Jidenna continues his press run hot off the release of his sophomore album 85 to Africa. Although the album has garnered much attention thanks to thirsty fans and twerk-tastic listening parties, Jidenna also has some interesting things to say about Africa.
The rapper and music artist stopped by Sway In the Morning recently to talk about his trips to African countries and what he’s learned over the last couple of years. The conversation took an insightful turn when Tracy G. brought up a 20-year-old known as Reese who went viral for a video defending his relationship with his transgender girlfriend Faith Palmer. Reese reportedly committed suicide last week and initially folks thought it was because he was being bullied for his relationship with Faith. However, later The Marsha P. Johnson Institute reported that Reese was abusive to Faith and when she refused to go back to him, he allegedly overdosed on drugs.
The whole story caused Tracy G. to ask Jidenna where he thinks we are in terms of toxic masculinity, homophobia and transphobia in the Black community. Jidenna took this time to bring it back to Africa and explain that homosexuality and queerness isn’t some Eurocentric thing:
“You hear these African leaders who are dressed in three piece suits, got an iPhone, speaking in English and not their native tongue, are saying that it’s ‘un-African to be homosexual, we don’t have it, that was brought as a European import’ is not true. It’s not true at all. In Uganda, the kingdom of Buganda at the time before Uganda, there was an openly gay king. If you go to the original cave paintings of South Africa…Zimbabwe actually, the Bushmen as they call them…the cave paintings, you’ll see homosexual acts in the cave paintings. If you go to different communities in West Africa, there were different rights of passage where if a woman was with a woman or a man was with a man that they were thought to be more powerful. There was never a time where this didn’t exist. Or where it was just hands down homosexuals were wrong. That’s not actually an African thing, which means it’s not a Black thing.”
Jidenna wasn’t just talking hot air either.
King Mwanga II of the Buganda Kingdom (now modern-day Uganda), is also well documented. He began his rule in 1884 and although he had many wives, he often had sex with his male subjects. According to Face 2 Face Africa, he constantly defied British rule and Christian missionaries’ influences on Buganda’s culture. Many historians say he even killed some of his men because they denied his advances due to their Christian conversion (although there are a few sources who dispute this reason).
Despite particular details, most historians agree that homosexuality, gender fluidity or some form of queerness was present in Africa before Europeans or Whiteness became a thing, and it’s documented in such books like Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities.
It seems Jidenna is continuing to push conversations about Africa in a way that hopefully gives more context to the issues Black America faces today.