By Robert Tapfumaneyi
CONTRARY to common belief that local gays and lesbians were borrowing from foreign culture, local traditional chiefs have reportedly admitted that members of the gay community have existed within their localities since time immemorial.
This was said by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) programmes manager Sam Matsikure in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com recently.
Matsikure said this has been evidenced by fines or compensation that have been paid by men having sex with men after being caught and dragged to the traditional leaders’ courts.
“What we have noted with some of our traditional leaders is that they do acknowledge that in their community, they have experienced or they know people who are gay or ngochani in their society,” Matsikure said.
“It’s something that has always been there, but it’s the unspoken and in existence for as long as someone doesn’t speak about it.
“In rural areas, they don’t speak about gay marriage, they don’t speak about it openly and say ‘I want to be in a relationship with a man’. People turn a blind eye on whatever these people will be doing.”
Matsikure added, “If they were caught, they have been instances where if you go to our historical archives…there are stories dating back to 18th century where people have been caught in same sex relationships or compromising positions and have been brought to our chiefs and so forth, where they will tell you we have remedies to that, where you pay compensation to a chief for defaming their village or sometimes you were thrown out.
“And some would move away to the cities but we have always known that.”
The activist went on to say they were prepared to meet the country’s traditional leaders and educate them more of gay rights.
“And these are things that they (chiefs) said come let’s talk about it so that we understand more,” said Matsikure.
“Chiefs are prepared to learn more and help lesbians and gays and bisexual people within their localities and help them to access services.
“But there are still traditional issues that are in place on how we can have conversation around it in culture and religion.”