A New Language of Mourning for the Work of Justice

Fanny Ann Eddy was a courageous lesbian activist who lost her life in her pursuit of human dignity for LGBTI people and her vision for her beloved country of Sierra Leone to embrace all its children. Her amazing life and her senseless, brutal death provide the foreground for Dora King’s article, “Secrecy and the Poetics of Witness: Mourning Fanny Ann Eddy,” from Sexuality in Africa: July 2016 Special Issue, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa.

Secrecy and the Poetics of Witness: Mourning Fanny Ann Eddy

Dora King is a poet, singer, LGBTI activist, ethnographic researcher in public health and a doctoral student at Columbia University. Dora lived in Sierra Leone and Kenya before coming to the United States to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Her personal and research interests include gender, sexuality, literature, cinema, African culture and public health. As part of the African diaspora, she lives in New York City.

Kapya Kaoma says of Dora’s paper: “The lead essay by Dora King invites readers into the lived experiences of sexual minorities. King reflects poetically on the murder of an openly lesbian human rights advocate in her native country of Sierra Leone. While acknowledging the danger of existing in secrecy, King bemoans that ‘the secrecy that protects us can someday be the face of the impunity that murders us.’ This essay speaks to the wider issue of sexual politics—it is about people whose life-existence is constantly threatened by death.”

Fanny Ann Eddy, David Kato, Eric Lembembe, Maurice Mjomba and Eudy Simelane are all fallen sexual minorities on the African continent. Their names are known to us, and there are other names not known to us; and all of these LGBTI people should have been accepted and embraced by their families, faith communities and countries. They should have been protected by the religious and political leaders; rather than placed into harm’s way by religiously-sanctioned and politically-motivated homophobia and transphobia. Their lives and their deaths call us to keep doing this faith and justice work.

King closes her essay with inspiration from Adrienne Rich and Carolyn Forche: “And we will find the language that does not merely seek to expose the secret but to do justice with the truth.”