- Published on Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:09
- Written by Joshua D.B. Giddings
“A homosexual”, as defined by Albert Ellis, an expert Psychologist, in his book, The Art and Science of Love (1960), “is one who… exclusively lusts after members of his own sex and has little or no desire for members of the other sex”(p.258). He further described the homosexual act itself a deviant behavior that can be cured psychologically since it is not in-born but acquired or learned at an early age (pp.269-271).
The concept of male and female sexual union for the purpose of preserving the human species is the natural order of life. Both science and religion agree on this concept, as well as many cultures, including the Liberian culture. The concept of male and male or female and female sexual union (homosexuality) contradicts the natural order of life since it spells the end for the human race. Although it is argued that homosexuality has existed since the beginning of civilization (http://www.africanholocaust.net/homosexuality.html), the concept is alien to the Liberian culture for the following reasons: the dominance of “Poro” and “Sande” Culture, the origin of homosexuality, and the rejection of homosexuality in Liberia.
The Dominance of “Poro” and “Sande” in Liberia
First of all, there is no evidence currently to suggest that the practice of homosexuality is a cultural norm in Liberia among the 16 or so tribes or ethnic groups of Liberia. The majority of Liberians are rural dwellers who are members of the “Poro” and “Sande” societies which emphasize the male and female sexual union for the purpose of producing out-springs, who would look after the older generation during their old age. Young boys are taught male roles and girls, female roles so that when they grow up they will not depart from such roles. Even those ethnic groups that do not practice “Poro” and “Sande” also have similar societies that emphasize male and female sexual union which lead to procreation. Gabriel Umoden, in his article, “Brief History of Liberia”, in The Liberian Crisis and ECOMOG: a Bold Attempt at Regional Peace Keeping (1992) admits that over a third of the population of Liberia's 17 main ethnic groups falls into two: the Kpelleh and the Bassa which are the largest. These are followed by the Gio (Dan) Kru, Grebo, Mano, Lorma, Krahn, Gola, Kissi, Vai and Gbandi (18).
This author, now over half a century old, remembers vividly that when he was growing up in his native village of Sanoyea, Bong County, Liberia, he never once came across a homosexual in his life. He and other little boys bathed together in nearby creeks, spent a little time in the “Poro” bush school, as some people call it, but never even heard or saw the act of homosexuality there. Whenever he and other little boys and girls played moonlight games, it was always boys seeking out girls as their partners and vice versa, especially during hide-and-seek games. Eventually, through the reading of western books, magazines, and novels, this obnoxious subject came to be known to the author and other youths.
As the majority of Liberians are rural dwellers, many sexual practices of the western world, such as deep kissing, oral sex, sex orgies (sex between more than two individuals at the same time), and homosexuality are taboo subjects to the typical Liberian. To this day even some educated Liberians find such practices extremely disgusting, and most Liberian parents find it difficult to even discuss the issue of sex with their children because it is just not part of the culture.
Anthropologists like Peoples and Bailey, in their book, Humanity: Introduction to Anthropology (1997), use the word, “culture”, to emphasize the unique or most distinctive aspects of a people's customs and beliefs acquired from past generations. This is the reason the Chinese think and act differently in some ways from the French, American and Japanese think and act; similarly the Africans, including Liberians.
Because homosexuality is alien to the Liberian culture, a near riot broke out at the University of Liberia (UL) campus in early 2012, when one student advocate of homosexuality openly expressed his support for the legalization of homosexuality and gay marriage in Liberia. He was attacked by angry students who opposed his views and had to be whisked off by police for his own safety.
Origin of Homosexuality
Like western democracy which originated from the ancient Greeks and spread to the rest of the world, including Liberia – [John Gay (2007) mentions Liberia as a classic example of western imposition of democracy when legal experts of scholars from Harvard University wrote a constitution patterned after the American constitution for Liberia] – homosexuality also originated from ancient Greece and spread to Europe, Asia and Africa through Greek conquests. Alexander the Great is said to have conquered and occupied Egypt and drove out the Persians in 332 BC (http://www.africanhistory.net/africantimeline.htm). He also conquered Rome, the center of Europe at the time, carrying with him the Greek way of life and Rome in turn developed into a mighty empire, at the end of the first century BC, under Augustus Caesar and those after him, expanding from Arabia to Britannia (en.wikipedia.org/Wiki/History _of_ Europe).
Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, admitted that the Cretans (Greeks) encouraged homosexuality as a means of population control on the island community. Plato, another notable Greek philosopher, commented: “Homosexuality is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them, because it is… not in the best interest of such rulers to have great ideas engendered in their subjects, or powerful friendship or passionate love….” Even Alexander the Great, the conqueror, was an ardent homosexuality as reported (“Homosexuality and the Ancient Greeks”, Wikipedia, as assessed, December 2012).
Homosexuality among ancient Greeks was not just a past time or preference, but an institutionalized “cultural ideal”. The two common forms practiced by them were “Pederasty” (the most common) in which a temporary sexual relationship existed between a young boy and a adult male until the boy grew up to become an adult. The older man was responsible for the boy in every way and the boy in return provided the older man love and loyalty. The other form grew out of the “Symposium” during which aristocrats gave speeches, lay back on low tables and were served wine and food by male and female slaves, who would later be sexually violated by these aristocrats. These drinking parties often ended in drunken street riots (Boardman et al. 1986).
The cultures of conquerors are often viewed by the victims as superior to theirs. Donald J. Grout a prominent Music Historian points out in his book, A History of Western Music (1980), “…all through the Middle Ages and even to the present time men have continually turned to Greece and Rome for instruction, for correction, and for inspiration in their several fields of work (p. 2). Europe in turn also conquered Africa, enslaved some of its inhabitants and colonized some territories between 1441 to 1860 and 1885 to 1900, claiming to Christianize and to civilize Africans with their own culture (http://www.africanhistory/net/africantimeline.htm). It is no wonder that Western nations, such as the United States, and the United Kingdom are insisting on gay rights adoption by African nations, including Liberia, while at the same time condemning African practices such as polygamy, dowry payment for women, etc. They even threatened to cut off aids from African nations which will not bow down to their whims.
In-born Versus Acquired Tendency
There are those in the West who believe that homosexuality is an in-born tendency and those who believe that it is learned. The former believe that homosexuals are born and not conditioned, while the latter believe that it is not caused by genetic factors. Ellis argued, “My own clinical and scientific studies of sex deviants over the last twenty years have convinced me that … homosexuality is not an in-born … it is psychologically acquired or learned” (1960, pp.269-271). When the disease HIV/AIDS was first discovered in the United States in 1981 or so, it was found largely among homosexual men; it was not until later that it was found to also affect other kinds of victims through other means. In fact, then, the disease was called by various names, including Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) (http://www.avert.org/aids.history-86.htm).
Liberia is not the only country in the world that has problem with accepting homosexuality. In fact out of the over 150 countries of the United Nations preaching gay rights, only eleven countries – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa (the only African country so far) Spain and Sweden – have approved same-sex marriage with France set soon to be the 12th country. About 200,000 French Catholics reportedly marched in November 2012 in various French cities against the passage of such a bill even though most believed that their government was bent on approving the bill (The Inquirer, 23 November 2012).
Because of the alien nature of homosexuality in the Liberian culture, the House of Senate unanimously passed a bill against same-sex marriage in July 2012 with a penalty of second degree felony while the House of Representatives were considering the passage of an anti-homosexual bill before it (Daily Observer, 20 July 2012). According to Aarti Divani, in her article, “Is Homosexuality Un-African?”, some other African countries that frown on homosexuality include Zimbabwe whose President, Robert Mugabe, condemned the act as a “sub-animal behavior,” while a Ugandan Member of Parliament (MP) introduced a bill calling for the death penalty; this was later watered down after much western criticisms. Even in South Africa, the only African country to have approved gay- marriage, homosexuals are still pursued for attacks by some citizens (12 October 2011). According to a self-confessed Nigerian homosexual, Rev. Rowland J. Macaulay, in his article “Africa and Homosexuality”, “Gay culture is a taboo in African… if it were possible to determine homosexuality at birth, many African parents would repudiate their homosexual children before they have the chance to live for it is commonly said, it is better to have corpse of my child, than for one to accept that my child is gay” (http://www.thewitness.org/agw/macauley121604.html).
Most Africans (including Liberians) consider homosexuals outcasts who bring nothing but disgrace to family name and cultural values. In his article, published in The Encyclopedia of African Religion, “Homosexuality and Africans: Pan-African Position on Gay Right”, Molefi Kete Asante observes, “The overall African philosophy is that life and the reproduction of life sit at the core of human society; men and women have children who ritualize their parents and ancestors. In the process of building community, African culture has no place, no category and no concept that accommodate homosexuality as a way of life because it does not fit with the view that humans should reproduce in order to be remembered for eternity.” He further emphasizes that no homosexual is born from a homosexual relationship since it cannot sustain life (http://www.africanholocaust.net/homosexual.html).
To conclude, homosexuality is un-Liberian; the concept is a taboo and an abhorred subject to majority Liberians who are largely rural dwellers with specific traditional cultural values, especially in the “Poro” and “Sande” societies, which emphasize male-female sexual union that leads to preservation of their own lines. The tendency of homosexuality, which can be acquired from an environment teeming with such an activity, is a borrowed one from Western civilization extending as far back as to the ancient Greeks who saw it not only as an alternative source of sexual gratification, but also as a means of population control. Through their conquests of other parts of the world during early centuries, they spread their way of like to North Africa, Arabia, Iran, India and Europe. Europe in turn developed empires across the rest of the world, including Africa, colonizing, subjugating, and enslaving some Africans, thus bringing about the western way of life to Africa, including Liberia and the rest of the world.
Although it is true that cultures do borrow from one another, especially in this modern age, it is ideal to borrow only those cultural practices that would enhance the betterment and preservation of one's own cultural values, not those that destroy them. The promotion of homosexuality in Liberia will not only help the spread of HIV/AIDS among Liberia's small population of 3.5 million, but also lead to its own extinction as a nation. The imposition of Western cultural values, especially the issues of homosexuality or same-sex marriage on Liberia and other African nations by the Western insistence that either they accept this or be deprived of needed aids, can be seen as, not only another form of cultural imperialism, but also as another form of imposed population control measure upon these countries. Liberians must remain resolute not to accept this alien cultural value since it is opposed to procreation or the sustainability of life.