Of Africa, ex-colonials and ex-slaves …

George Monbiot has an article in today’s Guardian (link is now to his site) about why there might be suspicion about the British government’s recent moves to get involved in the Darfur situation - the reality of an old colonial set which regards the continent as their personal fiefdom. The “hoo-ray Henry” lingo in the piece is as hilarious as it might be offensive, and the article points to connections between the ongoing saga of the Zimbabwe mercenary trial and the Darfur disaster. Meanwhile, back home, Peter Tatchell has been carrying on his campaign against anti-gay reggae artists with this piece which is in reply to an earlier criticism of him for alienating the black community by attacking their musicians. I notice he mentions Buju Banton, who is best known for one anti-gay song called “Boom Bye Bye”, but I wasn’t aware that he’d gone back to that theme since. The interesting “observation” in this article is that

In any case, homophobia is not authentic Jamaican culture at all. It was foisted on the people of Jamaica in the 19th century by British colonisers and their Christian missionary allies. There is no evidence the Africans brought to Jamaica as slaves were homophobic. On the contrary, homosexuality was common in many of the west African societies from which they were stolen. It became more or less accepted among many slaves in their Caribbean exile, especially given the dislocation of traditional family life by the slave system. The prejudices and laws against homosexuality were imposed by the British. Yet most Jamaicans now claim homophobia is part of their own African-derived culture. They are in massive denial.

Perhaps Tatchell is unaware that many of the slaves brought to the Carribean came from Muslim areas of west Africa? It’s no secret that millions of Muslims were brought over as slaves and they certainly did not approve of homosexuality any more than Arabs or Pakistanis do. Or does he think this is also something Africans should abandon in favour of an authentic, gay-affirming “African” culture?

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