*If you think this is a homophobic post, you’ll be sadly mistaken. If that’s what you were looking for I suggest you stop reading now…still interested? Then read on…..
As President Barack Obama steps out of Air Force One and looks beyond the gaggle of government officials and international and local media at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi on Friday, his eyes will behold the sight of 5,000 naked men and women making their presence felt.
Not because it is a type of greeting befitting a returning son of the soil, but rather because these people bitterly oppose the recent US Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage and worry that Barack Obama will use his bully pulpit to advocate the same in Africa; the home of tradition and sexual morality.
In the words of Vincent Kidaha, the leader of the Republican Liberty Party, “our very objective is that Obama can see from a distance the difference between a man and woman”.
Let us stop and think about this for a minute. This fringe group thinks that this gentleman, married for close to two decades and proud father of two girls, needs a lessen in human anatomy. Hilarious.
Mr. Kidaha isn’t the only one up in arms.
Addressing a group of demonstrators wearing t-shirts with slogans such as ‘Protect the family match’ and ‘Stand with the family’, lawmaker Irungu Kangata was quoted by the Reuters news agency saying, “we are telling Mr Obama when he comes to Kenya this month and he tries to bring the abortion agenda, the gay agenda, we shall tell him to shut up and go home”.
However, we need to stop laughing for a minute and examine the hypocrisy that is manifesting here. Many African opponents of gay rights and same-sex marriage complain that they are against their culture and is damaging to the family unit. Which is fine I guess.
But I then must ask, how African is it to parade in public in your Adam’s/Eve’s suit? In broad daylight? With children around? I mean, weren’t women being harassed on the street simply because they were wearing knee length skirts instead of boubous (kitenge dresses)?
And how African is it to tell a visitor to “shut up”? I was taught to treat important guests like the Second Coming. I was to cater to their every need and no matter my personal feelings, they were to be treated with the upmost respect. Never mind telling them to “shut up and go home”.
As we continue to embrace more civil rights on our continent, our understanding of what is ‘African’ will have to continue to evolve. Remember when women were seen as nothing more than cooks in the kitchen and bearers of children? Well now they are captains of industry and leaders of nations. Remember when children were to be seen and not heard? Today, we have international conferences that are chaired by pre-teens. Remember when physical violence was meted against women and children with barely an eyebrow raised? Try that now and see what happens.
All those things that we left (or are trying to leave) in the past were ‘African culture’? Perhaps we should be so quick to shout all sorts of slogans and strut around with our genitals exposed just to make a point. We might find ourselves on the wrong side of history.
On the topic of history, it is my sincere wish that the political process in our sister nation of Burundi becomes less volatile. The region doesn’t need a new hotspot, especially now that Eastern Congo has somewhat quieted down.
Whether or not yesterday’s elections were credible, the various political players need to sit down and realize that the status quo is simply untenable. No one is a winner when tens of thousands languish in refugee camps and the economy takes a nosedive. Lets have less finger pointing and more honest and meaningful conversation. The adults in the room need to stand up and be counted