R. Ayité Okyne is The Lifestyle Maven™ and an advocate for living the life you love and loving the life you live. He is an adventurer, foodie, style connoisseur and cultural ambassador. He is very passionate about social justice and is a social commentator. Ayite has lived in Switzerland, Russia, the UK, Ghana, and now lives in Los Angeles in the United States.

The Other Afrik - International - Panafrica - Religion - Sexuality - Culture
The Great Deception: The Myth of a Non-Homosexual Africa
The Catholic Church and Homosexuality in Africa

During the recent Synod of African Bishops in Rome, it appears the issue of homosexuality in Africa assumed some major significance. Archbishop Robert Sarah, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in a session during the synod, suggested that a materialistic ideology was being imposed on African countries from the West, bringing with it a host of evils including abortion, artificial contraception and the legitimization of homosexuality. He described it as a "lethal ideology" and "contrary to African culture."

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, during the synod, Ghanaian Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle was asked if there really was a Western campaign to corrupt African values. He replied, "We don’t only suspect that there is a campaign, we think it’s deliberate."

Now, wait a minute, when did African Christians begin to speak out against Western ideology? Christianity itself is a Western import to Africa! Africa was colonized with Christianity! Besides, where did the myth that homosexuality was exogenous to African culture come from? Research shows that homosexuality and bisexuality have been present in every culture and in every generation . The native conceptions and practices of male homosexuality in many societies across every region in Africa have been documented in Murray and Roscoe’s Boy-Wives and Female Husbands. Indeed, it was Christianity that introduced homophobia to Africa.

Let’s first look at the Catholic Church and the history of homosexuality. The modern Catholic Church, and, indeed, many religious denominations have tried over many centuries to deny the toleration – and, in many cases, the veneration – of homosexuality in earlier ages. Many of the Church’s founding fathers did profess same-sex attraction and practiced what we now call homosexuality as well as cross-dressing. The exalted ranks of the saints include St. Aelred of Rievaulx, St. Anselm, St. Bernard, St. Sebastian, Sts. Perpetua and Felicity and Sts. Sergius and Bacchus – all same-gender-loving people. Actually Sergius and Bacchus were martyrs who were described as Erastai, or lovers. It should be noted here that these people did not self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered – because the concept ‘gay’ did not exist as we know it today and same-gender-loving behavior hardly raised eyebrows – but these holy people revered by the church did express or practice same-sex love. So how did the church come to revile same-gender love as it does today?

The roots of the negative attitude towards homosexuality can probably be traced to the book Physiologus, a book of descriptions of animals, birds, and fantastic creatures, sometimes stones and plants with an anecdote from which the moral and symbolic qualities of the animal are derived. This was probably based in part on the Epistle of Barnabas (now considered apocryphal), written sometime between AD 100 and 130. This epistle is characterized by exaggerated allegory. For example, Barnabas 10:6 says “Moreover thou shalt not eat the hare [Lev. 11:6] …. for the hare gaineth one passage (anus) in the body every year; for according to the number of years it lives it has just so many orifices.” The next verse continues: “Again, neither shalt thou eat the hyena… Why so? Because this animal changeth its nature year by year, and becometh at one time male and at another female.” The hyena is not specifically mentioned in Leviticus. In Deut. 14:8 the word used in the Septuagint to express the prohibition against eating pork resembles the word for “hyena”, and the two are etymologically related. The male and female hyenas were thought to be somewhat hard to distinguish, as their genitalia are rather similar. With the extremely limited knowledge base of the animal kingdom and biology available at the time, the writer of the Physiologus made exactly the same fanciful connection between the colorful legends about animal sexuality and Mosaic Law. NEXT PAGE

Reference Choe, Y. - The Surprising History Of Homosexuality And Homophobia Murray, S. O. – Africa: Sub-Saharan, Pre-Independence Unkown – The Epistle of Barnabas Murray, S. O. and Roscoe – Boy-Wives and Female Husbands Lettinga, N. – Sub-Saharan Christianity: A History of the Christian Church in Sub-Saharan Africa

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