Naked Truth and The Twisted Ladder

What is the real origin of homosexuality? Is it rooted in the same biological and social constructs as heterosexual relations? Is it in all our DNA or has discrimination and revulsion against homosexuals ( Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people) based merely on religious dogma and patriarchal worldviews? What is the authentically Afrikan worldview on this subject, one that is not tainted by newly inherited Male centric religions and patriarchal standards?

For the longest time I have meant to write about a subject that is usually taboo to certain sections of the so called ‘woke’ society. You know, the Black conscious ( yet not all Black Consciousness adherents are anti-gay), nationalist and even the traditionalist/ pan-Afrikanists which may all be grouped as Afrocentrists. The subject is homosexuality. Having been a Rastafarian since the early 2000’s, and coming from a Pentecostal church background, it has been difficult for me to speak openly about what I still view as an alternative kind of sexuality. Although I have had friends, colleagues and other people I admire who are gay, I have not been so open in expressing support for their causes, only venturing as far as stating that each person has a right to define themselves and that another person’s sexuality is entirely their own business, discrimination is unnecessary. There have been many times when I have confronted Rasta’s and Traditionalists as well as blatant homophobes about their overzealous anti-gay stances and statements. Asking what revolutionary purpose does it serve to discriminate and even even incite violence against people whose gender does not fit their expectations of what is deemed ‘natural’?

Needless to say, I have been called many names for this, from fence-sitter, apologist to closet or secret homosexual. The real naked truth is that, I have my own prejudices and they may or may not fit the term homophobia, but as I told another gay friend, who does not talk to me anymore, not even on social media – I am still working on myself – part of me sees same sex romance as uncanny or somehow unethical, especially in the context of raising families, yet another part of me, I guess the liberal sensibility in me, simply says let’s live and let live. As long as homosexuals pose no discernible threat to the liberation of Black people from the common enemies of racism and capitalist exploitation, let them be. Love is love after-all and it does not always need to be sexual and if it is, then so be it. I am far from dictating who does what and how sexually. But as a person engaged in Afrikology and rekindling Afrikan value systems – I must take a clear stand either for or against. The main question I ask myself is – is homosexuality in line with Ma’at and principles of Ubuntu?

According to the 42 Principles of Ma’at, it is not. So there, it should be easier to make a decision, right? Well, not really. There are several admonitions or negative confessions of Ma’at, which people of any gender can and do easily violate. So who judges us when we pollute the water or commit adultery or commit any other act that is deemed a violation of the Cosmic or Natural Law?

When I first thought of writing this essay, I was thinking about the many gay folks who have contributed to my intellectual and cultural development. I also wanted to mention the many artists and writers who lived openly gay or queer lives who have contributed immensely to our social, cultural lives. The example of the writer/activist, James Baldwin always comes to mind. I read two or three of his books as a teenager and did not know or care about his sexual orientation until my mid-twenties when I read Giovanni’s Room and his other works. By that time I had already started interacting with more gay people in the arts scenes, political movements as well as in literature. Besides that I found many of them eccentric and well, queer, I did not see much else that made them special or not so special compared to other folks. They too displayed the various hangups, strengths and weaknesses and beautiful qualities as anybody else. In short, the gay people I have encountered and shared intimate spaces with have been normal people who are as complex or as simple as anybody else. What they did in their beds or with their private life was and is still no business of mine. But I also have grappled with the question of what the Afrocentrists insist on; that the whole ‘practice’ of homosexuality is un-Afrikan, that it is merely a ‘behaviour’ which we as a homogenous Afrikan population have inherited unwillingly from the West, through slavery and through colonialism. My own research into such claims has yielded some mixed messages, most of which reveals that indeed, there have been Afrikans of old who either displayed openly gay traits or were openly gay and engaged in same sex intercourse. Still, there are also messages that contradict that narrative. While there are more instances of lesbian relations, there are rarer instances or examples of homosexual male courtship, not to mention marriage. Sodomy and ritual same-sex encounters, especially between rulers and younger men or boys are reported all over the continent, but I have not found any publication that confirms that this was the norm or a widely acceptable social practice.

A overtly nationalist newspaper from here in Zimbabwe recently published a scathing article lamenting the negative effect of Western ‘values’ being dictated upon Afrikan peoples in the name of democracy and human rights. The article focussed on the issue of Homosexuality. What drew me to the article was how the author used the ancient Egyptian cosmic principles of Ma’at to support his point that even in ancient Afrikan societies, as well as in Biblical narratives, homosexuality was frowned upon. I had saved this particular page of the newspaper as I had meant to quote it for this article, but I cannot seem to find it anymore.

Lastly, I am father raising three boys. These toddlers will soon become young men, and I am keenly interested in them being the best that they can be as divine beings. They are in the normal way of perceiving existence, human. What sexual preferences they may choose when they grow up is based on biological as well as environmental determinants or is it entirely based on how we raise them?

According to a study: (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cross-cultural-evidence-for-the-genetics-of-homosexuality/)

Biological mechanisms, however, offer a more compelling account. For instance, exposure to female-typical levels of sex steroid hormones in the prenatal environment are thought to “feminize” regions of the male brain that are related to sexual orientation, thereby influencing attachment and anxiety. On top of these observations, studies in molecular genetics have shown that Xq28, a region located at the tip of the X chromosome, is involved in both the expression of anxiety and male androphilia. This work suggests that common genetic factors may underlie the expression of both. Twin studies additionally point to genetic explanations as the underlying force for same-sex partner preference in men and neuroticism, a personality trait that is comparable to anxiety.”

This is very revealing, but it may also vindicate the positions of those who discriminate and urge us to commit mass genocide of people merely due to their sexual orientation.

To Be Continued.

NP. I hope to be a better informed and less discriminatory person after a short while, I promise I am working on it.

 

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The Story of Progress

On the teeming, nervous streets of Harare, somewhere along the byways of the promising northern suburbs – stands a boy named Progress. His parents must have been really hopeful, if he has a sister, her name may very likely be Prosperity. The parents could possibly also be faithful with their Sunday tithes, giving of the little they can scrape from almost nothingness.

It is also possible that this eleven year old was named by his ailing grandparents somewhere in the deep in the rural areas. Whatever the case may be, here he stands between the amen corner and impending doom. His country, better to say homeland, has been scating on the thinned ice of total economic collapse for more than two decades now. With a reported 90% unemployment rate, half the citizens residing in various foreign lands …All they had really asked for was an equal share in the wealth of the land.

We can tell the story of a ravenously corruptible, heavily indebted and bloated neo-colonial leadership later, for now we have to simply stop, look and listen to the story of Progress. We need to find out who or what circumstances have led him and millions of other Black somebody’s down this perilous road – being trapped in a spiral of poverty.

My name is Progress Nhamo, I was born in Mbare, Harare in the year 2001. My parents had been farm worker in Kondozi for all their lives, but they had fled that part of the country during the invasions. I know I should not put it that way, many elders do not actually use the word invasion, but land occupations. But as my mother would say gleefully, “Once we had new bosses, there was no more occupation, so let’s call a spade a spade.” Anyways, we had moved around a lot when I was still a baby, and my father told me that we even had to live on the streets of Mutare for several weeks before we finally found a room in notorious Mbare. It is strange to claim that my parents lived together because my father was hardly ever home. Unless he came home drunk out of his wits on some weekends, he was mostly hustling in or out of some part of Harare selling everything he could find. My mother once said that he probably also sold himself. She could not explain to me why this man was hardly ever home.

Time Signatures Overtures

Time is but a moment in a capsule …

jazz music told me so

but also insisted that i remember

that it ain’t necessarily so

we’ve drifted in and out

to and fro

the storied shores of love

with music as the sea of reeds

with music as a seed

bearing the living trees

with blood on the leaves

we have seen many visions

conquered in many battles

with love and music

as a spear as well as a shield

with love and music carrying us

we found firm ground

even as we steadied ourselves to take off

in full flight

love music our meditation

our rhythmic blue teacher paying fullest attention

love is incense dispelling the tension

vibrating heartical flame

thawing the chill in the room

a way out of no way

respecting no man

just having its own way

Ode to a sound

What am I talking about when I speak of jazz?
We talking space that speaks
We talking place with speed
And reeds that breathe, whisper and bleed
We speak of slow pain
Blues way down tempo
Like a Bird considered dead
But suddenly
Phoenixes with a sudden gusty uptake
Flurry of notes and paraphrased anecdotes
Accents from a passionate world
We talking broken language
Accents of a thriving Diaspora
The familiar and the strange
Anti-clockwise versions of orange
Kaleidoscope of colours clashing
Harmonising then disolving into beautyfully mathematically inacurrate nothingness in syncopated sequences
Bleak existentialism
Black Existential dread
Ukuthula nenxushunxushu
Amaqoqo nezimvuthu
Uxolo nesiphithiphithi
Usuku lodlame nobusuku benzolo
Ikuthangi neyizolo
Ubuthakathaka nokululama
The first thing to know about jazz is that there is No such thing as jazz
Yet not everything they call jazz is jazz
Paradox mired in quicksand
Hear it in Trane’s Equinox
A soaring upward spiral of a novice long-winded astronaught seeking new planets from a crevice in space and self created time
Hear it in Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mountain of the Night
Slow burning Blue flames and runaway veldfires raging around a cool stream running untouched
The black flakes of burned grass fallin on it like petals of crystalline snow
Jazz is an uncle rantimg uncanny wisdom in a drunken trance
She is also a sober minded Belle whispering I love you to a cruel lover with the most seering sincerity
She is used to all kinds of indigo moods
Yet with Sarah Vaughan’s elegance
She refuses to be diluted or be reduced to mindless loves
Fuckboys and their blase’ blase’
Cannot take Her hope
She aint no cheap thrill
She has had her fill
Of needles bottles and smokey bars
From the 20s to the 60s
They have invited her in only to chew her out
Took her to the bioscope
Trying to make a lady out of an enigmatic tramp
But she escaped all labels and remains enthroned in her own private state of Yin and Yang
Coloured and never gray
Unless She is fixing to rain
Bold and never weak
Unless she needs to display Her vulnerability
Elegant muse
Black classical Blues
Everything won yet nothing to lose
This Being called Jazz is a Shaman’s dream boogie
A thing of no nation
An activist with convictions beyond politics
Multiversal and viscerally private
Provocative and transluscent
Yet still Black as the root in a Healers bitter brew …
She is also a just music

“On Adapting the Fight to One’s Realities” by Amilcar Cabral

African Heritage

Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau

It so happens that in our country the Portuguese colonialists did not expropriate the land; they allowed us to cultivate the land. They did not create agricultural companies of the European type as they did, for instance, in Angola, displacing masses of Africans in order to settle Europeans. We maintained a basic structure under colonialism – the land as co-operative property of the village, of the community. This is a very important characteristic of our peasantry, which was not directly exploited by the colonisers but was exploited through trade, through the differences between the prices and the real value of products. This is where the exploitation occurs, not in work, as happens in Angola with the hired workers and company employees. This created a special difficulty in our struggle – that of showing the peasant that he was being…

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