Turning up the heat

Exams are almost upon us. Revision practise classes, last minute assignments, last minute lessons and an impending sense of panic. Last term the students went hyper at revision time — I have my own opinions about that and its relation to an education system that promotes factual exam answers writen by students in a language which is probably their third — but that’s not the point.

Meanwhile in the staff room the newspaper provides a rich source of raised voices at lunchtime. Today it was a story about a priest who’se genitals were severed by an irate wife for witholding his sexual services. The story is a little more complex than that, but the conversation, that I couldn’t even begin to represent here, reveals a lot about how my colleagues view the world. Here are a few opinions I have heard from individuals (though not intended to be representative of the staff as a whole):

  • Homosexuality == sodomy and is, accordingly, a sin. (While homosexuality for women still elicits incredulous disbelief, this all seems to stem from a strong association of the sexual orientation with the physical act, itself)
  • Asking a partner to establish mutual HIV status == an accusation of infidelity and connotes mistrust.
  • The high contamination and death rates for HIV/AIDS in Africa might have been exagerated in a money-grabbing conspiracy by greedy governments and NGOs.

7 Comments

  1. chris Says:

    How come you didn’t mention about the Tala secondary school students torching most of their school and the deputy headmaster’s car, in protest, of all things, mock exams?! That’s what the shouting over the newspaper was about here in Nanyuki today. Everyone looked abit stumped when I wondered aloud about how all this arson and violence seems to come from boarding schools where kids are under the daily influence of other kids versus their parents. Oh, and under the influence of drugs.

    Don’t you love this country?! Happy day to you, C.

  2. Mark Says:

    Erm, I mentioned my personal experiences of it in an earlier entry.

  3. Mark Says:

    Shortly after writing Turning Up The Heat, I read this article in my Guardian Weekly. Absolutely fascinating,go read it. Its saying that some of Africa’s conservative moral opinions are in fact those of the collonies resulting from, amongst other things, the imposition of carbon-copies of the laws of collonising nations which themselves have since changed leaving their indellible stamp on the ‘former’ colonies. (don’t get me started on the colonial effects of globalisation!).

    I’ve seen and wondered about those ‘leg-o-mutton’ sleves that now seem to form the ‘new-traditional dress’ of african women.

    Another one of those staff-room conversations strayed onto the topic of collonisation. The fact that there was no written history here before the collonies, and because those collonies lasted so long, its virtually impossible to know what life was like here before. I suggested once that Christianity was an imposed religeon here.
    "Oh no!", my friend said, "Before the missionaries, we had our own Christianity."
    "You mean your own religions?"
    "Yes, but they were very much like Christianity, weren’t they?", she said, appealing to the rest of the room for support; nobody can remember.

  4. Thaths Says:

    Let me guess. The opinions on homesexuality are most likely those of Peter. The opinion on "money-grabbing conspiracy by greedy governments and NGOs" is definitely that of Peter.

    My bet is that the comment on pre-Christian Christians is that of Jacinta (or Sister Eucharia).

    I don’t know what to make of the erasing of indigenous African religions / history by the colonization. I finished reading _Scramble for Africa_ a few months ago. The thing is that Africa was under the colonial yoke for only something like 100-150 years. Some parts for even less. India, by comparison, was a colony for something like 200+ years. How could the indigenous religion / culture of India survive while that of Africa was decimated was a question I often debated with myself. I think a lot of it had to do with racism. The black man was supposed to be only barely civilized and thus people felt the need to introduce a bit of culture to them.

    Also, things are not always what they seem. Underneath the overt religiosity and screaming street corner pastors is also a deeper African religion. Talk to the locals about "Majini" – the local voodoo. Wakamba are supposedly excellent at casting spells.

    Thaths

  5. Mark Says:

    Aw shucks, and I’d been trying very hard to avoid naming names. Anyway, you’re not exactly right about all the opinions.

    Thats a good point you make about India vs Africa loosing their traditions. How far back in India’s history goes writing? Many african languaged didnt have a written script until relatively recently, I suspect this might be a factor but i dont pretend to be any kind of authority.

  6. Chris Mungbean Says:

    From what I’ve read of African slaves being taken to Brazil and the caribbean, their religions and oral traditions went with them. Hence the continued existence of religions like Candomble, Santeria and Voudou, and the role of the Oreishas (deities) in these places, even where the culture and religion have been assimilated into the "local" Christian ones, or at least modified to be more compatible. (Which is what the Romans did in Britain when they colonised the Pagans.)

    Did any of the Kenyan people slip away to other places, and take their culture safely with them, when the colonisers and missionaries arrived?

    It’s quite scary that the past seems to have been erased there. Just because you don’t have written history doesn’t mean you don’t have history though… aren’t there any traditional stories or songs or did they all get suppressed?

  7. Thaths Says:

    Aw shucks, and I’d been trying very hard to avoid naming names. Anyway, you’re not exactly right about all the opinions.

    Damn! Sorry about that. As you rightly said, after all I didn’t get the names correct.

    Thats a good point you make about India vs Africa loosing their traditions. How far back in India’s history goes writing? Many african languaged didnt have a written script until relatively recently, I suspect this might be a factor but i dont pretend to be any kind of authority.

    That could be one of the reasons. Most Indian languages (there are tens and hundreds of dialects) have scripts going back a thousand years or more.

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