Sex, secrecy and religion in Africa

    “Secrecy,” says American fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, “is the beginning of tyranny”. But I think, secrecy is actually the abode of darkness, ignorance, prejudice and confusion. Because whatever is held in secret is like something held in the dark- it can be anything, it can become anything. It can become nothing.

    In Africa, so much secrecy prevails in the area of human sexuality. Sexual expressions are preferably done in secret or discussed in hushed tones. There is hardly any open honest debate or dialogue on sexual issues going on anywhere on the continent. All questions about sexual matters appear to have been answered and such answers are taken to be correct- absolutely correct. Sexual rules are taken to be beaten paths cast in stones without any room for revision, change or improvement. And any attempt to question, challenge or alter the sexual norms and traditions is perceived as a taboo or an open invitation to social chaos and moral anarchy. Africa’s secretive morality has caused so much confusion, misinformation and misrepresentation of sexual dynamics in the region. It has estranged Africans from the table of ongoing debate on global ethics and morality. It has thrown up self appointed moral demagogues and custodians of African cultural norms.


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