A threat to Zulu patriarchy and the continuation of community : a queer analysis of same sex relationships amongst female traditional healers at Inanda and KwaNgcolosi.
Through a case study of female traditional healers who practice same sex relationships, this study attempts to provide some reasons for the opposition to same sex-relationships in Africa. The main question that the study grapples with is: If traditional healers practice same sex relationships, why does the Zulu community (and African communities in general) insist that same sex relationships are “un-African?” Given that homosexuality has been labeled as “un-African” and “un-cultural”, how does one explain the existence of homosexual relationships amongst Zulu sangomas, who are considered the custodians of culture? The study draws on the experiences of ten female traditional healers from Kwa-Ngcolosi and Inanda. The data was produced through workshops, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. Queer theory and African feminist cultural hermeneutics were the lenses through which the data was analyzed. The findings show that beliefs in procreation as a means for the continual survival of the ancestors in the community and beliefs in the supremacy of the male in society as demonstrated in the killing of lesbians are the major reasons for the rejection of same sex relationships in African societies. The study concludes that within the traditional belief systems of the ancestors, women do have authority and can choose alternative relationships. Furthermore, in the sphere of traditional healing, recognition is given to different sexualities.