Often in our culture, oppression is perpetuated by religious Puritans for whom life is either or, without the slightest regard for the actual complexities in which we exist, and the specters of identities, and specifically gender identity.
The earliest religion in Botswana, as old as the earliest inhabitants of the region that became the country, is a form of what is commonly referred to as “Traditional African Religion” (ATR). ATR recognizes the great diversity of traditional practices of Africans, which include various ethnic religions. It is rooted in plurality, recognizing that the richness of our diversity stems from this pluralistic composition. By definition, ATRs are essentially the indigenous and indigenous religions of the African people, which deal with cosmology, ritual practices, symbols, arts, society, etc. It is a way of life linked to culture and society, which affects the world view of the African people.
For a very long time, the ATRs were the only known religions on the African continent, including Botswana. In the late 1800s, a wave of disruption of these practices began to filter through the country, through various missionaries, who introduced various alternative ways of being, associated rituals, and structures for the practices of these new religions. . In Botswana, the church became larger as colonialism spread in the early 1900s. Christianity, along with other Abrahamic religions, in our context, was one of the justifications used by European powers to exploit and colonize Africa. For many European countries, the monotheistic Abrahamic religions represented Western civilization, and especially for current conversation it was also the main basis of Anglo-Saxon morality.
These religions were the major force in the partition and eventual colonization of the African continent. Colonialism was therefore designed to be, in many contexts, grounded in religion, giving the Puritans a way to impose their religious beliefs on the inhabitants of the land they occupied.
Critically, the colonizers did not grant freedom of religion to others, especially “non-believers”. The approach of the colonizers was of course to convert the tribal leaders, the dikgosi, who had the ear of the people and held the power to provoke a nationwide movement.
One of the greatest anchoring principles in the Abrahamic religions is that one should not serve any god other than God. It was a major starting point for many of the country’s chief advisers, who believed in consultations with ancestors and the worship of other beings. Another starting point became English Christianity, which left no room for anything or anyone.
This meant that the Batswana would have to, if they were to conform to Christian values, abandon their religious, cultural and traditional identities, to please the God introduced by colonialism. A large majority of Batswana embraced this way of being, which dictated and prescribed everything about the life to be led by converts. To that extent, he also dictated public morals, including in matters of identity, sexuality and expression. I guess it was difficult or even almost impossible to control a people you don’t understand, so one strategy, to stay in power and under the control of the colonizers, was to condition people to what they should aspire to be. , “Pure Christians”. Many of these fundamental religious moral standards made their way into law, thanks to the influence of the clergy on politics and traditional rulers.
Although a large majority of our laws were imported, logs, timber and barrels of the colonizers, they have remained largely unchanged, due to the importance of the moral standards upon which the laws were based. Before colonialism, during colonialism and even now, there were various gender practices, identities and expressions in and among our people. We have always understood that sexuality is constructed and recognized through the complex pluralistic articulations across the continent.
However, when the Puritan movements of the Abrahamic religions imposed a certain way of being specific and apparently inalienable, it became what was normalized, throughout everything else known on the continent. The importation of the monotheistic religions meant the understanding of the Supreme Being as he was and is presented. Many argue that there are continuations and convergences of the ATR and the Abrahamic religions. Both have [a] Be supreme[s] and spirits on behalf of humans; they also have dark or evil spirits which, in Christianity, would be the devil. The main point of division, however, is that Abrahamic religions view the body of women as the place of sin, it is viewed as morally corrupt, and it is viewed as a distraction from God and the thoughts of God. ATR, on the other hand, revere and revere female bodies for their reproductive nature as well as their iconic sexual character.
The control and regulation of African sexualities remains a critical anchor point for patriarchal capitalism and the Abrahamic religions. In organizing the morals of the African people, religion continues to play an essential role, and continues to be used.
Often there is little regard for the humanity of those who are, by reason of problematic statutory or normative laws or practices, oppressed and limited in their full existence. The principles of equality and non-discrimination are further removed from religion than other human rights values, for the reason that power and control cannot persist where hierarchy does not exist. Heritage institutions built for the conditioning of the masses will always feed on these distorted perceptions of human identities, and in particular of diverse sexuality. The question then becomes, how do we unlearn and undo this colonial heritage in the way we conceive of sexuality?