The Queerness That Is Africa

 

the queer Africa

I am African, but more brown than black–the kind my people like to call ‘chocolate’, even though those are traditionally of a darker shade. Perhaps we are colour blind, or maybe the word ‘chocolate’ just sounds very cool.

With brown hair, flared nose, and small full lips. My brows are bushy and hair kinky; but both are regularly tamed wielding a razor and armed with cream relaxers. I should add that my traditional kinky hair had always been a burden to bear as a child. And so my mother like many African mothers out there, blessed my frizzy kinks with the gentle touch of Lye. The results have been far more pleasurable than carrying a ‘fro around. Hard to believe we are only learning something can be done to make our nappy kinks hurt less.

I take pride in my full figured body, but sometimes I wish my hips were less curvy, my bosoms less ample, and bum less round. It’s the media I’m told. They fill our heads with what’s sexy and what isn’t. Make us less comfortable in our skin–women bleach, eat less, use long silky weave-on and wigs in place of our more beautiful hair. A woman should take pride in her body, they say. When it comes to our bodies and look, the African woman isn’t allowed the option of choice. It will always be chalked down to a lack of self esteem. In the heart of men, our minds are still colonized….or perhaps it’s the minds of those who make a big deal of this whose minds are still bound in technological slavery.

They say the Westerners have corrupted the minds of our women. With talks of empowerment, the education of the girl child have now gone beyond the confines of the kitchen and bedroom gallantry, and have found their way to political offices. Women now fight for traditional male positions and even dare prick their ego. We must never offend a man because he is The Man. Who else was given the benefit of being created first if not him. We must live our lives knowing that a man’s pride is the most important thing, and taking that away is tantamount to taking a life. A man must always be revered, whether at age 5 or 80. If you need more convincing reasons to do that, remember you will need a husband tomorrow.

Being a spinster past the ripe young age of 28 is NOT desirable. Our mothers barrage us with questions of when we will settle down in a man’s house, like that’s the ultimate achievement of any woman. Will someone tell our mothers and aunts that we have big dreams. Bigger plans. And that marriage is not the greatest thing a woman can do for herself. Our girls have been turned to man-hunters to preserve their dignity. It’s sad to see people settle for less in a spouse and confine themselves in a social bracket because they’re nearing the age gap where we have been told our market value begins to depreciate as women.
We must never forget a woman is a commodity. When it sits on the shelf too long, it becomes less desirable.

Children are gifts from God, but should your womb refuse to hold a seed long enough to give life, then it’s all your fault. You just may be a man after all. Or someone may have placed a curse on your womb; better still your mother-in-law is a witch swallowing your babies.
Should you eventually have those kids and they all come out in little pink frocks, then your husband is due for a second bride. God forbid there will be no one to carry the family’s name. See, a woman with one male child is better than another with ten females; she is a complete woman, and one who has fulfilled her original mandate: Ensure continuity, not just of the human race, but the family. There is everything in a name.
Children are gifts from God, only so much as they come according to description.

Never forget that the spiritual controls the physical. Literally. If something goes wrong in your life, it has less to do with the bad choices you made, and more with the spirit that inflicted you with that idea.
Deliverance is your best friend at all times and prayer is the key to solving all problems. Make it warfare and your answer will come speedily. Throw in a Seed of Faith and you’ll have placed the ministering angels on heaven’s fastest jet.

You are owned by your parents from your inception to their death. Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children obey your parents” is your watchword and will probably be the one book that will be quoted for the rest of your life. Verse 4 isn’t important. It is well within their parental right to make you miserable and angry every now and then, and within yours to endure and keep it together. One must learn how to cut the Bible up.
Give them what they want or you will never live down their disappointed look and constant reminder of how you shamed them.

No matter what happens in our life, the family must never be shamed. Bad choices are yours alone, but the world will always apportion the blame to your home. Never wash any linen in public.
When you find the need for closure, find an anonymous space and vent. The world will be unkind to you when you need kindness the most. They will dig up the sordid details of your past and plaster them on billboards. A bad name is infectious and your sins may just as well ruin it for everyone else to the third and tenth generation. No kidding.
Better yet, don’t vent. One must learn to suffer and smile. God blesses those who are happy….and more, those who pretend to be happy.

We get the right to be silly whenever we want to and display odd behaviors. Like screaming “holy ghost fire” when a bird flies past at night.
Destroy bird’s nests on our fences because they’re laying eggs of destruction.
Kill any cat we see hanging around our premises in the night. Nothing so cute and small should be fearless of man and stare him in the eyes.
Or sprinkle holy water and cross ourselves once an owl hoots close to our window or all the dogs within a 100mile radius begin to bark at 1am (there have been possible ghost sightings because these creatures can see beyond the physical realm).
The devil moves around in different forms and one must always be prepared for battle.

We are a people with deep cultural roots. And even though some of our customary values and beliefs may yet be seen as archaic–even amongst usโ€”and donโ€™t make a lot of sense, it’s part of the beauty and diversity that is us, the identity we clamour to hold on to, and the thing that makes us unique.
You see, in the end, it really doesn’t matter if the world thinks us backwards in thoughts and actions, nor if they brand us the “Third World”, we will be obviously too happy to bother. But then who wouldn’t be? God blesses those who stay happy.

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28 thoughts on “The Queerness That Is Africa

  1. Ross April 26, 2015 / 11:50 am

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    Liked by 1 person

  2. freeman4youth October 6, 2014 / 8:34 am

    I just made it a point of duty to GI through all your post, comment on the once I can and simply like the once you beat me to my diction.

    Though Africans gives priority to marriage and offcourse a male child to carry on the family, but it shouldn’t be a do or die affair where parents will go to the length of pushing their female offsprings into war. After all the bible says he “who has eterblished in his heart not to give her out in marriage does well”.

    I think our superstructure has done us a big harm by way of perceptions and indoctrination……I personally can trade my education for that of my sisters…….but I can’t say same of my parents…….Uju…….I must confess… You are one with words and I won’t mind knowing you beyond the press words

    Like

    • uju October 6, 2014 / 10:50 am

      That’s a prevalent problem with our society, I can’t help but wonder where all the marriage craze came from.
      Thank you finding my blog worthy of your time ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  3. Holistic Wayfarer September 9, 2014 / 1:45 pm

    Seriously – yours has so much in common with the Korean culture. Though we are not voluptuous. =) It is TouGh being a woman!!

    “In the heart of men, our minds are still colonizedโ€ฆ” And up ’til the modern era, our bodies were, too.

    Sigh.

    But as I said on my board in the comments, on just the right days (between cycles), I can sing the prize and privilege of womanhood. ^^

    Like

    • uju September 9, 2014 / 4:00 pm

      You make me want to visit Asia, Diana. It is tough being a woman, a having to shut your mouth most of the time because in the long run you still lose.

      I love those days. I’m having one now ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like

      • Holistic Wayfarer September 9, 2014 / 8:47 pm

        Go pamper yourself. Indulge in the girly stuff men don’t have to, I mean get to.

        lol

        Like

  4. obasi chidi September 1, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    Wow!! You are next Achebe,i love the article,it talks about africa women should not be self complex (inferiority complex). Please put in book.for women to buy,am intoxicated with the write-up.

    Like

    • uju September 1, 2014 / 3:48 pm

      Lol I’m flattered!
      Yeah nobody should have a complex, and no one should assume everything is an issue of complex too (men?).

      Like

  5. ifemmanuel August 31, 2014 / 6:16 am

    We are the things you have pointed out in this piece and even more and yes some of our beliefs are archaic. But I believe we should own both the bad parts and good parts of our culture and work individually and collectively toward moving ourselves forward, not as a validation to someone somewhere who wants to save us from our backwardness.

    I sometimes don’t know how to comment on things like this because I wasn’t brought up to see most of the problems folks point to. I still don’t know how that happened but I hope I find a way to raise my kids to see life for what it is, not to expect human beings to validate their looks and opinions and to simply be themselves.

    Yes I may be queer but it’s nobody’s business but mine. We are all bound to be inherently queer to each other.

    Well done Uju. I could relate to many of the things you highlighted (esp. screaming holyghost fire when a bird flies past at night ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Like

    • uju August 31, 2014 / 9:41 am

      I like that you’ve been raised to take life as it is–albeit how frustrating that can get. It’s good to stay grounded and learn to work with what we have ๐Ÿ™‚ while also ensuring that our need to move forward isn’t because we’re trying to set straight the opinions of others, but because we know it is the time for change. Change that comes this is lasting.

      Ah great. Anyone who hasn’t screamed at a night bird should spend more time outside ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you Ife.

      Like

  6. makagutu August 31, 2014 / 5:09 am

    I love this piece.
    How have you been my friend

    Like

    • uju August 31, 2014 / 9:25 am

      Thank you Mak.
      This one has been good. How are you?

      Like

  7. udoka_ August 30, 2014 / 9:31 pm

    Nice piece.

    Perfectly written. Its our heritage as Africans, we have to accept it first before trying to make amends. I guess that is the point you are trying to make.

    Kudos Uju, you wrote well.

    Like

    • uju August 30, 2014 / 11:19 pm

      We do need to learn to survive with it, but I’m joining the band that’s praying for speedy change ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  8. ericjbaker August 29, 2014 / 2:05 pm

    The strangest disconnect in the world is between what is considered attractive in the media and what is considered attractive in the real world. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that you need a man’s approval to be validated! But, since you brought it up, I know of no man who would find the description “curving hips, ample bosom, and round bum” to be in anyway distasteful. What looks good on a magazine cover or in a fashion advertisement is not really what looks good in person. I’ve met quite a few actresses who looked sexy on screen, only to discover that they appeared frighteningly scrawny in person. Once again, I know you aren’t asking for my advice or men’s approval and that feeling good about the way you look exists outside of trying to attract a mate. I’m only saying that when women compare themselves to media images of women (which are professionally lit and photoshopped on top of all that), it creates wholly unnecessary stress, anxiety, and self-criticism. Be a woman. Be black, Be proud. And f*** Y** anyone who has a problem with it.

    Chocolate sounds extra awesome if you say it in French. “sho-so-LAHT”

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju August 29, 2014 / 2:36 pm

      And there we go again. It is way beyond the media. Sometimes people just want to look different because we like the look of different. Say I’m pretty much attention shy so you can understand why men finding something to whistle about would make me nervous. Other times I really don’t mind looking the way I do. And my reactions are perfectly normal without my being told I pay too much attention to fashion magazines (which I don’t even subscribe to).

      Any advice from you is welcome all the same ๐Ÿ™‚

      ………Off to think of something clichรฉ to say now.

      Like

      • ericjbaker August 29, 2014 / 2:51 pm

        Sorry. No offense meant. I was merely discussing one point you made because I see blog posts every day from women (especially those of African heritage) who compare themselves, often unfavorably, to media images of women. I can’t comment on your experience as a Nigerian because, duh. Still read and absorbed.

        Like

        • uju August 29, 2014 / 3:29 pm

          None taken. I think we’re a prickly bunch ๐Ÿ˜€

          Like

          • ericjbaker August 29, 2014 / 3:30 pm

            No worries. Sometimes comments meant to be supportive can still miss the larger point.

            Like

  9. livelytwist August 29, 2014 / 12:35 pm

    Some things are changing fast. I do not know any African (personally), who thinks that education of the girl child is a bad idea. Marriage and religion, hmmm ๐Ÿ™‚ Change can take time, but I like to think it is on the horizon. One female president, several ministers, commissioners, and public office holders give me hope. My mother broke her back to pave the way for me and I’m doing the same for my daughter.

    Like

    • uju August 29, 2014 / 12:49 pm

      Last week someone said to me, “I don’t blame you. You’re now here speaking big grammar for me. I blame your parents who allowed you go to school and grow big wings.”
      I just stood there staring at him. sometimes I get the feeling that even if we are allowed to do stuff that weren’t originally open to us as women, we still are expected to view it as a privilege and not a right.
      Fly but not too high. Run but not too fast. Dive but not so deep. You’ve only been allowed these things, but they were ab initio made for men. Never forget to make him fee like he’s always in charge. You know like the Jews and Gentiles? The latter are allowed to eat what crumbs fall to the ground, but must never try to take a place at the table.
      Wasn’t it Wole Soyinka who months ago referred to us as “mere domestic appendages”?

      Hah I think you need to come home and spend more time with us ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like

      • livelytwist August 29, 2014 / 1:06 pm

        Ah Uju, there will be people who still think like that. I rarely meet them, and when I do, I feel deep pity for them, so much so, I spare them my response. I cited a few examples of change on the African continent. I could cite many more. For example, the parents I know who released their daughters to serve as maids insisted that the girls be educated or at least receive vocational training as part of the deal.

        I was brought up to believe the sky is the limit. The limitations I have faced have been mostly my own making. For me, it is not that “African Queerness” does not exist; it is that we can soar despite it. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Like

        • uju August 29, 2014 / 1:12 pm

          “For me, it is not that โ€œAfrican Queernessโ€ does not exist; it is that we can soar despite it. :)”

          So full of positivity. I believe you, we can soar despite it. Many have, many are, and so many more will ๐Ÿ™‚ I love watching our long walk to freedom.

          ๏†

          Liked by 1 person

  10. agrotconsult August 29, 2014 / 11:34 am

    The best piece since sliced bread- you really painted a general reflection of a typical african societal drama; portaying the beautiful and ugly realities of an everyday family life and of course, in a true african way. I love this piece to the bone. Thank you alot for this Uju.

    Like

    • uju August 29, 2014 / 11:54 am

      We Africans love what we have even if the rest of the world doesn’t.
      Thank YOU for loving it ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  11. Emeka August 29, 2014 / 11:20 am

    Nicely written. Reminds me of Chimamanda’s TEDtalk on feminism. Like they say, no other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill.

    Like

    • uju August 29, 2014 / 11:58 am

      Second time someone’s made reference to Chimamanda and something I’ve written.

      We are a very queer continent indeed. One reason I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

      Thank you for stopping by, Emeka.

      Like

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