As we enter a new year, I pray that Africa will find a new breed of leaders who can stand their ground. Because right now, it appears as if Africa is still being controlled by the West. They say “jump”, and we say “how high”? All this has to stop!
All too soon, another year has gone by. Yes, 2011 is officially over and we now welcome 2012. First of all, a very Happy New Year to you, the wonderful readers of New African. And by the way, you will be happy to know that yours truly was voted “Best Journalist” by the Ghana Society UK for sharing my monthly “Reflections” in New African. So, have you made your New Year’s resolution, or more importantly, have you kept to it? I stopped making New Year’s resolutions ages ago. Simply because most times the resolutions I make are to stop doing things … yes, things that, although they may not always be good for me, I still enjoy! And before the first month of the New Year even ends I find myself breaking my resolution. So I say “no more”.
But I do make wishes. And one wish I have for Africa this year and the years to come is that as the world becomes more and more globalised (or Americanised as I see it), I hope Africa can still hold on to its good age-old traditions, cultures and values, especially the ones that keep the very fibre of society together. I am talking about the values such as respect for elders, and African weddings and naming ceremonies.
It is with this in mind that I applaud the Ghanaian president, Prof John Atta Mills, and other African presidents, for their stance on homosexuality. Before all the pro-gays get excited, let me say loud and clear that I am not against homosexuality. I believe that what people do in the privacy of their own homes, which does not hurt anybody, should be their own business. Thus, if someone chooses to be gay, at home, I see no reason why they should be persecuted. You see I say “at home”. Let me tell you why.
In most African societies, public display of affection (or PDA for the really funky and cool) between a couple is frowned upon. Now I don’t care if that couple is made up of a man and woman, or a woman and woman, or a man and man. Growing up in the UK, from the age of 10, I came to accept PDA as something normal. But after years of living in Ghana and coming back to the UK, I find that I am disgusted when I see couples, especially young ones (sometimes they look as young as 13), groping each other in public. Every time I see a man and woman practically swallowing each other, in public, I think “Why?” Then I say a silent prayer for Africa and hope that the day never comes when we behave like this, or more importantly accept it as the normal thing to do.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a prude. There is nothing wrong if a couple want to hold hands and look at each other affectionately. But come on, something should remain private and only take place behind closed doors. In the West, almost everything is allowed in public. Including the display of homosexuality. In these parts of the world, homosexuals have the right to get married and have children. This is not the case across Africa. Except for South Africa (where gay rights are enshrined in the constitution).
Many people across Africa believe that homosexuality is against God. Yet many more also say “Yes but it takes place”. Now just because something takes place, does that make it right? Does that then make it okay to normalise it? For example, in the olden days, girls were married off to older men at a very young age. But now, across the world, an old man having sex with a young girl is seen as paedophilia. Because somewhere along the line, societies recognised that this was wrong. That physically and mentally a young girl is not meant to be with an old man. So now society points the finger at any man who is known or seen to be sexually involved with young girls.
So what was once normal became a taboo. Yes it still goes on. But does that mean we should accept it as the norm? Just like homosexuality. Yes, it still goes on. But Africans believe God created man and woman to be together. That, the idea of a man being with another man, or a woman with another woman, is man-made.
And I applaud President Mills and the other African presidents for sticking to this belief when faced with the threat of a cut in aid by the British prime minister, David Cameron. Okay, so Cameron did not specifically target Ghana when he said Britain would cut aid to countries with anti-gay legislation. But the Ghanaian president decided to answer him anyway.
And for the first time in a very long time in African history, we saw real African sitting presidents who were not afraid to stick to what their people believe to be right. For the first time in a very long time, Africa was able to say thanks but no thanks. How refreshing!
All across Ghana, from the churches to the schools, to the man in the street, everybody was affronted by Cameron’s demands. And President Mills was not afraid to tell Cameron so. Faced with the thought of never receiving any more aid from the UK, President Mills stuck to his guns and said the constitution of Ghana did not recognise homosexuality, so the UK can keep its aid if there are homosexual strings attached.
And if you think about it, it makes sense. Look, society is made up of people. And in this world, there are only two types of gender that make up people – man and woman. If society is to keep going, then man and woman will always have to mate. If all women had sex with only women and men only men, the world would end.
Biologically, two people of the same gender cannot “go forth and multiply”. For society to grow, men and women need to be having sex with each other. Plain and simple. Yet in the Western world, a man can marry a man and a woman a woman. After which they can decide to adopt a child. So, who should give birth to that child for them to adopt?
But as I said earlier, if people want to be homosexuals (at home), I have no problem with that. The problem arises for me when society is forced to accept homosexuality as the norm. I mean, how can the prime minister of Britain tell Africa to do this? Just because the West embraces homosexuality does not make it normal. And Africa is standing by its beliefs!
Sometimes a society needs taboos to keep order! Does this make any sense? Sometimes I think certain things are not “allowed” so that there is some sort of sense and sanity. For example, in some parts of Africa it is still a taboo for women to smoke. Interestingly, most Western countries are now outlawing smoking in public places because they have recognised the danger to non-smokers.
All around us, societies are breaking down. From the extended family to the nuclear family, and from single-parent families to homosexual families. As we enter a new year, I pray that Africa will find a new breed of leaders who can stand their ground. Because right now, it appears as if Africa is still being controlled by the West. They say “jump”, and we say “how high”? If the West does not like our leaders, they orchestrate a coup. If the West wants our oil, gold, diamonds and other natural resources, they simply take it under unfair trade deals or get some pliant leaders who will give it to them for a song.
If the West wants to run our economies, they again do so under ties that are placed on aid and funding. All this has to stop. We have everything we need on the continent to be self- sustaining. What we need now are leaders who will show us how to be self-sustaining.
But hey, these are just the reflections of an ordinary African woman.