Nontando Hadebe (Southern Africa) is Senior Lecturer at St Augustine College in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is chairperson of the Southern African Circle for Concerned African Women Theologians, a board member of Catholic Women Preach, and a radio presenter at Radio Veritas, a Catholic Radio station in South Africa.
Extract from Nontando Hadebe, “Whose Life Matters? Violence Against Lesbians and the Politics of Life in the Church” in Visions and Vocations)
[T]he integration of values of solidarity and justice in inculturation is necessary to counter the claim that LGBTI is un-African, which is used to justify criminalization and vilification. The fundamental beliefs of African traditional religions affirm the dignity of all persons and the value of life. Studies by African scholars have revealed the presence of sexual diversity in pre-colonial Africa, suggested by words and phrases that referred to same sex orientation. more
For example, Shoko notes that among the Karanga – as is the case in other African languages – are an ‘abundance of Karanga words and phrases that refer to “homosexuality or variation of same-sex patterns.” Some examples of these words include: “ngochani” which refers to “people of same sex orientation,” “munhurume-kadzi” (man-woman) refers to “a male who lives as female gendered person,” and “munhukadzi-rume” (woman-man) refers to “a woman who lives the life of a male gendered person.” African languages thus provided insights into the diversity of sexualities in pre-colonial Africa, challenging the myth that sexual diversity is ‘un-African.’ Religious leaders therefore cannot justify their support for the criminalization and exclusion of African LGBTI persons on the grounds of culture. The value of life in both Christianity and African culture should be the basis for countering all forms of violence against any section of the community.
Watch Nontando speaking at the Catholic Women Speak Symposium at the Pontifical University Antonianum on 1st October, 2015.