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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Money Dance vs Spirit Dance

DAni NabudereRevolution is a science, but it is one that takes shape socially, both privately as well as publically, and it is essentially experiential. The theory is as significant as the practice. The ironical art of revolution  is comparable to the art of music. One person can compose a symphony in the privacy of their own home or even while walking along as part of a crowd. The symphony will require a number of performers yet it comes from the mind of a single person. In jazz, there is the art of improvisation. While the composer can arrange the music in one way, the music can take a shape of its own in the hands of capable improvisers, but the foundation remains. Is it possible for a whole country to be conducted like a symphony or even a jazz big band, with each musician, audience member and spectator contributiung to a harmonious whole?

The people must first agree to play together, to trust the bandleader, the leader has to have a record of excellence in performance and there must be freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite to more freedom. Afrikan people should or can agree to get off the grid of monopoly foreign capital, we can harmonise. This is what I am learning from listening to Wadada Leo Smith and reading late Ugandan Professor Dani Wadada Nabudere.

While reeling along and ‘taking the pain’, with every other Zimbabwean and even most South Africans amid the seemingly perennial economic crises, we are also edified by the seemingly intangible.  Caught between two worlds – that of pursuing the mental liberation of ourselves and our people from the numerous shackles of neo-colonial existence, by working on a cultural/spiritual revolution while at the same time striving to be entrepreneurial and financially independent, it is daunting work. It is our music that really helps us to get over these black and blues. What would we be without this music?

In all our travails we have had music that either interprets, interrogates, elucidates and presents our struggles and our joys. The music reaches further, it can be a comforter as well as an agitating force, compelling us to seek new ways of being, to be more than just labourers and consumers, but to also catch the Spiritual vibrations that surround us, even as it appears as if we are drowning in endless dept, depraved systems and despair. The music is our campus to our Souls true purpose.  The music is in everything we do because the music comes from within as well as without.

During my regular errands to do some research at the Harare City Library, I came across an book by one of my all time favourite intellectuals, the consummate philosopher and pragmatic Afrikologist Dr Dani Nabudere. The title of the book also caught my roving eye, called The Rise 7 fall of Money Capital, with the name Dani Wadada Nabudere written below on the cover, I could not resist it. I spent a good three hours perusing its contents. I will explain later how discovering that his name was also Wadada, means so much to me. Firstly, about the book. The best way to describe it is to re-write what is written on the back-page cover and thereafter elucidate on its significance for me personally, for Zimbabwe as well as for the whole continent of Afrika:

“This book comes out at an important time in the history of monetary and financial systems which, with the October 1987 crash on bloody Monday and the mini-crash in October 1989, has undergone tremendous  shocks and tremors. The author traces the theory of money and credit in a historical perspective – doing so from a Marxist perspective – and convincingly demonstrates the root causes of monetary and financial crises in the capitalist economy, as well as money’s contradictory role in a socialist economy.  His crucial contribution lies in his exposure of the false acceptance of the notion that money is a neutral’ circulating agent in capitalist economies as well as, to some extent, ‘socialist’ economies. He demonstrates the historical role of money as a social relation in which class relations are counterimposed within the monetary relationships ( This is a crucial point we shall return to and investigate further  ). Commodity-money relationships are seen as lying at the base of the capitalist economies and monetary and credit crises reflect the class struggles that continue on a world level over the political and technical questions that underlie commodity production and distribution. ( This is the part that really interested me in this book, as Zimbabwe suffers the effects of such a crisis. It is usually easier to point to government corruption and bloated state budgets when trying to find solutions to the issue of finances and foreign investments, but very few if any analysts have tried to look at the intrinsically flawed logic of capitalism itself.)

Nabudere is vigorous and so instructive in this work, that I wished I could just make copies of  the requisite chapters and send to some African heads of state and relevant ministers. But one wonders if such people actually make time to read and engage in dialectical thinking in order to steer their countries towards economic well-being. I am not as well versed in financial literacy as I should be, but I often wonder and sometimes even tell my wife that a country such as Zimbabwe has a great opportunity to actually be innovative and be a leader in the electronic and  other online /mobile credit avenues such as the clearly workable eco-cash and the the rest of the electronic alternatives. But somehow we are all use to possessing cash. Are we possessed by cash, perhaps? It is possible that it is our attitude towards paper-money that keeps us otherwise impoverished. Why are alternative currencies such as Bitcoin etc not hugely successful in Zimbabwe? There are explanations for this, but I do believe that Afrikan people should be forging ahead with alternatives to the US Dollar and any other foreign capital. Anyway, the book’s description continues:

“The author brings up the old dispute about a definition of money, demonstrating thoroughly the scientificity of Marx’s insistence that money itself is a commodity with its own cost of production., thus undermining the monetarist argument that it is the state that determines the value of money, and other universal equivalents, still remain at the base of the monetary system, despite the fact that gold may no longer be in the reserves of the central banks. In private hoards, gold still plays a central role in the private appropriation of the social product of labour by capital.” – ( Africa In Transition publishers )

I strongly believe that we as Afrikan people can discover new ways to work, to earn and to learn. We can feed ourselves, find water, remunerate each other and gift each other in various ways beyond this commodity called money. This book shows that this is not mere wishful thinking. There is life beyond capitalism, but we should sow those seeds now.

In this new situation the precondition is that capital now stands on one side and labour on the other. Both are alien to one another and are historically presented with the dispossession of direct producers by merchants’ capital as antagonistic forces. The extremes which stand opposite one another are specifically different in their roles in the process of production. on the one side labour exists on condition that it offers itself as use-value to capital for a wage. This use value ( or labour-power) exists only potentially as the bodily and mental capacity of the worker. It becomes a reality only when it has been solicited by capital and set in motion by it within the process of production. On the other side stands capital as exchange-value which is no longer its original quality, as we have seen, but is now money-capital. It is not money in the simple form of gold and silver, nor is it money in opposition to circulation, but it is now in the form of commodities.

In conclusion, let me just reiterate what has already been said; there is life after capitalism, just as there was life before. But we are not suggesting that we should return to the rudimentary sort of bartering system or to simplistic economies that existed before the industrial era and the advent of globalization, what we are saying is that rather than collapsing along with the failing system of money-capital, we can invent other ways of doing business and forging our existence, the financial markets have done nothing good for Afrika, instead, we are used as the source of raw materials, slave labour and charity cases.  We can be more creative but our creativity should not be wasted on saving a system that is intrinsically harmful to the entire planet, especially to we the Children of the Sun.

Countries such as Zimbabwe and indeed many more so called Third World countries are caught up in debilitating conditions of debt from accruing aid from all and sundry. Nabudere writes:

“In this way an alliance is sealed between the state comprador bourgeoisie which receives the ‘aid’ and the dominant international bourgeoisie, which dishes out the ‘aid’. Under such a situation, any expansion in the economy which generates growth elements immediately leads to a further depreciation of the currency, of neo-colonial Third World countries, ad the appreciation of the currencies of the stronger developed capitalist currency.”

In my next essay, I will expand on why the name Wadada, shared by my inpsirations, is so significant. I will also share how serendipitous it is that Wadada Nabudere finished this particular book The Rise and Fall of Money Capital in the city of Harare, from where I am writing this.

TBC