Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa
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In the vivid tapestry of global queer cultures Africa has long been neglected or stereotyped. In Hungochani, Marc Epprecht seeks to change that by tracing the history and traditions of homosexuality in southern Africa, modern gay and lesbian identities, and the vibrant gay rights movement that has emerged since the 1980s. He explores the diverse ways African cultures traditionally explained same-sex sexuality and follows the emergence of new forms of gender identity and sexuality that evolved with the introduction of capitalism, colonial rule, and Christian education. government enquiries from the eighteenth century to the present, he traces the complex origins of homophobia. By bringing forth a wealth of evidence about once-hidden sexual behaviour, Epprecht contributes to the honest, open discussion that is urgently needed in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Homosexuality - or hungochani as it is known in Zimbabwe - has been denounced by many politicians and church leaders as an example of how Western decadence has corrupted African traditions. However, a bold new gay rights movement has emerged in several of the countries of the region since the 1980s, offering an exciting new dimension in the broad struggle for human rights and democracy unfolding on the continent.
heterosexism and other oppressive constructions of identity that are implicit to so much of our language and choice of audience. This, it needs to be reiterated, is at least as difficult as the gathering of evidence. It was extremely helpful in that respect to present research to a wide variety of audiences, including non-academic ones in Africa and North America. The range of audiences and critical input alerted me to occasions when turn of phrase or choice of words that at first seemed
“The Labour Movement in Zimbabwe: 1900–1945.” In Brian Raftopoulos and Ian Phimister, eds., Keep on Knocking: A History of the Labour Movement in Zimbabwe, 1900–97. Harare: Baobab, 15–16. Porter, Mary A. 1995. “Talking at the Margins: Kenyan Discourses on Homosexuality.” In William L. Leap, ed., Beyond the Lavender Lexicon: Authenticity, Imagination and Appropriation in Lesbian and Gay Languages. Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 133–53. Posselt, F. W. T. 1935. Fact and Fiction: A Short Account of
“makes him immortal,” that “the act of procreation is a sacred event” and that the male orgasm was comparable to God descending to the people (Aschwanden 1989, 38). The Shona tradition of praise poetry also valorizes sexual intercourse resulting in male orgasm and female pregnancy. In all three types of praise poem that were performed at public ceremonies, sexual accomplishment in that sense is central (Fortune and Hodza 1974). Shona aphorisms idealize this purposefulness as well. Hence, “a man
Portuguese were to blame for introducing their homosexual peccadilloes to unwary Africans. For now, however, neither oral tradition nor published accounts suggest anything of the sort. On the contrary, the Portuguese were renowned for their lusty behaviour with African women and for the tendency for each generation of Portuguese to become progressively more African in appearance and behaviour. By the end of the nineteenth century, many so-called Portuguese in the Zambezi valley not only had
blanket to sleep under. Men found guilty of sodomy in prison could be punished harshly. Under the British, however, Cape officials tended to regard these cases as a basically inevitable and non-threatening side effect of the maintenance of law and order. If the prisoners were discreet and it helped to keep them quiet, then male-male sex aided in the smooth, fiscally prudent management of potentially violent inmates. Making an occasional example by flogging the less discreet offenders showed