‘Stanley meets Mutesa’.
Dambudzo Marechera, Black Sunlight (1980)
The ‘nameless love’, recoded as a ‘vice’, was thought to be imported into Africa by depraved Europeans or invasive Arab emirs, who penetrated the passive Sub-Saharan land. Sexuality, or at least one aspect of sexual behaviour coded ‘homosexual’, complicates the clash between two civilizations but also two belief-systems. I therefore outline a movement from early novels in the 1960s and 1970s on both sides of the linguistic divide (Anglophone/Francophone) to later novels in the first decade of the twenty-first century, from sexual initation to gay emancipation. More specifically, this chapter makes a case for a church-and-state pincer plot around the issue of male homosexuality by addressing, in four of its first subchapters, the role of religion and the Church in some key African novels as well as, in the remaining subchapters, its anti-religious, anti-clerical converse, that is, a state-sanctioned type of humanism, which finds its finest expression in French existentialism.
The history of the first contacts between the Church and (pre-)colonial African societies lies beyond the scope of this chapter but, by way of introduction, I wish to use the legendary meeting between Henry Morton Stanley, discussed in Chapter 2, and Mutesa, the nineteenth-century king of Buganda in East Africa, to set the stage for the way the Church and the State are invoked to explain the (male) protagonists' same-sex desire in Sub-Saharan novels.