Unmasking the Colonial Silence: Sexuality in Africa in the Post-Colonial Context

Few persons are as passionately committed to the human dignity, equality and human rights of sexual and gender minorities in Africa than Rev. Kapya Kaoma. As a Visiting Research at Boston University’s Center for Global Christianity in Mission and an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University in Zambia, Rev. Kaoma’s research and writing peel away the layers of colonialism, the influence of missionaries, imperialism and globalization to discover the indigenous expressions of gender and sexuality in Africa.

We are grateful to share this new article by Kaoma from the special issue “Sexuality in Africa” of the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This special issue was published in July, 2016 and had its world premiere at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Unmasking the Colonial Silence: Sexuality in Africa in the Post­ Colonial Context

Kaoma’s article explores the silence associated with sexuality in Africa. Aside from examining the false premise that homosexuality is un-African and un-Christian, this article argues that sexuality in Africa was not only socially controlled, but also carried socio-ethical and sacred overtones. Against the belief that sexuality in Africa exists in silence, the article contends that in the traditional culture, sexuality was highly celebrated until missionaries attached shame to it—thus introducing the silence which is now defended as the default African position on human sexuality. The article concludes with some ethical considerations on sexuality in Africa.

Kaoma address critical questions of the day with regard to sexuality and gender in Africa today including lineage perpetuation, procreation, childlessness, intersex and the existence of African sexualities in the midst of globalized terminology about sexuality and gender. This article is posted on the Sexuality in Africa website. Posting of articles from the special issue “Sexuality in Africa” is done periodically. We commend Rev. Kaoma’s article to you, your education and your activism.

Photo: Arrest of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in 2010 for having a same-sex wedding ceremony in Malawi.