Editor’s note: In a new weekly column on BrutallyUncensored.com, we look at some controversial issues brewing around on the African continent, from the Uncensored angle, of course. We start off with everyone’s favourite nonagenarian; the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
At the UN General Assembly last month, Zimabwe’s President Robert Mugabe decided to make a very strong point when he had the podium to speak. Big on the menu for the President was making it clear to the world his country’s stance on gay rights.
Below is exactly what the President told the General Assembly.
“Respecting and upholding human rights is the obligation of all states, and is enshrined in the UN charter,” the 91 year old said
“Nowhere does the charter arrogate the right to some to sit in judgement over the other in carrying out this universal obligation.
“In that regard, we reject the politicisation of this important issue and the application of double standards to victimize those who dare think and act independently of the self-anointed prefects of our time.”
The whole speech is symptomatic of the rampant homophobia the continent is rife with, which genuinely hampers progress. You could get killed for being homos*xual in some countries in Africa, whilst in other places you would almost certainly get jailed. Two thirds of African nations, including Ghana (the law is unnatural carnal knowledge, but can be interpreted that way if warranted), have laws on the statutes making homos*xuality illegal.)
Robert Mugabe had the chance to speak about anything in the world to the Assembly, but decided to dedicate a significant portion of it to repeating a bigoted position that the world already knows Africa for and which would win him few friends. It served no purpose but to reinforce to everyone else how determined we are to remain in the past and to pander to the ignorant masses back home.
The homophobia in Africa is largely of religious, not cultural, origins. Numerous studies to look into the homos*xual past of Africa has dug up evidence of homos*xuality being if not openly endorsed, at least not explicitly condemned by societies. And others have found some cultural leaders indulging in the practice.
So what explains the significant paradigm shift that accounts for new attitudes that our leaders openly spout out at General Assembly meetings. It is the same thing that labels our local traditions demonic and has our indigenous religions relegated to the dustbin of history: the religions of conquest that were brought down to us by our colonial masters to smooth over the oppression process.
You might notice this, and I have because I have had this argument numerous times. When asked why they are against homos*xuality, the only answer you would get besides it being unnatural is that the bible or quran says it’s wrong. That’s it, that’s why Africans look so uncompromising on the gay rights issues; because religion is more than a matter of life and death here, and people would die before they’ll be forced to give up their deeply held beliefs.
That’s the constituent African leaders like Mugabe play to, because what are our leaders if not a product of their societies. And based on these latter day religious beliefs implanted by colonialists homos*xuals are beaten, tortured, and laws enacted to imprison them.
And we are proud of it when the leaders repeat those positions, because like I said the leaders only reflect the societies they are from. It is ironic that Robert Mugabe spoke about the UN Human Rights charter, because it enjoins no person to be discriminated against on the basis of the religion, race, gender, or s*xual orientation; ergo, all men are born equal.
And at heart that is the principle we are so desperate to show the world that we have no intention of upholding. We want the world to step back and understand that whilst we are signatories to the UN Charter, this class of citizens whose only crime is being born a certain way do not deserve the protections everyone else deserves. And we state it with pride on the world stage, whilst everyone back home claps in unison and descends into effusive praise of Robert Mugabe and the great man that he is.
In this case, I would argue that economic pressure on such nations to change their ways is probably warranted. We can cry about the unfairness of the world all we like, but we lose the right to make any noise the moment we refuse to treat our citizens the right way. It signals to the world a barbaric mentality enshrined in Bronze Age mythology; and most of the civilised world has moved away from that.
Africa is hardly unique in barbaric treatments of LGBT’s, and other countries who indulge, especially the Muslim majority nations, deserve just as much condemnation as I just labelled at Mugabe and his ilk. As do Christian America, and religious nut jobs everywhere who like to hide behind their faith to try and legalise discrimination.
Robert Mugabe made it a big point to shout, ‘We are not gays’ in his UN speech. Of course that’s bollocks; everyone in Africa is not gay, but homos*xuals are everywhere. Because it is a natural phenomenon they would always be around; and the fact that he felt the need to make noise about it means he has some of them back home whom he wants to be given carte blanche to silence.
All right thinking people everywhere should not stand for this kind of blatant bigotry, and that includes the ordinary African. I know we have our deeply held beliefs which we cannot overcome, but if we look at this issue logically rather than through the lens of faith; we might see what we’re supposed to see- that all men are created equal.
Mugabe is a relic of the past, a nonagenarian despot who refuses to loosen his grip on power despite being so out of touch. We should all be embarrassed that such a man speaks for us on any issue; this shell of a once great liberator who fell prey to the trappings of power.