Black People : Homosexuality in precolonial Africa revisited

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by awo dino, May 28, 2010.

  1. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Excerpt from an article @http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/africa_pre,2.html


    The myth of exclusive heterosexuality in indigenous black/sub-Saharan Africa was widely diffused by the 94th chapter of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1781). Referring to homosexual behavior, Gibbon wrote, "I believe and hope that the negroes in their own country were exempt from this moral pestilence." Gibbon's fond hope was based on neither travel to Africa nor on inquiry of any kind.
    A century later, Sir Richard Burton, who unlike Gibbon did know something of Africa, reinforced the myth of African sexual exceptionalism by drawing the boundaries of his "sotadic Zone," where homosexuality was supposedly widely practiced and accepted, in such a way as to exclude sub-Saharan Africa.
    Especially where Western influences (notably Christian and Marxist) have been pervasive, there is now a belief that homosexuality is a decadent, bourgeois Western innovation forced upon colonial Africa by white men, or, alternately, by Islamic slave-traders. The belief of many Africans that homosexuality is exogenous to the history of their people is a belief with real social consequences--in particular, the stigmatization of those of their people who engage in homosexual behavior or who are grappling with identities. These beliefs are not, however, based on serious inquiry, historical or otherwise.
    There are no analyses of the social structures of African societies written by indigenous people prior to alien contact. What is inscribed of "traditional" African cultures was written by some of the Northerners who disrupted African cultures, first travelers, then missionaries, colonial officials, and anthropologists. In many cases the observers inscribing "traditional" African culture did not understand that their presence as observers was itself a product of history and domination.
    Nevertheless, the observing Europeans are the only source of data on homosexuality in Africa until the most recent few decades. Most of what can be learned about traditional African societies was inscribed in the last decade of the nineteenth century or later, when the continent had been colonized by European states. To keep down the costs of colonial government, European (and especially English) colonial regimes used "indirect rule," endeavoring to maintain customary laws, though attempting to ban some customary practices, particularly sexual ones.
    The travel, colonial, and anthropological literature include reports of native conceptions and native practices of male homosexuality in many societies across every region of the continent. Documentation of female homosexuality is less abundant, but exists for many cultures. The contact and colonial era reports are critically reviewed in Murray and Roscoe's Boy-Wives and Female Husbands. Here, only a few examples of each of the main social organizations of homosexuality will be mentioned.

    "Boy Wives": Age-differentiated Homosexuality
    In the central African Zande culture, before European conquest, it was regarded "as very sensible for a man to sleep with boys when women are not available or are taboo." English anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard was told that in addition to times when women were not available for sex, some Azande men had sex with boys "just because they like them."...

    Gender-differentiated Homosexual Relations
    Gender-crossing homosexuality has been discussed as common in the (Nigerian) Hausa bori cult (and in Afro-Brazilian offshoots of west African spirit-possession religion).
    Among the Maale of southern Ethiopia, some males crossed over to feminine roles. Called ashtime, these (biological) males dressed as women, performed female tasks, cared for their own houses, and apparently had sexual relations with men, according to Donald Donham. One gave Donham a clear statement of the "third gender" conception: "The Divinity created me wobo, crooked. If I had been a man, I could have taken a wife and begotten children. If I had been a woman, I could have married and borne children. But I am wobo; I can do neither."...

    Female Homosexual Relations

    Controversy continues about the purported chastity of female husbands in various African cultures. An Ovimbundu (in Angola) informant, told an ethnographer, "There are men who want men, and women who want women. . . . A woman has been known to make an artificial penis for use with another woman." Such practices did not meet with approval, but neither did transvestite homosexuals of either sex desist.
    Among the Tswana (in addition to homosexuality among the men laboring in the mines), it was reported that back home "lesbian practices are apparently fairly common among the older girls and young women, without being regarded in any way reprehensible." ...

    Conclusion
    With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance. Much of this same-sex activity was situational or premarital, though there were long-term relationships, too. The special Christian animus toward homosexuality was carried to Africa by Europeans and stimulated denials that "the sin not named among Christians" existed among "unspoiled" Africans.

    Stephen O. Murray

    http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/africa_pre,2.html
     
  2. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Iwori Odi and Ofun Irete are 2 odus that speak about homosexuality in the yoruba culture...i don't like some of translation from Yoruba to English that i read online, so i'm going to do my own translation... and i want to research the 2 odus to verify their authenticity.

    Ofun Irete or Ofun alaaye laws for the those who live in the world.

    epo se e je'su
    isu se e j'epo
    akaso dun-un g'aka
    obinrin se e ba sun j'okunrin lo
    okunrin se e sun ti j'obinrin lo
    b'okunrin ba n b'okunrin sun
    bii koko, bii oowo
    bi iku bi agbaaarin
    b'obunrin ba n obinrin sun
    bi epete bi oorun
    bi erofo bi eeri
    b'okunrin ba n b'obinrin sun
    b'obinrin ba nsun t'okunrin
    bi enf'ola yun'pun
    bi enf'ola yun'ra
    igi Ofun-O-Rete lo ro gangan-olele
    dia fun Apon-Ako
    ti nlo ree fi Olele omo Olofa saya
    Apon p'Olele o je o
    ko ju ohun ti'fa n se lo o
    Apon p'Olele o je o
    ko ju ohun t'Ebora n se lo o
     
  3. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Iwori Odi

    Iwori wodi o se bi nnkan ire loun nse
    Iwori took a look at the buttocks/genitals
    and thought it was something good to do
    Awo rere niwori to nwodi na?
    Do you consider Iwori who looks at the buttocks/genitals
    As a good Awo?
    Dia fun Panla Apo
    this was what ifa gave to the single woman
    To ko roko fe
    who couldn't find a husband to marry her
    To yoo maa febinrin egbe e re
    and you went to go fall in love with a fellow woman
    Ebo ni won ni ko wa se
    she was told to offer ebo
    Obinrin ti nfebinrin egbe e re
    a woman who loving(sexual) her fellow woman
    Eyin o mo pe o nloo woku idi ni?

    don't you know you not use a lifeless buttocks/genitals?
     
  4. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks Aminat, I have been looking for Odu on the subject. Please do the translations rapido! also, Where did you get these from?
     
  5. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    A yoruba dude on myspace had it on his blog...i'm doing my own translation will post in a minute.

    I know that ofun irete and iwori odi are part of the 256 odus, so i think they are authentic...
     
  6. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Wew! this isnt easy...this old style yoruba which very difficult to convey its meanings in english

    Ofun Irete

    epo se e je'su
    palm oil is better to eat with yam
    isu se e j'epo
    yam is better to eat with palm oil
    akaso dun-un g'aka
    a laddder is good to climb a rafter/wall
    obinrin se e ba sun j'okunrin lo
    its better for a woman to sleep with a man
    okunrin se e sun ti j'obinrin lo
    it is better for a man to sleep with a woman
    b'okunrin ba n b'okunrin sun
    If a man sleeps with another man
    bii koko, bii oowo
    it will result into lumps, boils,
    bi iku bi agbaaarin
    death(relates to skin infection)
    b'obunrin ba n obinrin sun
    if a woman sleeps with a woman
    bi epete bi oorun
    you will get bad odour, dirt

    bi erofo bi eeri
    you will get irritaion and murk

    b'okunrin ba n b'obinrin sun
    when a man sleeps with a woman
    b'obinrin ba nsun t'okunrin

    when a woman sleeps with a man
    bi enf'ola yun'pun

    its like a feeling of having so much riches

    bi enf'ola yun'ra
    its like the riches/wealth is felt in your body
    igi Ofun-O-Rete lo ro gangan-olele
    the stick of ofun o rete stands up and is turgid
    dia fun Apon-Ako
    this is what we gave the single man (bachelor)
    ti nlo ree fi Olele omo Olofa saya
    he went to go like(marry) Olele the child of olofa
    Apon p'Olele o je o
    he called olele but she did not answer
    ko ju ohun ti'fa n se lo o
    it is not more than what ifa can do
    ko ju ohun t'Ebora n se lo o
    its not more than what those who cover themselves can do
     
  7. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Cool. So here sleeping with the same sex is ibi - bad fortune. Clear reference to it being frowned upon. It would be nice be able to date the verse; precontact or post contact verse? The only thing that can be definite is the introduction of yams through Arab traders or travelers to west Africa. Not really helpful cuz that was quite a while back.
     
  8. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hmmm good point dino, but one can still see that gays weren't condemned to death in the yoruba tradition.
     
  9. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    he white scholars have much to say but where is there n account of the thousands year old oral traditions of the Zulu, Xkosa, Bantu, Fulani, Dogon, Ibo, Ashanti, Wolof, Dahomey, and the hundreds of other ethnic cultureswithin the 52 nations of the entire continent?

    Where is the testimony of African scholars.

    The Mau Mau had an initiation ceremony with sex with a goat but that in no way means that bestiality was something generally accepted in Africa, and that christian excise is getting tired because Europe is full of homosexuality and the freedom for mosexuals, and every christian knows that the friars and monks were buggering each other.

    This is more a racial ish rather then religion, aftr all who were the greates homosexuals? the Romans and Greeks, and the facts about King James are old news
     
  10. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I just posted Yoruba proverbs which speaks of homosexuality in the Yoruba religion, as you can see there is nothing that states kill or in prison all gays! that is CHRISTIAN in origin, that is my point.

    take it or leave it.
     
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