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September’s [email protected] event PDF Print E-mail
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On the 4th of September 2009, Forum for the Empowerment of Women [FEW], hosted its monthly social event, Fridays at Few [[email protected]], where the topic of discussion was Heritage and how is being a lesbian part of our identities and heritage.

The discussion which was hosted at the FEW offices explored the relation between identifying as a lesbian while honoring our heritage. When the topic was further unearthed, issues of culture, tradition, sexual identity and customs were also brought to light. Other participants also brought out the challenges they faced when celebrating their traditions due to the fact that most traditions and customs believe that homosexuality is unusual.

Despite the fact that feminist values denounce virginity testing, participants of the discussion who are interested in traditional customs raised issues such as umemulo (Ceremony of Virginity Testing), circumcision and the paying of dowry as patriarchal and heterosexist, making it difficult for them to relate.  

Most traditions do not celebrate the above mentioned issues while linking them to sexual preferences or the ideas of same-sex relationships.

Yet other participants believed that we ourselves limit and/or sideline ourselves from traditional activities due to comfortability and identity. It was discussed that due to identity, for instance identifying as a butch women, it is difficult to wear what is called ‘Isigege’ (weaved skirt worn by virginity testing participants), which would make one feel uncomfortable but is still expected to be worn by all virginity testing participants.

Speaking to author and lesbian identifying Sangoma, Nkunzi Nkabinde, who adds that as a traditional healer, heritage for her represents the full celebration of oneself regardless of colour and race. But she also adds that it is difficult as some people find it hard to consult with her when they know her sexual orientation.

In the book titled ‘Black Bull’ Nkabinde tackles the issues of her faith, tradition, peoples ignorance and her life as a lesbian Sangoma. Nkabinde also tries to further challenge the notion of homosexuality as being unAfrican in the book.

In conclusion it was also discussed that one can only practice traditional customs when they fully understand their sexual preferences and how they are linked to their traditions.

As much as the participants tried to unpack the topic, many issues were raised making it hard to close the discussion. If you are interested in discussing this further, please mail us your suggestion and opinions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The next [email protected] details will be confirmed soon.