When people talk of the clash of civilizations, they tend to refer to the clash of factions of Abrahamic civilizations (Arabo-Islamism and Judeo-Christianity), anchored on shared worldview. Though real, this clash is not as pure as the clash of African and Indo-European civilizations, which are anchored on totally different worldviews. In recent years, nothing has manifested this African and Indo-European civilizational clash as homosexuality.
The Africa Policy of President Barack Obama; first African-American President of the United States, ended in a fiasco because of clash over homosexuality. Both of his Secretaries of State; Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, somehow, made missionary promotion of homosexuality the anchor of Obama Africa policy. Obama, himself, went to Senegal to preach to Africa about accepting homosexuality as a human right. He was told, right there by his host President, to talk of other things. Predictably, the result was, unfortunately, overall dismal performance of Obama Africa policy. It was bound to fail, and failed.
Things turned so absurd that Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, who the Western world was trying to isolate over policy disagreements, was elected Chairman of both the Southern African regional organization and the continental African Union. This was done to spite the Americans, and their Western allies, over a policy Africans consider insensitive and insolent. To top-up the absurdity, Mugabe made a ridiculous marriage proposal to President Obama, who has a gorgeous wife of his own.
This is, definitely, not something either Africa or the history-making President Obama would cherish at a moment like that in history. Both sides were losers for it. The loss is the unfortunate cost of the clash of civilizations. President Obama is a great African-American who, apparently, hasmostly European worldview due to education.
One wishes he understood why Africans are so averse to the homosexual rights issue.
I got to know about homosexuality in the United States. The family of, now, DrNkemGoddyEkeh and mine were friends, way back before we were born.
We are age-mates, went to the same High School and flew to America in the same plane to school at the same University. At the University, we took many courses together and spent a lot of time together. One day Ahmed Kanu, a Sierra Leone student who was earlier than us at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, invited us to his room. Once in, he asked us “What’s wrong with you people, walking about campus holding hands. Americans think you are homosexuals.
Do you think here is Africa, where men hold hands as friends with nothing in mind?” He further explained that it was a sensitive social issue in America at the time, particularly among African-Americans, who were more averse to it. Goddy and I, spontaneously, turned and pushed each other away, laughing, with a strange embarrassment. Thereafter, we kept an efficient distance, as we walked together on the campus. We had both fought in Biafra, with women distant from the war fronts, but nobody talked of homosexuality, to the best of my knowledge.
History books say the very opposite of the experience in Biafra happened when the Romans, in ancient times, invaded Britain. British young men were said to have made passes at the Roman soldiers, and felt slighted when not obliged as lovers. A diverse world indeed! Has homosexuality physiological, psychological or cultural origin, or combination? No one knows for sure, although some evidence point to some biological aberration. What history tells is that from ancient times the attitude towards human genitalia, sex and reproduction between Africans and Indo-Europeans have been radically different. Sufficient evidence exists to talk of a marked difference in ‘genitalio-reproductive system’ culture between Africans and Indo-Europeans.
When the Hebrew left Africa’s Egypt for the Mideast, they were embarrassed to run into uncircumcised men, they called gentiles. This was against the standard practice in Africa where they came from, at the time. Foreign scholars, like Pythagoras and Abraham himself, were required to be circumcised before they were admitted to schools in Egypt. In this particular issue of circumcision, Africans did not discriminate against women, which is now a problem for the Western world that pursues pleasure as human right. The same reason of sexual hygiene and self-control; by the minimization of arousal, applied to justify the circumcision of both sexes. The legendary African amazon; strong-willed and independent women, were cultivated at the conscious expense of sensual pleasure. It is unreasonable to combine emotional, sensual, dependency with intellectual independence, which is why foreign students were circumcised in Africa’s Egypt.
Universal, hygienic, circumcision is also why the Hebrew called gentiles unclean, which they would not have called Africans. Today, experience with HIV/AIDS has vindicated the Africans’ ancient link of uncircumcision and greater infection. Uncircumcised people are more susceptible to infection. Today, Mozambique, with foreign financial help, is circumcising males who were not earlier circumcised to reduce their susceptibility to infection…their ‘uncleanliness’.
Outside Africa, too, the Hebrew met Sodom and Gomorrah…a realm of sensual licentiousness. Their African sojourn had not prepared them for the amplified culture shock of homosexuality. Again, if HIV/AIDS is to be used as marker, homosexuals have been known to be more susceptible to infection. So, purely on hygienic grounds, to promote homosexuality or uncircumcision in Africa, is to promote de-civilization.
De-civilization is also the consequence of Indo-European destruction of the African three-year birth gap. Today, science has established like ancient Africans, that the ideal birth gap is three years; which allows mother to be holistically restored, and baby to thrive. Now, when African population seems to grow rapidly on narrow Indo-European birth-gap regime, people don’t think, naturally, of doing the right thing…restoring the three-year birth gap. Instead, they think of more insidious ways of ‘culling’ African population. People, mischievously, forget that Africa was depopulated by the Slave trade and is only recovering to a more appropriate population. It was 19% world population before slave trade, and about 12% now. The very framework of African society; through age-grades is, also, based on the three-year birth gap. Three-year birth-gap establishes, between siblings, who is in charge…who takes primary responsibility in the absence of parents or adults. With imported Indo-European narrow birth-gap regime, nobody takes responsibility, and de-civilizational anarchy is let loose on society. One finds siblings of different ages wearing diaper at the same time. Who cleans up the other?
Indo-European archeological scholars have been combing mountains of Egyptian Literature, over thousands of years, in search of hints of homosexual culture in Pharaonic Egypt. The result of such major effort has been very dismal. Pharaonic Egypt was an African civilization and, basically, did what other African cultures did. And this originated from a shared worldview. Also, those who read history upside down would claim that Africans object to homosexuality because of the influence of the Abrahamic religions…Christianity and Islam. It is clear that the reverse is the truth. The attitudes of these religions to homosexuality is conditioned by what Abraham learnt during his Egyptian sojourn in Africa.
Indo-European civilization is based on variable Law-giver. From God, oracle, king, and the people to philosopher can be law-giver. It is difficult to cross-check Indo-European social laws against a UNIVERSAL STANDARD. This leads to un-natural social ‘sciences’ and inherent ideological conflicts and violence. Africa had no such conflicts until Indo-European invaders brought them from their troubled realms. African civilization is based on laws transmitted from God (to whom no human beings have direct access) through Mother-Nature to Humans. Mother-Nature was called Aset/Isis by ancient Egyptians, Ala among the Igbo, and other names among other Africans. But, her nature and symbolic representation was the same, all over. African traditional laws are, therefore, Naturalistic Laws and cross-checkable from Nature, as Universal Reference. The repeating pattern of Nature, which Igbo call “O meje-emeje-n’Ala”, contracted to Omenala, is the African idea of a Law. It is probabilistic (This is why African knowledgeexperts/medicine-men; Dibia,employ divination-beads; ‘throw dice’, so to say. Dibia means, literally, Deep-knowledge-master. The term ‘medicine man’ is a trivialization) and imperfect, but cross-checkable in Nature and improvable. This African kind of law; chancy… non-absolute, is called scientific law.
When the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, addressing Commonwealth Heads of Government, recently, said “though most of the laws against same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth were made by the United Kingdom, those laws were wrong then, and are wrong now”, she is, correctly, talking of a system of laws that depended on the whims and caprices of the ‘Law-giver’, in this case the British monarch. This is a system of law-giving, in which the law is artificial and varied with place and time. But Africans would want to know, then and now, what Mother-Nature thought of such a law, and why any law would not be subject to a universal standard. Or is May implying that there were no laws on such issues before the British imposed what the people thought, and told them, were mostly misguided laws, and mostly ignored. Mrs. May might want to know why Africans thought some of the laws Britain ‘gave’ them as abominable, because they violated Natural laws. In 1929, in the Aba Women’s Revolt, women in Eastern Nigeria overthrew such laws because they were thought un-natural and abominable.
The same 1929 women had not seen it fit to overthrow the practice of female circumcision, which they themselves instituted and carried out (women professionals carried out the circumcision of both male and female children). Now someone is calling female circumcision genital mutilation. Someone is also claiming men, who were not involved, did it to mutilate female pleasure. When the women that did it did so for long term hygienic reasons and to afford women greater emotional self-control (I jideonwe aka)? Mutilatedsensual-pleasure versus mutilated self-control! Different peoples, different worldviews; different practical consequences.
In African natural law system, Mother-Nature has created male and female as complementary reproductive pair. In fact, African philosophy holds that the Universe is a realm of complementary binaries (Iheuwabuokenanne; things of the world come as male-female pairs; complementary binarism. So, to confuse maleness and femaleness is to, under any pretext, create confusion in African cosmology). Any law outside this natural functional frame is not a law at all, in the African mind.And if in violation of Natural Law, it is an abomination (Africans think of abomination as distortion of natural pattern).
How does a law promoting homosexual marriage fit into this Natural scheme? What is the functional purpose of such a law and marriage? Of course some Indo-European would say, it is to make beneficiaries ‘happy’. If one translated the pursuit of happiness into an African language, Igbo…Oso Anuri…a striving after happiness, as a major purpose of life, it does sound strange. It sounds ridiculous, as what serious adults should concern themselves with. Serious people are engaged in Osondu…striving- for-life. Now a good life; Ezindu, which is the ideal life encompasses health, freedom, happiness, etc. Why pursue apparition in place of substance?
But it turns out such artificial laws, as law-givers give, would not only defeat Nature-intended functions, but could create social confusion. The whole idea of law and of civilization is to promote predictability in social interaction, which is called ORDER. When males and females are no longer distinguishable as sexual partners of choice in a given society, what happens? A man meets another man and makes passes at him? Greater probability is that it will lead to trouble than to friendship. This is the practical meaning of social chaos. But if a man makes a pass at a woman, the non-violent outcome is more predictable…Order! Does pleasing a few physiological or psychological challenged in society while promoting universal deviation and interactional chaos worth it? Can we also achieve the same ‘happiness’ for other biologically or psychologically challenged? Africans realize that probabilistic laws, based on populations, are imperfect, but know also that it is the best that can be had, unless one wants to play God. The world, they accept, is not a realm of perfections…uwaezuoke!
Science has shown that Natural Laws are the best laws humans can make under given circumstances. The Africans discovered this fact a long time ago. Indo-Europe is, through modern science, learning this fact, but has not sufficiently domesticated it. It is not right to drag Africa from her ancient scientific path of Mother-Nature’s laws into the confused path of artificial, and unstable, human laws…into de-civilization.
The African recognition of the imperfections of the laws of Nature as abstracted by humans, requires that continuous effort be made to understudy and understand Nature more, and update such laws. Knowledge is a great forest, Africans hold, it can never be exhaustively probed. The all-knowing human; Amatachamiheuwa, among the Africans, is a fool. Only God is all-knowing! History shows that Africans do indeed upgrade the natural laws they have abstracted, including those applying to society as a whole. They know such knowledge are probabilistic, and subject to error (that is why African knowledge men; the medicine men, throw divination-beads in search of knowledge they know is chancy).
The case of twins is a case in point on time-wise knowledge upgrade. The oldest person born surviving twin in my community is my immediate younger brother, Chimdindu. But, after two generations twins are now, generally, accepted because no adverse consequence has been observed with those who were encouraged by Christian missionaries to keep such twin. But, the underlying natural law system on which the earlier policy of twin-infanticide was based is still valid, with inherent probabilities of having triplets, etc. The rate of twining; including multiples and associated health challenges, is much higher among Africans than Europeans. So, a different social policy towards twins in a culture that practiced eugenics from earliest times is only logical. Again, the probabilistic laws, as employed by Africans, are generic. They apply to humans and non-humans; living and non-living, without discrimination. Among other animals, a hen that lays only one egg or local muturu cow (normally bears singletons, like humans) that bears twins are no longer killed, as they were, like human twins. Ancient Africans ought, indeed, be celebrated for not making themselves natural law outlaws. To have killed muturu cow twins and hen singletons, for examples, while sparing their own twins would have been the greater sin against Mother-Nature.
While appreciating the new rules that spared my younger siblings (one more pair of twins after the first), one cannot insist that society, to keep affected couples happy, allow sicklecell sufferers, for example, to marry each other, when they know the long term consequences. In this case, modern science and traditional knowledge agree. They apply the same restrictive rules; discouraging gene-carrier marriage to minimize social, emotional and material cost to family and society, in the long run.
The best novel out of Greco-Roman civilization is The Golden Ass. The author of the Golden Ass is Lucius Apuleius; a North African Roman of Berber extraction. The Golden Ass is semi-autobiographical. It is a novel in the genre of what they now call magical realism. Lucius Apuleius had travelled, studied and taught, throughout the then Roman empire, and beyond, of the second century AD. One thing that struck Apuleius, and he took time to highlight in his book, was the fact that only the Africans had very clear idea of Mother-Nature and lived by her laws. In the book, he had an epiphany of Isis/Mother-Nature, who revealed to his enquiring persona:
“Here I am, Lucius, roused by your prayers. I am the Mother of the world of Nature. In one land the Phrygians…hail me as the Pessinuntian mother of the gods; elsewhere the native dwellers of Attica call me…Minerva; the Cretan Diana… others still Rhamnusia. But the peoples on whom the rising sun-god shines with his first rays—eastern and western Ethiopians, and the Egyptians who flourish with their time-honoured learning—worship me with the liturgy that is my own, and call me by my true name, which is queen Isis”.
Understanding Nature from time honored learning, and abstracting her laws (Science) is why Homer could write that Egyptians doctors were the first scientists of the World. Note that Ethiopian is Greek term for Black African. Apuleius’ book is evidence that the ancients knew of this unique African system of Naturalism and reflected on it, as an academic concern. Interestingly, I met a Berber professor at a conference in 2015. In the course of our discussion I had asked him why the Arab Spring, a few years earlier, did not seem to have impacted Morocco, his country. Without hesitation, he said to me “We have no interest in the Arab Spring. We await the Spring-of-Isis!” I was shocked into a happy silence. My Igbo people also await the day, as Olaudah Equiano had predicted, we shall return to the ways of Mother-Nature. A return to Iwuala, as our ancestors lived, in order to have a nature-ordered and stable society again. We await the Spring of Obatala! Africa awaits the Spring-of-Isis!!
President Yoweri Museveni, of Uganda, is now the most vocal leader voicing out against the Western world attempt to impose homosexuality; and the worldview it is anchored on, on Africa. He, like the President of Senegal talking to President Obama or Robert Mugabe, Goodluck Jonathan and other leaders across Africa, in recent times, reflect a rejection of a fundamental Indo-European attack against African cosmology. It is a clash of civilizations; African and Indo-European, at the most fundamental, cosmological, level. The West should ease out, and allow Africa pursue her life-for-all aspiration! They are, inadvertently, trying to impose an alien epistemology in displacement of a far more naturalistic and efficient, though not perfect, African system. There must be some ways of alleviating the existential challenges of socio-biologically challenged peoples, like homosexuals, without promoting de-civilization at the same time.
There are other, perhaps more serious, issues at stake in today’s world than the pursuit of individual sensual pleasures that, inadvertently, create emotional dependency and other confusion. For instance, the pursuit of the African environment-friendly ideal of ‘Life-for-all-Life’; including none humans. And, the articulation of natural/scientific social science that will help understand and help those stressed-up at the unstable margins of society. We can talk to understand each other more, for a better; happier, world for ALL. Civilizational missionary presumptions are no help to either party in this clash of world civilizations, within an imperfect world in transitional flux.
By Chidi G Osuagwu, PhD