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Africa's Ethical Dilemma in the Face of Westerm Alternative Sexual Orientation

Africa's Ethical Dilemma in the Face of Westerm Alternative Sexual Orientation

Abstract

Introduction

In this essay, I examine African axiology, with a view to eliciting the fundamental influences of Euro-American and Asiatic-Arabic imperial cultural ideas on Africana consciousness about sexuality. I attempt this being very mindful of the problematic of distilling a uniform Africana consciousness, given the myriad of cultural beliefs and adherences of peoples of African descent; yet there is no difficulty in my mind that most peoples of African descent would embrace filial orientations that are more in accord with the natural understanding of sexuality as an interface between opposing genders.

We note that with the internationalization of spontaneous information dissemination on a globalized format, instantaneously from direct source and unmediated by any apparent control mechanisms, there is a sense in which events and incidents in any part of the world become consumption information items everywhere in the world immediately. This has brought with unequal cultural/ethical interfaces in the realms of human interactions, thereby making unpredictable the various tropes for reacting to these exchanges and coping mechanisms for mediating the divergences to prevent perpetual discord.

The area of human sexuality has been one in which, because of the awkwardness and intimateness of the issues involved, there have been reprobate, degenerate, subliminal and patronizing reactions on various cultural fronts to different cultural practices contesting for universal validity and acceptance. This is even more remarkable in the Africana setting, where the indigenous traditions and practices have become tools for idolization and/or demonization, at the same time, of practices which speak to human sexuality within these indigenous or traditional cultural spaces. Thus, spaces of human personal and cultural beauty, genital treatment, procreation and pleasure have become centers of unnecessarily stressful contestations, impositions of views external to domestic cultural ideas and ideals, while at the same time reifying to absolutist truisms ideas from external sources which are backed by socio-epistemic metaphysics alien to the indigenous peoples being imposed on. In light of the foregoing, it has become very difficult not to find divergences of beliefs and conceptions of ideals being the victims of intolerant affront by those who have the technological, financial and political power to impose (and have imposed) their own culturally evolved positions on the rest of humanity.

 

Values as Bearers of Cultural Institutions

Doxologia culturophobia, is a phenomenon in which, as a consequence of hundreds of years of one’s ancestry being continually and deliberately denied the intellectual foundations of one’s existence, interspersed with critical infusion of self-hatred, one not only begins to be afraid of knowing the belief systems which sustained one’s ancestors, but, (a) one is afraid of being associated with such knowledge and traditions, (b) one does not want anything to do with such memories as they remind one of what may have led to one’s ancestral subjugation and underdevelopment today, (c) one becomes the most vocal critic of one’s ancestral knowledge systems, and (d) one becomes the most vocal advocate of the eternal destruction of one’s ancestral cultural heritage.

This disease suffuses the psyches of nueveaux convertees to the paradigms derived from Euro-American and Asiatic-Arabic influences, paradigms which do not in any way recognize the humanity of African “self’ except as the “other” (the antithesis of the civilized white male), creating a zealotry in the newly converted, who is then willing to kill, maim, pillage and destroy all (physically, intellectually and culturally) in his/her path, in order to gain acceptance in the presence of his/her new masters, as well as for admission into the fabricated eternities brought by these destroyers of the indigenous traditions, knowledge systems and values. Indeed, these categories of “educated” elites are the most vile of the culturophobes, as they fail to see parallels between the superstitions, myths and metaphors of their new found civilizations and those of their ancestors, but they are eager to deny the superstitiousness of alien traditions, calling them scientific, civilization or development, while virulently denigrating their own ancestral intellectual heritage.

This is why doxologia culturophobia, the flipside of epistemicide (destruction of the indigenous knowledge systems of colonial societies and on slave plantations in the West), becomes a veritable enemy of Africana humanity, in as much as it is aimed at the substitution of foreign ancestors, gods, mytho-poetics, dress codes, languages, aesthetics, culinary and sexual habits (perversions), with no relevance to one’s geo-ecological domicile and humanities for the African traditional and indigenous ones, without sensing the perniciousness of these efforts, and their consequences for humanity generally and Africana peoples especially. Clearly orchestrated on Africana consciousness by those who have developed cinti-Nubism or Nubiphobia, with active participation of intellectually barren elites of African descent, Africana peoples have been turned into their own worst cultural enemies, becoming the cheerleaders for the eternal subjugation of Africana humanity in all cultural spaces; they have become the most virulent advocates of the artificiation of knowledge on the one hand, as being only producible and reproducible within the tentacles of Western spaces, while on the other, leading to the process of the destruction of indigenous knowledge systems because they have been orphaned as they are with no heredity nor are they claimed by the inheritors of these knowledge systems.

We argue that this mental affliction, bred of deliberate epistemicide, does not have any place in the contemporary intellectual space of modern society, and we argue that it is a mistake in the first instance when Africana cultural values were destroyed in the process of colonization and the partitioning of the continent, and it remains a mistake now even when it has mutated and taken on new dimensions; and this is with a view to assisting in deconstructing the foundations upon which it (doxological culturophobia) is built, and to show that there cannot be two or more standards for humanity; one which valorizes the ethno-cultural values of one group of people from one part of the world, while the other demonizing the ethno-cultural values of the rest of humanity, encouraging human groups in the “other” to totally abandon their historical, metaphysical, scientific, cultural, social and political roots to embrace the value systems of the dominating, hegemonic and imperialist cultures. Examples of these problems which we have identified above are taken from within the realms of human culture writ large, as instruments for the making of knowledge systems, onto-genesis and existence, especially those concerned with the beliefs, ideologies and paradigms which support the appreciation of beauty and sexuality, to undergird the pertinent illustrations needed to make our case regarding the negative effects of doxological culturophobia in Africana intellectual disposition.

 

Axiology and Human Sexuality

Two pertinent segments of axiology in which humans in civilized and culturally conscious societies are able to give vent to their humanity in the expression of their capacity for appreciation and discrimination between various value options and interests are ethics and aesthetics. But the domain of aesthetics differ from others, as in this domain idiosyncrasies are better tolerated than elsewhere. This is because it is within the realms of aesthetics that humans can to certain degree unapologetically exercise the choices they do, regardless of what other persons, groups of persons, or other societies feel or think about such choices.

This does not mean that in the exercise of our individual humanity in this fashion there are no disputes about the rightness, pleasantness, goodness or appropriateness of such expression or even the reality of the influence of our cultures on our choices. Humanity will be dull if uniformity of preferences, interests, proclivities and propensities become the norm; which is why the tapestry of our aesthetic interests are as multitude as they are disparate - from culinary habits and preferences, to choices of colours in dresses, from the decorative flowers and pottery we exhibit in the spaces we inhabit, to even the fact that siblings have often incompatible choices in filial associations. Hence Yoruba culture recognizes the validity of the choice of Oloto (the owner of difference) to be different, and why siblings prefer to eat in different plates (Bewaji 2012, 2,013). Further, people are not unmindful of existence of aberrant and deviant tendencies, even in sexual accidents and orientations: this is why it is said in Yoruba culture, “o ran oju kankan bi a do fnro”, which means that “his eyes are fixed wide like someone engaged in the unusual/ abnormal/deviant/unnatural task/error of attempting to penetrate another person’s anus with the penis”!

This does not mean that there are no conscious and unconscious efforts by members of various societies and social institutions within them to determine the kinds of choices that human beings are (must be) able to make, both in their own societies as well as in other societies, under whatever guises, using every available instrument at their disposal. These are putative choices predicated on grounds ranging reason, nature, divine inspiration or revelation, tradition, science, etc., as grounds for imposing these culturally specific ideas on the weak, intellectually lazy or poor societies.

The freedoms which individual members of society are capable of exercising are often dependent on the traditions and cultures which over- and under-determine the consciousness of the possibilities and the

parameters for exercising them. Thus, societies are responsible for the shaping of the kinds of options, possibilities, opinions, beliefs, standards of right and wrong, ideas about absolute good and evil, and ultimately the choices and preferences that individual members of society are able to perceive and exercise.

While society attempts to mandate certain choices, values, ideals as preferable to others, because they are conducive to order, peace and values which have evolved over time to propagate welfare of members of the society, there are segments of society who feel they have to go against the norm, standard and values of the society. The same applies to how one society relate to another, whereby members of one society often tend to

believe the values, ideals and prejudices of their society are normal,

natural, better, representative of eternal realities or immutable laws of existence and, as such, are more in tune with how things ought to be; and where such a society (or their members) has the resources, power and capacity, such values, ideas and ideals are imposed on societies they come in contact with either peacefully or otherwise.

There have been debates about issues within this context by philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, theologians and other intellectuals under such headings as relativism, symbolism, naturalism, subjectivism, functionalism and universalism (Bewaji 2012). The valuable lesson that humanity seems to have learnt is that while we may all be human, there is no universal, uniform, or verifiable objective concatenation of factors which socially, culturally and ethically combine to determine one human nature to validate universal value judgments (Bewaji 2013). But we often ignore this when mischief is afoot and weaker societies or groups are there to oppress. This is why monarchies are maintained at great cost in Europe, propping up decadent vestiges of feudalism, while similar institutions around the colonial world are rubbished as antiquarian left-overs of primitive, non-modem and non- democratic dictatorships.

While contemporary society, as defined by Western culture, suggests that there is freedom of choice in the values that individuals embrace, it is clear that this is more or less a facade to cover up the deliberate culturally determined control mechanisms which dictate that the real choices members of society can exercise with regard to sexual and aesthetic orientations are only those ones ingrained in Euro-American concept of happiness, pleasure, human fulfillment and hedonistic ends of existence. Through all the apparatuses of domination, from education to film, from politics to religion, from cable television to internet, from multilateral political agencies to international financial institutions, and from art to culinary ideas, deliberate efforts are made to foist on the peoples of non- Westem societies the ideas, ideals and maladies of Western societies as the norms of human civilization, development and progress.

Western global dominance of international finance, science and technology, media and tools of information propagation and propagandizing, military capacity for wanton destruction of life and property, influence in the multilateral agencies as well as colonial hegemony have persisted for the greater part of modem era. Even those intellectually, aesthetically and morally barren elements of Western culture, such as the glorification anorexic women as the standard of beauty, eating nutritionally dangerous fast food on the run as evidence of modernity, support for apartheid regime of Israel in Palestine as the height of humanism, and embrace of so-called alternative sexual orientation as the height of defense of individual liberty and equality, have all become markers of Western global domination.

Any challenge of these domination markers from whatever quarters, for whatever reasons, are regarded as an affront to “our” collective (read Western) humanity and evidence of (our) backwardness! In the case of Africana lives, post-slavery, post-colonialism, and within the well protected realities of neo-colonialism, is this evidence of invasive, insidious and indefensible dictatorship of Euro-American and Asiatic- Arabic cultures, imposing divergent and often personality-disordering and dislocating tendencies on the Africana personhood. Partitioned between the capitalistic, Judaic, Christocentric and individualistic cultural ideas ingrained in Western psyche on the one hand, with contradictory trajectories envisioned by the ideas of values and sexualities that it inveigles on the hapless Africana peoples, and, on the other hand, being pulled violently into the vortex of Islamo-Asiatic-Arabic ideas of human servitude to the way of life that bodes no competition in its compulsive dictations about archaic values and hypocritical sexualities, then the Africana individual is faced with doxologia culturophobia as the only means of escape!

Axiology, as we noted above, deals with value in various forms, but they are diverse values as formulated by human beings within culturally engineered foundations to express their approvals and disapprovals. The most obvious domain in which axiological ideas and ideologies are represented and discussed is in the arts and morality, while only elliptically they are recognized as such in religion, politics, economics, science, technology and social-judicial aspects of judgment. For many cultures around the world, the distinction between aesthetics and ethics is not as clear, as the value choices of one area impacts the choices of others, thereby negating the idea of ethically neutral aesthetic beliefs (Bewaji 2013).

Consider efforts to understand the basic concept “art” in Western intellectual tradition. What we find is that “art” is defined so narrowly and functionally that there is less room for the accommodation of this important concept from the perspective of other cultures. This is a functional understanding of art which means the artist, by default, becomes a professional who lives on the fruit of the art created by him or her. It means that in other cultures where the artist does not depend on her creative contribution to society for a living, the product of her effort is not really art! Miraculously, for instance, the old art of tattoos and various forms of bodily decorations and scarifications of Africa have now been (re)discovered as a civilized mode of bodily decoration in the West, especially in America, and is no longer dubbed barbaric or primitive mutilation of body or abuse of the human body associated with the backward primitive natives. It has transmuted into sophisticated plastic art now performed by ‘highly skilled’ surgeons, for which huge sums of money are paid to the parasitic professionals with dubious real value added to culture, civilization and development. The irony has been the fact that the patent no longer belongs to the ancient peoples of Africa who used these various art forms for body decoration and ethnic identification in periods of peace and inter-ethnic strife and as bonds of cooperation, celebration of achievement, marks of honor, bestowals of recognition, excellence and superiority in competition and expressions of beliefs in love, relationships with others and with the supernatural forces (Bewaji 2013).

Clearly the pluralistic nature of society, combined with the ready availability of information in a way not hitherto anticipated, have bred a transcendence of most culturally tethered norms of dressing in some societies, leading to some strange transvaluation of values. These factors have blurred the need to be specifically dressed for special functions, with special attention to respect for correctness in appearance. Thus, one now finds persons mixing casual and formal dresses (women are now universally wearing undergarment as dresses for formal and semi-formal occasions), while in some situations there is no respect at all for any dress code.

This is clearly, in our view, a debilitative development that is fast enveloping Africana cultures and which is “blending” disregard for traditional values of peoples of other climes, such that Africana peoples are hardly able to maintain any semblance of deliberate insistence on norms of proper behaviour as identity markers of their societies. On the other hand, there is the phenomenon of the nouveaux riches over-dressing even for the simplest of occasions, if only to flaunt the newly found (mostly stolen) wealth. But more serious is the embrace of fads which facilitate the tolerance of deviance as the new markers of socio-economic success!

 

Culture

But it may be asked: What is “culture”? For our puipose, I intend to understand “culture” in an elastic way, to involve what can be seen as those evolved aspects of non-biological inheritance of ways of life of members of society. In this regard, it covers the beliefs, customs, skills and other such artificially contrived efforts of members of society for coping, managing and conditioning their existence, thereby ensuring that they minimize stress, maximize comfort and ensure the continuity of what is regarded as social advancement. So many things come to mind as features of culture here, such as language, religion, the traditions, educational systems, literature and the arts, and more importantly the various accumulations of experiences and creativities which are inherited from previous generations of members of society, even while selectively discarding or acquiring aspects of these inheritance (Bewaji 2013).

So many things come to mind as features of culture here, such as language, religion, the traditions, educational systems, science, technology, communication paradigms, the literatures and the arts, and more importantly the various accumulations of experiences, attitudes, identities, sexual proclivities, marriage traditions and artistic creativities which are inherited from previous generations of members of society, even while selectively discarding aspects of these inheritance that are considered unsustainable or obsolete or acquiring from others new traditions that are considered interesting. For this reason, it is strange that persons would wish to force on others, ways of life that are considered normal or natural only in their own cultures, regardless of how alien such ways are to peoples of target societies—sexual orientations, marriage traditions, political systems, economic systems, etc!

This is part of the reason why older generations often wonder at the impetuosity and recklessness of younger generations. It also explains why there is culture-shock when persons confront unusual, strange, or novel behavioural patterns and ways of life of members of societies other than one’s own upon first interacting with them. For example, I was very shocked when I first got to Jamaica over two decades ago and discovered that a country with a population less than that of the city where I was coming from had a murder rate that was close to 300 persons per annum; w hereas if that was taking place in Ibadan, Nigeria, inhabitants of the city would have thought that something unusual was happening and every effort—both secular and spiritual would have been made to get to the root of the matter. But even more shocking is the fact that no one in any position of authority seriously considers this as something to worry about; :n fact, violence and destruction seem to be an instrument for attaining and retaining economic and political power on the part of the leadership of the country!

One could observe that we did mention language in the early part of our attempt to understand the notion of culture, which is to show how significant language is as a vehicle for culture and to facilitate the sustenance, propagation and advancement of culture. It also shows how the destruction of the linguistic tradition of a group constitutes more or less a process of direct destruction of the group itself, as the linguistic skirmishes between the British and the French does not fail to show, while the efforts made by Hungary to maintain its language in the face of occupations in Central Europe show an acknowledgement of how important language is to the continued survival of the traditions and culture of any society.

One of the great disasters that befell peoples of African descent has been the consignation of the linguistic heritages of Africans to the rubbish heap of vernacular, thereby creating social and ethical pathologies in the people who use foreign (European colonial) languages whose roots and branches are seldom understood, talk less of the symbolisms, myths and metaphors enshrined in the linguistic traditions. In this regard, it is not strange that young persons of Africana background use words from European languages to communicate ideas they poorly understand, thereby leading to all kinds of confusions about what proper reactions, choices and goal determinations ought to be. Even more curious is the affectation of the declensions and jargons of peoples from other climes, as happens in Reggae artists and dance hall DJs from other societies who do not understand Jamaican Creole but who extravagantly use them in their music—in an attempt to be as authentically Jamaican as possible!

From the above, it would be obvious that the existence, survival or demise of any culture, just like that of any language, that is, the vehicle for its propagation is never an absolute given that society and culture can evolve, undergo changes, suffer loss, become victim of decadence, attrition and even extinction. What accounts for the origin of culture is not very easy to determine, but it is obvious that just as culture identities evolve over time, so also over time mutations may take place to the extent that a culture may cease to be recognizable and separate—identity loss.

In any case, since it is very difficult to account for the origin of various aspects of culture, what one can suggest is that culture emerges where, over time, ways of life become solidified and concretized into noticeable separate traditions. These traditions gain proper accretions in the institutions which are constructed around them, thereby giving continuity to the protective attitudes which members of such cultures have toward them, as well as the energies they are willing to expend in selling the culture to other societies as the proper way to organize life and existence. This is clearly borne out by the so-called efforts of the West to enforce the warped system of partisan, divisive, individualistic, exclusionary, strife glorifying and destructive “democratic” traditions that it has evolved, and the vehicular tracks of capitalism that privileges greed over humanism and empathy, as the only culturally neutral modes of human civilization that guarantees happiness and human progress.

It is obvious that the experiences of the people often affect the evolution of their culture; such experiences as climate affecting modes of dressing, as in the case of the Arabian Desert peoples and head-wrap and long robes, or peoples of the temperate zones of the world and heavy clothing to keep warm, often constitute markers of cultures which later have their origins and reasons forgotten. At the risk of sounding rather simplistic, it is clear that what colonization did to many Africans was to show them that their traditional dress codes and cloth industry, their political institutions, their family traditions, filial relations, forms of life, phenomenologies of being, their modes of agriculture, their educational practices, etc., were inferior to those of their European colonizers and Arabian aggressors. Hence, in many parts of tropical Africa, you find the adoption of the European and Arabian modes of dressing, even with the sweltering heat and humidity posing discomfort, to the extent that many tropical countries recognize what is called formal wear to work as the jacket and tie or babanriga. In Nigeria, this proves especially disastrous for many where the epileptic electricity supply means that wearing jacket and tie entails consigning oneself to what Fela Anikulapo Kuti calls “shuffering and shmilling”, as well as the destruction of the indigenous clothing industry with attendant loss of employment and knowledge base. This is the effect of the complete brainwash that colonization had carried out against the “educated” segment of many African societies, where they now think that it is backward, primitive, and improper to wear traditional casual and formal locally made and ecologically adapted and friendly dresses to the office or to formal and non-formal functions; instead preferring to wear three piece suits in the tropical climate, and sweat under the collar while attempting to mask this with all kinds of chemicals whose lasting effects on the body are not properly understood. For those of us who refuse to join the madness, it is clearly a matter of urgency that we emancipate ourselves from the mental slavery, pace Bob Marley, which pervades our cultural landscape.

Each society, over time, develops what may be seen as values regarding morality, as they evolve rules of conduct, beliefs about right and wrong, principles which endow the sanctions and approbations made, as well as the appreciation of moral paradoxes, dilemmas and developing solutions to troubling moral problems. That there are no universal moral norms, regardless of what UN Declarations portend, remain one of the most critical elements of the diversity of values in the world. What this suggests is that impositions of values and norms of behaviour or modes of existence from any direction may (will) meet with resentment.

The encroachment of colonization was total in its assault on African cultures, as it negated the value systems of the societies it confronted for domination, exploitation, expropriation and subjugation. This is evident in the traditions of respect for elders, such as not offering a hand to shake that of an older person, or even in the non-valorization of violence qua violence and casual sex (Hollywood), the foods that we eat, in the filial relations bearing impact on conjugal affairs, or in the naming of infants. In virtually all areas of human existence we see the deliberate examples of the assault of Western and Arabian imperialism on indigenous African- cultures. Some groups outside of Africa, like the Hungarian example, Jews, French, British, Australians, Japanese, Chinese and Indians are among the societies that take deliberate steps to protect their cultures, even while disrespecting, diminishing or destroying the cultures of other peoples around the world—especially the values of the indigenous societies they have decimated. It is for this reason that the worst part of colonization under the deliberate aegis of epistemicide is cultural colonization; this is not only harmful for the societies that were colonized, it was/is extremely dangerous for the survival of the diversity of human societies where the knowledge systems that underwrite the cultures become lost forever, if they are not protected Doxologia Culturophobia Epistemicide is the deliberate, total and effective destruction, wiping out and annihilation of the intellectual heritage of Africans and the knowledge systems generated by Africans over many millennia, such that contemporary Africa seems denuded of any valuable indigenous intellectual ancestry (Bewaji 2009). This factor alone has many consequences for Africana capacity for creativity, agency and responsibility. Peoples of each society must own the knowledge systems which underwrite their survival or they ever remain mendicants.

In the rest of this chapter, I examine one of the most dangerous offspring of epistemicide. But to appreciate this discussion in some detail, we would rehash the educational system and practice that breeds epistemicide, and which effectively creates the phenomenon which I here describe as doxologia culturophobia. The new frontiers for total cultural imperialism is this area, where the West and Arabia continue to hold fast to the most backward elements of their traditions as part of a heritage worthy of keeping, defending and cherishing, while describing negatively whatever elements of human culture abound in other climes and making all efforts to compel humanity in other climes to bow to their culturally determined values.

The evolution of human appreciation of the nature of existence leads members of society, in different epochs, and in different cultures, to defining themselves in terms of the inviolability of life itself, the privileging of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is notwithstanding the fact that existentialist thought has stressed the importance of the inner self as an experiencing self, as a passionate individual in taking action and in deciding questions of both ‘morality and truth’. Personal experience, understanding, apprehension, projection, retrojection and acting on one’s convictions are essential in arriving at ‘truth’, and in the situation of existence, this cannot be properly undertaken unless as someone involved in that situation, because self-involvement is superior to that of a detached, objective observer. Because of the emphasis on personal involvement as a condition of being alive and as the precursor to the nature of being in the world, it would seem that with the personal coefficient in experiencing, all a priori theorization on realities become precipitously endangered as a universalist understanding of human nature. Even more important is the fact that the individual as a subject is a cultural subject, a product of a society, a community—even if dysfunctional one in res cogitans.

Subjectivism means, on the one hand, the freedom of the individual subject as someone experiencing realities and, on the other, that human beings cannot pass beyond culturally determined human subjectivity in relations they forge with other human beings and with the universe at large: it is the ability of the self to locate the absolute ‘truth’ within the ontology of the self’s being within the context of one’s world. To simply say that a person chooses him/herself, we do mean that every one of us must choose him/herself; but by that we also mean (with significant emphasis on the word “mean” here) that in choosing for him/herself he chooses, against that overarching context of local culture, for all humans in all (dis)similar circumstances of existence within the constraints of the cultures which enable him/her to make sense of reality and the values endowed by such cultures.

One of the important tropes of existentialism is individual freedom, an absence of a restraining external force on both thought and action of the individual. This freedom has been theorized in various ways in Western scholarship, especially within phenomenology, existentialism, libertarian political, economic and legal backgrounds. Freedom, especially freedom to think whatever one likes, is innate to human beings because of how they are wired as conscious beings with brains which endow their capacity to experience, think and choose. Humans are animals that cannot but be free, and in being free come face to face with the consequences of freedom, the consequences of being endowed with an ability that is both special and loaded with awesome responsibility, which are determined by self as well as by others in the form of those things which are regarded as right or wrong in the traditions in which humans find themselves. This is the condition of existence of the human person as an agent in the universe.

Not taking in hand the freedom that comes with being human is bad faith (Lewis R. Gordon 1995, 1997). Bad faith is also attempting to escape from freedom, choice and responsibility. Existentialists have shown that the condition of being human imposes choices on us, even in instances where we suppose we may have none. One may find reason to question the methodological foundations of existentialism, but the validity of necessity for choice and decision making is not in contest; this is not attenuated by the cultural trappings which circumscribe our choices in any way. We have, as persons—leaders and followers—the freedom to choose, we have determinate capacity to affect our collective destiny. Recognition of this capacity is good faith, denial of it is bad faith; forcing on peoples and societies the neglect and disowning of all the traditions that endow and imbue them with meaning is compelling them to commit cultural suicide. Even in an interdependent world, that so-called global economy, there are acts of freedom that are inalienable, and denying responsibility or anchoring one’s fortunes on the whims of external agencies is bad faith. What is being suggested here is that there are simple acts of self- sufficiency that attracts respect and approbation—such acts are in the form of honesty, only accepting justly earned reward, and refraining from benefiting others on the grounds of vested interests. These are not too much as expectations of the people who have reposed trust in the leadership, which is both individual and collective, as the determination of right and wrong is both personal and social. Not doing this is a denial of self-agency and freedom, and it is bad faith—be it in the individual or in the collective.

Since we cannot meaningfully abandon choice, the choosing not to choose constitutes lying to oneself about one’s condition (and one’s national, racial, cultural, economic, social predicament), about one’s and one’s fellow compatriot’s reality, about one’s and compatriot’s being-ness. It is indicating that we are making progress when indeed we are quite clear that the benchmarks of progress have been statistically lowered to accommodate disingenuous interpretations of data. It is not facing up to one’s and compatriot’s ontology, as a thing from the Western consciousness, rather than as a self, as an identity, or even as a self to the self, and as one of selves. It is not recognizing that in spite of celebrated individualism embraced by members of Western societies, there is no expropriating individuation to the point of mutual extinction, for in all critical instances, the reverberating dictum remains: I am, because we are (title of an anthology edited by Fred Hord and Jonathan Scott Lee 1995). It is the unholy acceptance of the dictum, “Rome was not built in a day”, a call to complacency, an abdication of responsibility to build, rather than the current situation of continually pulling apart and destroying what others have laboured to build. It is for this reason that resistance to external compulsion with regard to changes to cultural traditions often become violent when overtly enforced, and benignly resistant and manifesting in vestiges of sabotage when covert.

But, in a significant way, what this has meant for Africana peoples around the world, where the matters of human sexual freedom has been concerned, the interpretation of Euro-American definitions of “sex”, as being no more or less than the sharing of erotic pleasures between consenting adults, as the only way of defining sex, significantly interferes with the cultural traditions of these Africana human beings. Accepting this through various arm-twisting tactics of new imperialism or global force of the threat of violence, or being forced by intellectual indolence of Africana peoples to accept this definition is what I call bad faith here. It is bad faith in that it fails to see that what the West has done (is doing), relative to other humans in other geopolitical and geoeconomic parts of planet earth is imposing a culturally defined (determined) notion of sexuality on the rest of humanity. This imposition is enforced with the agencies of conspiratorial and incestuously partisan multilateral institutions rendered impotent by dependence on Western metaphysics and epistemology into acquiescence on the one hand, and on the other hand, more seriously, through the complicity of a leadership so enamoured with the lucre of unearned, unmerited and undeserved wealth, who have become beholden to external validation to the point where they are left with no choice but to sell their own peoples into servitude worse than the enslavement on the plantations of the “new” world in the modern period.

In this regard, the first thing we need to ask is, What is the presupposition of the Western sexual baggage that is reified into universal ideology of acceptable or natural, rational and proper mode of human sexuality? When stripped of the deception it is built upon (the equation of pleasure with happiness, pursuit of pleasure as an end itself, hedonism and depravity masquerading as civilization), we would notice that Western notions of human sexuality is not supported by reason or science, but that it is predicated on exigencies of degraded domestication of sensual pleasure as a natural phenomenon which humans must procure unhindered and at all costs.

The issue at stake here is that the Western societies have successfully defined, and are forcing on the rest of humanity the definition of, what should be accounted natural sexual engagement as those experiences which offer adults pleasures derivable from the titillation of the erogenous and none-erogenous organs of the human body with the sole purpose of pleasure. Figured prominently here is the notion that such pleasures are products of how (or ends to which) human (matured) anatomies are configured, adapted, and capable of being utilized, within the confines of certain constrictive environments of conscience, consent and culturally sanctioned validity. Allied to this is the belief that any activity which will lead to the production of pleasures which lead to the release of sex-like energies, and which culminate in male phallic ejaculations and female vaginal orgasmic contortions between consenting adults are normal, natural, moral and physiologically pleasurable.

Once formulated in this way, then all practices akin to sexual engagement, which lead to such-like pleasures, are erroneously regarded as normal, natural and desirable sexual engagements. They use the ambiguity of sexual pleasure formulated as such, when unchallenged, as the complete and morally valid way of construing sex, thereby compelling all and sundry to embrace as universally valid the conception of sex formulated and concretized in indulgent hedonistic traditions, even when clearly the end result does not accord with natural or normal sexual perceptions of others in Western and non-Westem societies. In the process, the rights of different peoples from different cultural backgrounds to conceive of other different and totally culture-bound notions of sexual engagement is vilified as inhuman, unnatural and uncivilized. Or, at the mildest, they would claim that the traditional, normal and morally defensible notions of sex are evolutionarily stunted, below modem development and hence its believers in need of education, counselling or other curative help when they are described as homophobes.

Clearly, this way of understanding sexual engagement in purely recreative sense is counter-intuitive, paradoxical and reductionist on many fronts. It uses only one necessary aspect, function or consequence of sex (potential or goal of producing pleasure) to define all that sex entails for peoples globally, and in so doing, it presents peoples from other climes, who may wish to see sex more than just, or not even mainly, concerned with gratification of pleasures, with serious problems. Some of the problems include how to get persons who do not buy into the hedonistic conception of happiness and sex to accept this notion of sex as normal, natural and primary. It also presages a difficulty of saying to anyone why homosexuality and lesbianism are natural while necrophilia, bestiality, pedophilia and self-immolation are not. Even more significant, once peoples of other climes are compelled to accept these Western fangled strange social practices and culturally determined deviant orientations, compelled by negated economic circumstances, then, it is clear that we are embarking on a slippery slope to perdition of the human race. We may concede that it may be desirable that all human beings share similar traits, interests, habits and ideas—eating with chop-sticks as the Japanese does or with fingers as Arabs do—but legislating these practices and enforcing them with threats of withholding of aid, grants and assistance or even invasion to impose “freedom” and “liberty” will constitute a terrible condescension and disrespect of the cultural heritage of humans across the globe.

This last suggestion of global chaos is not unnecessarily alarmist. Let me illustrate. In some parts of Nigeria, wealthy males regarded as upstanding members of society, who have families, that is, with wives and children, accommodate a cultural practice where these men openly have male consorts, sex-servants or sex-slaves, whose main role is providing sexual pleasures for the boss. This does not have anything to do with human nature or with religion, because there is no scientific or religious evidence or tradition which supports this practice. In actual fact, it is evident that the pervasive religion which these persons openly avow denounces such practices as sin, reprehensible and destructive. It is a form of cultural practice where wealth creates power, which also allows for the reification of mental illness, indulgence and degenerative disease as acceptable social tradition among those who can get away with anything That even apparently religious and highly “esteemed” members of society involved in such practices does not provide justification or acceptability of it to the larger society, and if this group of people have the resources, it does not mean that they should seek to impose their aberrant means of attaining sexual pleasure on the rest of humanity.

When society is impotent to bring to book such errant behaviour by mentally challenged but powerful members of society, it seems to become the new norm, and as such it gets integrated into the culture and is passed on as if it were proper; thereby gaining traction and appeal among the poor as statuses to aspire to. A collateral to this has been the raging violence which child-marriage imposes on females in this same society: what this supposes is that with means, wealth, power and success you not only can have same sex sharing of sexual pleasures, but you can hide under the cover of religion to engage in the worst form of inhumanity of human beings to women in the forms of sexual assault, invasion and destruction of female children.

In the age of modernity humans are confronted by serious contradictions which are products of dementia on the part of powerful people, doing what they can get away with, and forcing the rest of humanity to accept the aberrations of their actions and behaviours as the new norm. How does anyone regard anal phallic penetration as sex when the design of the vagina is anatomically facilitative of pleasurable penetration once properly stimulated, regardless of the size of the phallus or the height or weight of the matured female partner and, ultimately tuned to procreation, while the anus’ only purpose is the extrusion (involuntary pushing out) of waste from the body—not the facilitation (accommodation) of coitus or propagation of spermal fertilization? That some people find pleasurable sensation from the invasion of this excretive organ, digging with their penis into fecal matter, does not mean that the “titillation” they receive there from must be deemed sexual. After all, if breastfeeding mother can describe the sensations she receives from the suckling infant as sexual—if this were to be the case, and if two males who find themselves in close proximity rubbing against each other’s body (either as prisoners or because of extreme winter) find ejaculative release from the experience, how does that translate into natural way of attaining the same result with members of the consenting and adoring opposite sex, in a give and take action of attaining sexual fulfillment? Hiding under the cloak of genetic programming of the persons so affected does not make what is happening natural; in fact, part of what culture does for humanity is facilitating the determination, albeit arbitrarily, what is normal, natural or rational.

 

Contemporary Anti-nubism or Nubiphobia

The purpose of law is to equalize, as much as possible, the interactive processes in society, and thereby ensure that members of society are assured that the trust which each individual reposes in the collective arrangement of protection, security and individual pursuit of happiness are not undermined by those who may have the power or the intent to impose their views and preferences on others. If the law does not theoretically provide equal treatment for persons in society, then the process of cooperative facilitation of the interests of members of society would be undermined. It appears that it is assumed that freedom (liberty) and happiness (pleasure) are ends in themselves in postmodern cotemporary scholarship, as they seem to be regarded as ultimate goods for the exhaustive definition of our collective humanity and sanity. This appearance is based on the gratuitously adduced ‘fact’ that, without freedom (unrestrained liberty to pursue happiness and pleasure), the human capacity would be impaired and circumvented, as the process of developing autonomy of personhood and consciousness would be affected negatively. According to Shyllon (1987, 4),

... personal freedom is the freedom of every law abiding citizen to think what he will, to say what he will, and to go where he will ... without let or hindrance from any other persons. The only duties which should restrict this freedom are those which are necessary to enable everyone else to do the same, Whenever the interest of individual liberty and public order are nicely balanced, the scale should go down on the side of freedom I can imagine the reason why Shyllon is of the view expressed in the last portion of the quotation above, tilting the scale in favour of individual, rather than collective, in agreement with the received version of individualism which reifies individual protection over collective survival. It is because of the epistemological and metaphysical anonymity of what constitutes “public order”; for it seems such public order is perceived as threat to individual happiness such that if the public can be removed, the individual will retain unfettered happiness. But I would argue that this kind of guarantee of individual freedom presupposes that the individual is a highly responsible person, who not only appreciates the fact that his/her responsibility is not only to the self, to take advantage of society and publicly provided inventory of resources as much as possible in furtherance of his/her personal happiness, but that there is within him/her a consciousness of the fact that not exercising self-control and respect for norms in the choices made would lead to not only the destruction of the cherished personal liberty in the long run, but also the context within which the personal liberty makes sense—the community, the society and the public. In a way, this has been the main Achilles’ heel of Western culture, much admired for glorifying individual freedom, whereby liberty then becomes license and permission to engage in all forms of antisocial behaviour tending toward anarchy.

In indigenous African societies, especially where there were highly developed urban communities, the instance of individual liberty and freedom is well articulated and guaranteed to ensure that each person is not encumbered in any unnecessary way in developing him/herself within all reasonable limits and hence in contributing to the maximum, to the collective happiness, welfare and advancement of society. That many Africanist scholars have celebrated the aspects of African culture which reify communalist existence in no way compromises the recognition of this fact (Bewaji 2012, 2013). Contrary to advocates of modernity in Africa (Taiwo 2010), such advocacy seems to be incognizant of the view that before the ingress of Western individualistic ethos into African consciousness, individuals in Africa had all the virtues, values and capacities for development which were well balanced for the furtherance of both individual and collective survival of each unit member and component of society—individuals, families, clans, and societies. For this reason, in indigenous societies which are mentioned by those who would rail against the wanton importation of unbridled and destructive individualism to African societies, proper care is taken in individual and group education to ensure that the norms, rules, regulations and laws of the society—cultural norms—are brought to the attention of the individual, nitori ilu ti ko si ofin, ese ko si (in a city where there is no law, there can be no offense).

Punishment and reward are based on laws, norms and beliefs which are unambiguously formulated, reinforced by the welfare of individuals, groups and society and well known. What Shyllon calls the prospective nature of law is what ensures that all members of society are aware of the bounds that must be preserved in intra- and inter-personal relations, in order for the liberties and freedoms which are assured to be protected. What follows from the above is that modernity had existed in Yorubaland before the contract theorists came to appreciate how human happiness can be protected holistically; this means that sophisticated statesmen and women of Africa were light years ahead of European leaders of thought who were mainly motivated by greed, graft, private property and oppression of the poor (even worse in contemporary climate, the glorification of irresponsible adulation of pleasure for pleasure sake), and who devised the theories of governance based on the interpolation of the worst elements in the depraved human, reified as virtue. As Fela Anikulapo Kuti would formulate it, it is impossible for the animal to teach the human being concepts of humanity, because the only thing that could happen when the animal leads the human is for humanity to become like the animal.

While observations from animal and plant behaviour may enrich life, humans should not have to descend to the level of animals in order to work out the best modes of existence that will enrich human happiness, in pursuit of what is naturally pleasurable. In this regard, it would be difficult to see how it is that new comers to civilization—Europeans—can have the last word on whether certain modes of happiness and pursuit of pleasure constitute the only modes naturally attractive and edifying to humanity.

Part of modernity and civilization now is the substitution of pets for the friendship and sharing of space with other human beings, because with modernity instigating the claiming of rights against the other as intrinsically enemies, it imposes the impossible situation on social consciousness whereby each human becomes an unnecessary encumbrance and is seen as the enemy of the other, to be restrained and constrained in order for the self to attain the highest levels of happiness and pleasures for which the self is the sole judge. This then supposes that animals are better companions than siblings, off-springs, parents, relatives—especially when the humans reach a certain age, because each person must covet their space, protect it, and ensure that it is not shared by anything that has the capacity to talk back at one, unless invited and with time-limit for departure Two consequences flow from this. In the first instance, there is now a reduction in the potential for incest between filial adults as is common in English culture, but there is an upswing in bestiality. Secondly, and most alarmingly, we now find the tolerance level for other humans to have reduced, because we find it very difficult to communicate effectively with each other, as the pets though they may suspect what we are saying to them, can not respond, to further aggravate our displeasure. The most worrisome element of the second point is the reclusiveness of modern youth, who may be in the same room and, instead of speaking to each other, are busy texting each other.

But it may be argued that this is the least factor in the problem that should exercise our collective concern for the integrity of human civilization going forward. It is interesting not to see the irony of degraded humanity when you look at what happens to those who walk their dogs and see that it is now a case of the tail wagging the dog. In most instances, instead of the owner walking the dog, it is the dog walking the owner, because whatever the dog likes it does and the owner must go along with them. In such instances, the dogs control the human, and the human has absolutely no control. It is like what happens with modem child rearing, because under the guise of civilization, the kids are brought up on heavy doses of bribery, white-mail and false sense of reality, to the point that they grow up to become addicted to mercenary behaviour, thinking quid pro quo in every instance and expecting always to get something for every little thing they give.

The result is that they find human relationships most difficult to tolerate, and as a consequence are condemned to the perfidy of the solipsistic lonesomeness; simply because what they do not know how to give, natural selfless kindness, they vainly expect to receive. And because they are not ever brought up to understand a world in which it is possible to give without expecting, the reciprocal nature of kindness is lost on them, meaning that old ideas of family, love, and friendship are being redefined to nullity.

 

Filial Bonding, Intimacy, Bosom Buddies, Friendship and Sexuality

Notions of humanity, identity, selves and society in Western culture have become encumbrances terrorizing the rest of humanity to no end. Western control of the means of wanton destruction and warfare has enabled the Western societies to impose their conceptions of culture, society and development on the rest of humanity which means that notions of human existence which are parochial in origin and probably subnormal in orientation are easily foisted on the rest of humanity. The ways in which this has been reinforced through the use of media and communications technologies has been alarming, with surreptitious inveigling of subliminal messages of peripheral beliefs and behaviour on the rest of humanity in innocuous ways with the intention of making mainstream the marginal proclivities of minorities, no matter what the preferences or interests of the majorities may be. And if you dare to question how the rights of minorities must override the interests of the majorities, one is immediately branded as having one health affliction or another—mild or severe phobia or antisomething.

It is interesting to note that alternative lifestyles are not strange tc various societies, as in the case of the Nigerian region mentioned earlier, where it is regarded as a mark of success and power for the men to have male consorts. The problem is that while the predominant religion of the region remains what it is, there is hardly any whimper of protest from the clerics against this practice, which patently contradicts the tenets of the religion that predominates in the region. However, while this way of life is understood and tolerated in the region, there is no effort on the part of those who practise this sexual orientation to mainstream their patently aberrant behaviour, because that would mean that they now openly declare their antagonism to the tenets of the wider cultural traditions of the society and the religion which they embrace openly, courting instant perdition.

As indicated here, the position canvassed in this essay does not valorize African culture unnecessarily. We are not unmindful of homosexuality in Africa, as there are communities in Africa where wealth creates license and those males who have become rich take on young male consorts who pander to their deranged sexual perversions. Even while being mindful of this, we note also that there are cultures where fecal matter is part of sexual intercourse. And there are other practices across the world which speaks to the diversity of human capacity for stretching the frontiers of normality. The questions we raise is: Should those who practise eating fecal matter in the process of sex be able to enforce it on the rest of humanity? Should those who enjoy pain as part of their sexual experience be able to enforce same on the rest of humanity? Should human beings from some culture who eat dogs be able to enforce gorging on dogs on their fellow citizens? If I wish to insist that I do not like to dig for fecal matter with my phallus, what makes me medically challenged in that, such that a new word has to be coined to apply to me—homophobe?

When properly analyzed, it would seem clear that the intimidation and harassment that the rest of humanity suffers from the centers of worldly power is a function of the poverty of subaltern societies. Japan insists on hunting for whales, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks about such practice, but no one has ever sanctioned or embargoed Japan for such pursuits. Yet where Africa is concerned, when they insist that matters which are not germane to the survival of their populations should not be mixed with their economic survival or even sports relations, they are told that they need to be like the rest of the world; they need to follow the pattern of debauchery that pervade Western consciousness which allows for contradictions to assimilate to civilization and cultural dementia to development.

On another note, it is interesting that filial obligations of love, attention and intimacy between parents and their children are now threatened because segments of society constantly play on the fears of abuse to rob the young ones of the proper love, attention and intimacy which bonds parents and their children. In the interim, those same segments which constantly exaggerate the dangers of closeness between blood relations continue to encourage other forms of molestation and destruction of trust, by reifying the fantasies of the subconscious to the absolute markers of normality and rationality. What this does is to say that, as human beings, we should not have limits, controls or boundaries on sexuality and the expression of such.

It may be argued that there is nothing like “humanity as we know it”! Such advocacy on the side of semantics would reify the evolution of social, cultural and psychological norms as evidence that the development of human consciousness is eventually toward uniform alternative sexual preferences. This would encourage that we hasten the process, change all the concepts and notions which deal with filial relations such as husband and wife, family, marriage, and sex to accommodate the orientations which have always been with humanity from eternity but which has not until now declared its intention to topple and submerge natural relations between males and females in loving, reproductive and intimate relationships.

In light of this, it seems that any form of suggestion that while the persons who embrace this alternative lifestyle, who want people to respect their difference, should in similar vein reciprocate by recognizing the rights of those who choose not to embrace their way of seeking pleasure. What would have been more intellectually sound would have been for these persons to leave the symbolisms, semantics and concepts of those whom they think are trying so hard to oppress them, and device their own alternative linguistic and semantic idioms for the representation of their lifestyles. Why would they want to call contracts between same sex marriage, thereby changing the meaning of tradition, the concept and the ideas evoked? Even more critical is the issue: Why would the group want others to respect their alternative lifestyle when they are unwilling to respect the lifestyle of the majority?

There is no doubt that in many societies of the South there is no problem with two or more males sharing a bed for the night. In fact, this is normal in many congested inner city urban areas. And the same obtains among women who necessarily have to be in very personal contact in the process of beautification of themselves, as a way of taking care of their bodies. In such contacts, there is no suggestion of sexual intimacy, nor is there any form of pleasures exchanged. This is the reason why a breast feeding mother cannot be considered as having a sexual relation with her baby, and a father whose son is scrubbing his back in the stream on the way back from farm cannot be accused of taking advantage of the son in a sexual way. One could replicate instances like this, without allowing oneself for once to misplace intimacy.

As it were, what we are saying is that the timidity of the rest of humanity in the face of the assault from vested, powerful and irredentist interests to force the rest of humanity to bow to the proclivities of minorities is in no way tantamount to advancement of human interests, happiness or development. The fact that most societies of the South, through the machinations of Western capitalist traditions of slavery and colonialism, have allowed themselves to remain mendicants who must obey whatever dictates emanate from the Western power centers, constitute the big issue here. There are pockets of cultures that remain untouchable even in Western cities, because to do anything to question such practices would draw the ire of powerful interests; whereas when it comes to beliefs and practices which are embraced by peoples of colour, then problems arise: they must be changed or there will be no additional support for various projects which assist the weak, poor and vulnerable in these societies. This is a persistent, brazen and reprehensible whitemailing system that has been sustained by the irresponsible leadership of societies of the South which collude with external forces to degrade the identities and cultures of peoples in their own societies.

 

Conclusion

Our discussion above has indicated that there is the danger that the following conclusion by Abraham Madu may turn out to be true:

The fact (is) that when Europeans settled in (or visited) various parts of the world, including New Zealand, Ausralia, and North America, they typically saw the cultures of those already living there as being inferior.

They often discouraged the native people from practicing their religions, celebrating festivals, or speaking their language. Even though they did not settle in Nigeria per se, these same methods were applied to their culture too. While attitudes like these are changing to a more sophisticated method in recent times, the actions of the Europeans either by colonialism, missionaries’ activities and slavery greatly damaged these cultures beyond repair.1Our analysis has indicated this, but the repair process, which must begin in earnest, even while a daunting process, must not be ignored. We would/should consider this an obligation. Societies should see positive ideas and voluntarily copy or adapt. Societies should not be forced to embrace ideas, practices, belief systems, values and policies which are not only unreasonable but retrogressive, if not utterly pernicious. How to stand up to be counted when most African societies have embraced the fallacy of superiority of everything Euro-American is the challenge which I have highlighted in this discussion. For those of us who still cling to some faith in intrinsic human capacity for appreciation of values, by comparison with the many who have suffered from the destructive agency of epistemicide, we must urge that we do not give up the fight, no matter what names we may be called and how we may be pressurized into accepting patently immoral, unnatural and irrational modes of finding pleasure, happiness or being civilized. 

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