This topic makes me question, How far back does sex go?
I guess this depends on what theory of evolution you concur with. Well, similar to my unresloved beliefs, there were about 100 guests who graced Lessons in Black History event to get answers to this and other questions they had.
Lessons in Black History is an event for black people to meet and have conversations to uncover the lost history of black people and black cultures from around the world. In this edition we celebrated the 1st year anniversary with one of the most elusive, misunderstood and controversial topics, SEX. Themed ‘Sex in Antiquity’ we explored sex and sexuality of African cultures in pre-colonial Africa with a panel of students of culture, Chichi Koech a cultural anthropologist and writer and Sitawa Namwalie, a poet and environmentalist with extensive resource on indigenous knowledge. Unfortunately Gatonye wa Kuria, a Creative Director and ethnic historian, did not manage to join the panelists as he had to attend to family matters.
The event commenced with a warm welcome from Nahya Kuri, Lessons in black History host, together with her partner, Chris Mukuria. We then had a laugh session with comedian Brian Onjoro, who cracked our ribs with the best of his stand up jokes that he managed to put in line with the theme. We then had two astounding performances then quickly began the discussion.
The topic ‘sex in antiquity’ aimed to help all attendees understand sex in it’s sacred form, the purpose of sex and to break the stereotypes behind sex. Chichi Koech started us off by explaining how sex was esssential in the traditional setting, why polygamy existed and what benefits it had. We learnt that men would marry many women as a sign of wealth and to also get children who would assist in labour and protection during war times. In other cultures, polyandry was prevalent. Case in point, among the Lele people of the Congo, because young girls tended to be betrothed to older men, younger men (who would still be in waiting for their own betrothed brides to reach their teens) could make a request to the village elders that they be given a “common wife”, i.e. a wife to be shared by all the men in a given age group. This woman is called a “wife of the village”. (re: http://africanweddingtraditions.com)
We discussed marriages in different communities such as the Luo, Kikuyu, Kipsigis and Ethiopian (habesha people) We then moved to an even more controversial topic of same sex relations. We assimilated the idea of ‘the gender spectrum’; a way of describing gender without conforming to the gender binary. It denotes gender as a continuum that includes male and female, but without establishing them as absolutes or polar opposites. The view of gender as a spectrum allows for the inclusion of identities besides male and female– specifically, it allows for the inclusion of intersex people, nonbinary gender identities, and nonbinary gender expressions.(re: the Queer Dictionary)
While we act as if same sex relationships is new to Africa, there have been cases reported within our continent that indicate the existence of this issue even before colonization. From Senegal to Southern Africa, many African gay men invoke the animistic belief in ancestor spirit possession. A Shona gay man in Zimbabwe claims he is inhabited by his ‘auntie’ whereas in Senegal, the gor-djigeen (male-female in Wolof) is haunted by the primordial severance between male and female in the Creation of the Universe. Just to state a few cases. (re:africasacountry.com)
Sex in Antiquity really opened up our minds to understanding the entirety of sex and sexual practices in the pre-colonial period. We would like to appreciate everyone who set aside time to learn with us as well as Art A Glance for facilitating the informative event.
June 21, 2019