Emma Emeozor [email protected], @Emekaili
Zambia last week took the bull by the horns when Lusaka responded with fury to the outburst of the American ambassador to the country, Daniel Foote over the jailing of a gay couple.
In a show of recklessness, Foote had poured vituperations on Zambian officials because the authorities had failed to stop the prosecution and the consequent sentence of a gay couple. Foote was uncouth when he said he was “personally horrified” by the judgement of a Zambian High Court and went further to add: “meanwhile, government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution, political cadres can beat innocent citizens … with no consequences, poachers can kill numerous elephants… and face a maximum of only five years.”
Though Washington has recalled Foote following Lusaka’s protest, the ambassador’s failed move to ram push Zambian government into abusing court processes just because the judgement was not in tandem with the position of theWashington on homosexuality, has again brought to fore the question of lack of respect for the sovereignty of African countries by the West.
How else can it be explained the impudence of Western ambassadors of the like of Foote posted to African countries. In the diplomatic relations, there is hierarchy and code of conduct to be observed by all, including presidents of countries.
When President Donald Trump allegedly called African countries ‘shithole,’ Washington downplayed the matter. And African governments were magnanimous to put the embarrassment behind them, opting not to grind an axe with the American leader.
But the fact remains that the West believes Africa is a continent it should lead around by the nose all the time. The resolve of the West to control Africa may have made its leaders (including their envoys) not to conscientiously accept the reality of the time. And that is African countries have become independent and can no longer be treated as colonial appendages.
Rather, African countries deserve respect like any other independent country. The poverty and underdevelopment in the continent is not an excuse for any world power, no matter how endowed it may be, to undermine the sovereignty of African countries.
The United Nation continues to make slow progress in its plan of action to change the world for the better because of the dominance and control being wielded over it by the ‘anointed Five.’ The United Nations Annual General Assembly (UNGA) is nothing but a forum for rhetoric. Yet it is an Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Undoubtedly, the situation will remain the same except the principle of equality is made sacrosanct.
Foote’s effrontery immediately raises questions as to how and why the West chose to question any African tradition it considers to be at variance with European lifestyle. In recent years, the Western leaders have been putting pressure on African countries to abrogate homophobic laws and policies. The situation reached a disturbing level when European Union and the US started making abrogation of homophobic laws and policies as a condition for giving African countries aid. But truly speaking, is aid given by the West free?
Today, the EU and the US have arm twisted several African governments into abolishing the laws that prohibit homosexuality. Foote got it wrong to have believed he can force Zambia to dance to the dictates of his government.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s response was heroic. He and his aides stood up to the challenge, insisting on protecting African tradition as well as the spiritual teachings bequeathed to Africans by European and American priests who brought Christianity to the continent. The early Christian missionaries told Africans to believe every letter of the Holy Bible.
Today, some Western writers have tried to interpret the letters of the Holy Bible to approve their mundane desires. Sections of the Holy Bible dealing on homosexuality, particularly the Book of Genesis, Chapter 19 have been interpreted differently. These unscrupulous writers want the public to believe that the outcry against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was not explicitly about homosexuality.
How can the attempts by the descendants of the priests and evangelists who converted Africans to upturn the Holy teachings be justified. Now, who should Africans believe – the early Christian missionaries or their perfidious descendants who preach without truly practicing what they teach.
Undoubtedly, the Africans who dumped their religion to embrace Christianity in the 1st and 2nd centuries will be taken aback if they were to rise from their current abode and see the harm Western civilization has done to the new religion they embrcaed.
The Zambian Home Affairs was right when he said Foote had “crossed the line,” Stephen Kampyongo told Zambia’s Hot FM radio: “The dos and don’ts for those who represent nations in other nations are very clear. So if one crosses the line, it’s not about bilateral relations between the two countries.”
Perhaps, the question that needs to be answered is: did the Zambian government abuse the law or was the judge biased in his judgment? A look at the country’s penal code Penal Code provides answers:
“Section 155 criminalises sex between men with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, “Section 156 criminalises any attempt to commit “unnatural offences” prohibited under Section 155 with a maximum penalty of fourteen years imprisonment. Section 158 criminalises acts of “gross indecency” both between men and between women with a maximum penalty of fourteen years imprisonment.”
Another question that may be asked is: did the above code of laws just come into force or they have been in existence before the offence was committed? It is unthinkable that the US through its ambassador would want Zambia to suddenly prohibit the laws that have been in existence over the years.
Homosexuality as a way of life cannot be acceptable to any Africa who understands his root and the age long traditional life style of his ancestors. Western scholars’ description of pre-colonial Africa as primitive is a misnomer. This is because every generation has its own pattern of culture and civilisation and if not protected could be adulterated by others. This is the dilemma of Africa today.
Courageous African leaders and elite must identify with the Zambian president and tell the West to stop teaching Africa nonsense. The message of Lungu was unambiguous and represents the stand of home-bred Africans. In an interview with Sky News, he noted that local laws and culture prohibited homosexuality and that he would not repeal the law.
“If you want to be tying your aid to homosexuality… If that is how you will bring your aid then I am afraid the West can leave us alone in our poverty,” Lungu said.
“We are saying no to homosexuality. Why should we say we are going to be civilised if we allow it… are you saying that we’re very primitive now because we’re frowning on homosexuality? Even animals don’t do it, so why should we be forced to do it… because we want to be seen to be smart, civilised and advanced and so on,” the president stressed.
The issue of homosexuality or gay is another clear example of the hypocrisy of the West. Apparently, this was the message of Joseph Malanji, Zambia’s Foreign Minister when he made reference to former President Barack Obama and Trump’s policies respectively during his reaction to Foote’s ‘megalomaniac’ behaviour. Malanji said: “It is clear to all observers, that by his actions, by his public statements, by his tweets, by his key appointments and policies, President Donald Trump is pushing pro-family policies, and has taken a strong stance against policies that promoted wanton procuring of abortions.”
“It also clear that he wishes to roll-back aggressive pro-LGBTQ policies and federal funding promoted by his predecessor, President Barack Obama. It should be stated that; President Obama hurt us, Obama hurt Africa!” he added.
It is utterly absurd for the US to equate the issue of gays with that of human rights. The State Department spokesperson had reportedly said “The United States firmly opposes abuses against LGBTI persons. Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.”
What the US has refused to acknowledge is the adage which says ‘one man’s meet is another man’s poison.’ The West must stop destroying African tradition. Precisely, it must stop imposing its promiscuous values on the continent.
It is an unfair judgment for the West to conclude that African leaders are violating the human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons just because they want to uphold the judicial process of enthroning sanity in the society. It is hoped that a time will not come when Western leaders and advocates of human rights and fundamental freedoms will urge African leaders to abolish laws that prohibit adultery, fornication and incest because ‘all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ Human rights and fundamental freedoms will be worthless if apocalypse will be the end result.
Today, the Church in Europe and America is in a big mess because of the cases of sexual abuses committed by priests. Washington has not challenged the prosecution of indicted priests. If this was happening in Africa, Washington and its allies would have declared it as a violation of their (the priests) “human rights and fundamental freedoms” or send ‘experts’ to witness court proceedings to determine if there was fair hearing. Poor Africa!
If the West is sincere in helping Africans who are unfortunate to be gays, it should encourage the governments in Africa to set up rehabilitation and counseling centers where they can seek reform. The reason for the stigma gays suffer is obvious but that is not to say everybody hates them. Undeniably, some have successfully undergone social reforms and today, they are happily living a normal life with their families.
Beyond Africa’s anti-gay laws are opportunities for change. While some grew up finding themselves as gays, others were indoctrinated through association with members of the group either in Africa or abroad. The situation has become more disturbing as Africans seeking greener pastures abroad seek visas under the pretext of suffering stigma for being gay even when the claim is a lie. Some in this category of visa seekers who succeeded in getting to Europe fell easy preys in the hands of LGBTI persons. They are regretting their action.