What’s ‘Un-African’ Is Homophobia
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Published in: November-December 2019 issue.


HOMOSEXUALITY is a hot-button issue in Africa today. Much of the fervor is fueled by demagogic politicians who want to distract their people from the issues that really matter, such as runaway corruption and nepotism. Many politicians today are in office because they are riding high on the homophobia that they’ve created and stoked. Some use phrases such as “Homosexuals are more lethal than all natural disasters put together” and then go ahead to implement draconian laws such as life imprisonment.

         Not long ago, it used to be tribal politics that ruled in the war of “us” against “them.” If they take office, they will steal our cattle, land, and wives and make us wear shorts. We as a tribe need to pull together to keep them at bay. Today, however, tribalism is widely frowned upon in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. Publicly denouncing another tribe can be considered hate speech. Consequently, our leaders have sought and found a new target, another group that everyone can hate or see as less human—a common evil that can mobilize the masses. It was Anton Chekhov, the short story writer I most revere, who said that love, friendship, and respect do not unite a people as much as a common hatred for something.

         Humans have sought to ostracize other groups of humans throughout history, singling out a group that can be blamed for all the problems in society. If drought comes or disease breaks out, it’s their fault. For the Nazis, they were the Jews. For the Hutu, they were the Tutsi. For Trump, they are basically everyone who’s not of European descent. For many Africans today, they are LGBT people.

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Tony Njoroge is a Kenyan writer who has been published byLitro magazine, October Hill magazine, andScarlet Leaf Review. He studied English and literature at Laikipia University, Kenya.


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