Discover more from Queer Lore: a POC perspective on LGBTQ history and folklore
LGBTQ+ people in East Africa
Transgender people in traditional cultures of Ethiopia and Uganda, homosexuality on the Swahili Coast
The Konso have “…no less than four [terms] for ‘effeminate man’” (p. 150). Sagoda, the one Hallpike elaborated upon, includes men who never marry, weak men, and men who wear skirts…
“Men who actually wear skirts are very few, and those who do are clearly incapable of acting as men. I knew one in Gaho, who earned his living curing skins, a female occupation. He was very effeminate in voice and manner…”
Ashtime is a term used in Maale culture that describes an individual who is assigned male at birth who presents more traditionally feminine, performs more traditionally feminine tasks in society, cares for their own houses, and may have had sexual relations with men.
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Bisexual King Mwanga II of Buganda
The 19the century King Mwanga II had a harem of page boys as well as female wives. Here are two different perspectives on his execution of the male pages for allegedly refusing to serve him sexually.
… the immediate pretext, if not the whole cause, for the tragedy was the refusal of the young Christian pages at the court to yield to Mwanga’s unnatural desires… the Christian converts professed ultimate fidelity to Christ and refused to yield to Mwanga’s homosexual advances… The king became infuriated with “the religion which made them prefer death to submission to his shameful demands…
These pages (martyrs) were double agents who spied on Mwanga and passed on critical state secrets to the Europeans…
Mudoko dako (transformed man) of the Lango people
A mudoko dako … is an effeminate male who is considered by Langi society to be … an "alternative gender status”… able to marry men…
The Swahili Coast
The Swahili people live on the coast of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.
In Chapter 5 of “The World of the Swahili”, Jon Middleton described the mashoga as “male transvestites who act as drummers and musicians at women’s festivals” who are often but not always associated with homosexuality.
…ritually powerful and socially ambiguous people... mashoga
are identifiable because they are the only male performers who play the ponbe, a woman's instrument, and participate in womens’ dances…