Traditional Family Unit Versus LGBT Family Unit: An African Perspective

15 Dec, 2018
Typically, a family unit consists of a mother, a father, and children (a daughter or son or both). This is also known as a nuclear family. Extended family will include grandparents and other close relatives. But currently in our modern world, family is whatever we make it out to be.

To get the view of how a LGBT family unit looks like here in Africa, I decided to share the story of a friend of mine, whom I’ll introduce to you as Mtetezi, She’s a lesbian, a LGBT rights activist based in Kenya, East Africa, and she and her partner had been married for 6 years now.

So this week, let this woman’s story stir a sense of wonder and faith in your beliefs, rights and your life…

Mtetezi was brought up in the ‘normal’ family setting, and she schooled in the normal kind of school where they paint a father-mother-children family type image on every kid's mind upon their enrollment in school.

At that level, she was made believe that the father, mother and children family unit was the only kind that exists everywhere.

Furthermore, the Bible stories, for example the story of Lamech (Gen. 4:19) who was cursed because of polygamy, and the various (mis)interpretations by the local church speakers made her feel that anything different from the normal family type was cursed and was nothing but sinful.

With time, she felt more comfortable, having read more Bible stories and finding quite a number of prominent people in the Bible who had practiced polygamy and other ‘vices’ and also coming across these cultures which are widely practiced in various tribes in the diverse African community hence making her feel normal.

Then, that was when the BIGGEST reality of life hit her with the headline- YOU’RE A LESBIAN!

To fit in, and at least feel normal, she did a bit of research in order to find any news and history of ‘people like her’. She also needed to get facts to disagree with the (mis)interpretation of the Bible by local preachers who had informed her that homosexuality is a sin.

Upon her research, she realized that she was not the first nor was going to be the last person to be a homosexual in Africa. For instance, a traditional African ruler, King Mwanga II (Sometimes referred to as the gay king of Uganda), Egyptian hieroglyphs and many others was said to have been openly gay and they did not face any opposition until the Bible and its condemnation was introduced to Africa.

What amazed her was the fact that homosexuality has been practiced long ago by the ancestors from almost all African tribes. Some tribes even have names for homosexuals, for example, in Kikuyu tribe in Kenya, homosexuals were referred to as ‘Oneki’. This should be shameful to the Africans who peddle and cling to the lie that homosexuality was imported when in fact it was there long before. To this day, all Ugandans, men and women, still address the king as "our husband" to differentiate him from common men.

Back to the topic on family, Mtetezi felt normal and that she can have a family as ‘straight’ people do.

And even without role models and set examples for her family kind in the Bible or education, she has now became a role model by having a family consisting of two women, and planning to get children soon, which is very possible.

She will stop at nothing, and that’s the reason she is living happily and documenting her life so that in future, people like us will have history and role models.

Her Parting shot, “Family is those people who we choose to be with. Parents may be married or not and it can still be one. Parenthood may include a man and a woman, or a single parent, or two women or two men.”

Don is one of columnists |You can read his weekly column on GLXY.EU