Giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, several African governments and leaders have recently taken on the campaign for African Americans to return to Africa, leading among them is Ghana.
Amidst this overwhelming contentment over the return of descendants of former slaves in Ghana over the years, in what many celebrate as the beginning of the fulfillment of the “repatriation dream” of Marcus Garvey and other founding fathers of the Pan African movement, is perhaps an overlooked cross-cultural conflict to emerge in the future as a result of the returning of these African-Americans into Ghana and other African states.
One of the argumentative subject is the issue of LGBTQIA+ and their activities.
A well-known US LGBTQIA+ activist, Deray McKesson visited Ghana to observe the “Year of Return.” This is an initiative of the government of Ghana that is intended to encourage African Diasporas to come to Africa (specifically Ghana) to settle and invest in the continent.
Deray McKesson stated on his social media platforms that he met with a tiny group of “LGBTQ activists” in Ghana to “learn more about their work and to brainstorm pathways of collaboration”.
He claims that Anti-sodomy laws are widespread in Africa, a case he strongly detests. However, Deray is joyful that LGBTQIA groups are thriving to change culture and laws in Ghana.
In the same post he also revealed that “We [LGBTQ activists] have so much collective work to do and we are always learning. Let’s get to work.”
However, majority of Africans describe same-sex marriage as a “non-issue for Africa,” something that Pan Africans have equally contested as an attempt by the West to impose ‘western values’ to Africans under their acculturation agenda against the Africans. In an interview with Vlad, a popular African-American civil rights activist, Dr. Omar Johnson states, “No African community Ever Legitimized Being Gay.” This notion has been widely discredited by LGBT interest groups and some western media who often argue that the criminalization of same-sex in Africa is a colonial legacy. But many Africans perceive this as another form of reverse psychology tactics to change the mindset of young Pan-Africans.
It remains to be seen how Africa and Ghana, in particular, would in the face of more pressing issues treat the “returnees” with western values that contradict the cultures and values of Africa, and its strong heritage.
Ghana has recently awarded many returnees with Ghanaian citizenship and at the ceremony, the President urged the “new citizens” to abide by the laws of Ghana, live within the tenets of the constitution and as well preserve and promote the image of the country. It is not unusual for countries to urge new citizens to live within the tenets of the constitution and values. In western countries, their laws prohibit the practice of polygamy and one could be denied citizenship based on it.
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Today in Accra, @alphonsodavid and I met with LGBTQ+ activist leaders from @lgbtrightsghana to learn more about their work and to brainstorm pathways of collaboration. ⠀ In was a powerful conversation in which we learned that Prep is not yet available in Ghana, that anti-sodomy laws are still on the books and are used to harass people, and that Grindr has been weaponized to blackmail and extort people. ⠀ And we also learned about all of the joy — the ways technology has enabled people to live our loud, the community that has formed and is thriving, and the plans to change culture and laws that is underway. ⠀ We have so much collective work to do and we are always learning. Let’s get to work.