In Nigeria and Africa in general, homosexuality and lesbianism of all shades are considered criminal. In fact, in about 30 of the 54 African nations there are, being gay is regarded as a crime punishable by law. Although 11 of these countries in this continent have not taken any constitutional act against this orientation, anyone practising it is usually met with high resistance.
The one reason why homosexuality has not been tolerated in Africa is due to the strong belief that homosexuality is a foreign concept that is thoroughly 'un-African.' However, despite this narrative, it has been argued by scholars that gay folks existed in Africa even before the term became a catch.
Now, homosexuality was not only popular amongst commons alone, it was also practised openly among some monarchs in the African society. One of them was the prestigious king of Buganda, a place situated within modern day Uganda.
Mwanga was the 31st and last monarch of Buganda. He was popularly known as Kabaka, a native translation of king, from 1884 until 1888 as well as from 1889 until 1897 before British rule.
It was said that the king had a tense relationship with British colonials, especially Christian missionaries because he saw them as a threat to his rule. But even more, he felt that they were out to change his beliefs and values.
To tackle his insecurities, Mwanga II often banished missionaries and insisted that Christian converts abandon their faith or face death. A year after becoming king at the age of 16, it was discovered that the monarch killed a number of his own men in his own harem.
The reason for this was not known at first. But later, it was said that he did this to them because they refused his advances. While some argued that Mwanga adopted this behavior from Arabs who were prominent in Buganda at the time, others said he became gay of his own accord.
Going forward, it was gathered that 45 men were killed because they staunchly stood against sleeping with the king.
It was said that the men refused because of their acclaimed new faith. It was claimed he killed the males by torturing them with fire. Two of the Uganda Martyrs, as they are called, were Christians who strongly resisted Mwanga's gay convictions.
His open gay practices did not prevent him from marrying women. He actually had 16 wives and several children. Mwanga's homosexual nature and errant killings attracted consequences from Britain. In 1888, the British folks supported a rebellion by Christian and Muslim groups who backed up Mwanga’s half-brother.
In the conflict that followed, Mwanga lost and escape. But then, he returned and negotiated with the British, and then, he decided to hand over some of his sovereignty to the British East Africa Company.
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In 1894, Mwanga agreed to make Buganda a British Protectorate. But in 1897, he changed his mind and declared war on the British, launching an attack in which he was defeated. This caused him to escape to German East Africa which is now modern-day Tanzania. But then, he was later arrested.
Afterwards, he was received into the Anglican Church even while in exile and was baptized with the name Danieri (Daniel). The monarch died at the age of 35 and his remains were repatriated and buried at Kasubi in 1910.
Recently, Legit.ng shared the history of Sharo, a ritual practised by the Fulanis in which a boy going on to be a man is flogged repeatedly just so he can get past the rite of passage.
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