By Pini Jason
DURING the 1996 Images of Africa festival in Copenhagen, Denmark, there were many cultural events showcasing the beautiful cultures of Africa to the rest of the world.
Copenhagen hosted over 700 African journalists, writers, painters, musicians, choreographers, dancers, photographers and designers, all showing “the other side of Africa” as then Prime Minister Paul Nyrup Rasmussen called it.
Of course, there were some political sideshows, the most outstanding of which being the campaign against the obnoxious Gen. Abacha regime that had just judicially murdered Ken Saro-Wiwa, the writer and Ogoni environmental activist.
Many of us Nigerians, including Dr. Owen Wiwa, Ken’s younger brother and his very articulate wife, Diana, Hassan Sunmonu of OATU, Ghana, and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, made our voices heard all over Copenhagen, including the Danish parliament and newspapers.
But there was another, by far, the most annoying side event. It was a carnival by homosexuals and lesbians held at Roskilde, outside Copenhagen. One of the ad hoc staff of Images of Africa had the temerity to come to our flats to invite African journalists and artistes to the show. He was astounded by the fury with which we chased him out of the building. A few days before, this guy had irritated us by inviting us to his girlfriend’s birthday party. In the invitation he had indicated to us to bring our own drinks. That is no problem. Some of us are used to BYOB, Bring Your Own Bottle. But to caution us not to make noise when we come because his girlfriend hated noise was the limit of stupidity as far as we were concerned!
So when he came to invite Africans to a carnival by gays, he naturally sparked off heated arguments between us Africans and our hosts. They tried very hard to make a case for homosexuality, but we would not hear of it. I remember the outburst of Vincent Chikwari, a journalist from Zimbabwe: “What next will you guys sell to us? A man sleeping with a goat? Very soon you will legitimise paedophilia and ask us to follow!”
No unanimity about homosexuality
If you realise that Denmark is the first European nation to legitimise same- sex marriage, you will appreciate why they were upset by the African position and why we were equally upset by their viewpoint. Homosexuality is a subject that still upsets a lot of people in the world. The world has no unanimity about homosexuality. It has split the Anglican Church worldwide following the ordination of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson as a Bishop. In 2003, the Primate emeritus of Nigerian Church, Anglican Communion, Archbishop Peter Akinola, rose valiantly and vehemently against the consecration of Gene Robinson and led a faction of the Anglican Church against what was an obvious sodomy.
Only recently, Eucharia Uche, the just fired chief coach of the Super Falcons, at the FIFA female World Cup in Germany, last June, kicked up a controversy when she told the media that: “There are no more lesbians in my team”. She was accused of branding homosexuality as “dirty” and forcing lesbians out of her team. FIFA threatened to sanction her because, according to Tatjana Haenni, “FIFA is against all forms of discrimination”. It was understandable that Eucharia’s cultural viewpoint would upset people, especially in Germany whose reserve goalkeeper, Ursula Holl, is married to a woman, while the first choice goalkeeper Nadine Augerer is openly bisexual. Those who criticised Eucharia were concerned solely with the rights of homosexuals, but in so doing denied her, her right to stand up for her own values and belief as an African woman.
Nigeria under threat
Recently, while the Senate was considering a Bill for an Act against same-sex marriage in Nigeria, a few people thought that the Bill was a superfluous and unserious exercise by an idle legislature. But I said no. In fact, given recent happenings, the Senate was proactive in considering the Bill. If anybody believes that Nigeria cannot be under the threat of same-sex marriage that person is mistaken. There are already many closet sexual perverts in Nigeria. There was even a report of a church in Lagos exclusive to homosexuals. It will be just a matter of time for them, like their counterparts elsewhere, to begin to push the boundaries and push the scourge down our throats! Moreover, the forces pushing this cultural imperialism and spiritual enslavement are very formidable and determined.
Recently, David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was reported to have threatened to cut off aid to Ghana worth about 90 million British Pounds, if Ghana refuses to legalise homosexuality. Imagine! They are now using money as instrument of blackmail to ram evil down our throats! Of course, President John Atta Mills, as a true African patriot would not stomach such insult.
He told Cameron to keep his aid, saying that the UK cannot impose its values (homosexuality is not even a value) on Ghana and that he will never legalise homosexuality.
President Atta Mills said Mr. Cameron was entitled to his views on homosexuality but did not have the right to “direct other sovereign nations as to what they should do”, adding that Ghana’s social norms were different from those in the UK. Putting it emphatically, Mills said: “I as President will never initiate or support any attempt to legalise homosexuality in Ghana”.
Last week Monday also, Mr. John Nagenda, Ugandan presidential adviser also rejected what he called the “bullying mentality” of Mr. Cameron, saying Ugandans will not tolerate being treated like children.
“If they must take their money, so be it,” Mr. Nagenda said. Mr. Cameron was said to have raised the issue of gay rights at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. Ending the bans on homosexuality was said to be one of the recommendations of an internal report into the relevance of the Commonwealth.
Relevance of the Commonwealth
Indeed, many people have questioned the relevance of the Commonwealth, especially given that the UK went into European Union and abandoned Africa. The cost benefit of the organisation to former British colonies is very much in doubt. But if the only way the Commonwealth can find relevance now is to be a ruthless battle ram for a sexual practice that does violence to the cultural essence of the Black man, then it has no more use to anybody. In threatening to cut off aid to Ghana and Uganda, Cameron betrayed the desperation of the West to push this “dirty” practice. Very soon they may use the United Nations and NATO as platforms to market this deviance or throw into the gambit the issuance of their visa to Africans based on which side of the sexual orientation you are.
The rationalization of this sinister doctrine of homosexuality is laced with human rights. There is no unanimity about the way we live in this world. We, as Africans, have not imposed our will on the way the West lives. They should not dictate moral decadence to us. We are a free people. If a man has a right to marry a fellow man, why is it not the right of a paedophile to have sex with little children? Where do they draw the line? Many reasons have been adduced to rationalize homosexuality. Some say they were born that way, like southpaws.
There are those who see it as a silly fad that followed the drug culture. Whatever it is, the West can enjoy the right to keep it to themselves, like Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask. Don’t Say” policy in the US Armed Forces recently abrogated by Barack Obama. They should also respect our right to say we don’t want to grow a homosexual society. And I don’t see why they think that their view on the matter must be respected and ours should not.
Before you know it, the West, using the power of their media, will begin to cast us as inferior or uncivilised because we hold firmly to our cultural norms, that a marriage is naturally between a man and a woman. If a man wants to have sex with a dog, let the Camerons of this world grant him that right, but they must not force us to legalise it in our own societies.
The beauty of the world, including the Commonwealth, lies in its cultural diversity. In this matter, there is no globalisation! The ploy to use money to arm twist African countries is akin to slavery. Africa, given our economic weakness, relies heavily on the family as safety net. Anything that seeks to destroy the family as we know it must be resisted. We must protect Africa with the same intensity with which the West protects its society from the scourges of hard drugs.
With mixed races in some African countries, there has been a kind of bending over (no puns intended) backwards for homosexuals constitutionally. That is why we must be vigilant in Nigeria and stand firm with other outraged nations against the insulting threat of the UK.
It is not likely to be an easy fight ahead, knowing how powerful the gay lobby has become. With all the beautiful women in the world, if a man decides that the best thing for him is to marry a fellow man, something must be wrong with him! We must not fight shy to say so. We too have a right to be heard!