By Innocent Chi
is a general misgiving that Cameroon, and albeit the rest of Africa, is
virgin land to homosexuality. In some rare international news
appearances between 2006 and 2008, Cameroon was both on the defensive –
reaffirming its penal code in outlawing homosexuality even as the gay
and lesbian activists around the world were rebuking government's
treatment of 11 citizens who were arrested and charged for hanging out
at a prominent homosexual bar – and on the offensive – with President
Paul Biya calling on the Press and Cameroonians to find news elsewhere
other than in bedrooms. This offensive followed thunderous press
revelations of cabinet and public officials that were/are randomly
In a country where the President is the law of the land, there is no
gainsaying that President Biya's pronouncements at his 2006 ceremonial
end-of-year speech did more than empower closet gays and lesbians. It
literally legalised and opened the floodgates to a practice that social
observers maintain, is practiced as a means to an end and not a
lifestyle in and of itself.
Back in the 80's, I was attending
boarding school at the Cameroon Protestant College, CPC, Bali. The word
on the grapevine was an open secret about a senior student who was
having intercourse with some innocent kids under his care in the guise
of guaranteeing their protection from punishment or thrashing by his
classmates and other senior students.
It was also told that he
sort of hushed his deal with good humour and some goodies – food items
like chocolate spread, peanut butter, and garri – in his locker for the
well behaved "small" that was under his care. It would be preposterous
of one to think that this was an only case; as well it is dangerous to
jump the gun by concluding that it was a trend.
was laughed at and simply dismissed as mischievous behaviour stemming
from the fact that the school was by and large unisexual; excepting the
thirty (30) or so girls that were in high school, out of a total school
population of over 400). We recall that men living in too-close
quarters in South African mines and for long periods away from their
women during the apartheid years supposedly caused men to be attracted
to other men.
This experience is also reenacted in American
jails, where an outstanding number of men without prior gay exposure
acquiesce into submission in order to survive the jungle. The same may
explain the dilemma of the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of rampant
pedophilia among its Priests – Priests spend an awful lot of time with
other men at monasteries and see so much of the nakedness of other men,
they actually begin equating these with female parts and functions.
Any Truth In Accusations?
or not the entire country of Cameroon has become an all-boys school,
unisex prison or monastery is cause for concern. There is no arguing
the timing may be propitious for some of these self-proclaimed gay men
and lesbian women to come out from the closet.
What is disturbing
is the ratio of government officials and other public leaders that are
purportedly involved in acts of homosexuality and the desire to crack
down on the eying press. Unlike in the United States where press
revelations have led to public apologies and admission from the closet
gays, they are yet to man up to gay status. In fact, they all deny
vehemently. The question then: Is there any truth to these accusations?
adultery in Cameroon society is a humongous burden, the onus of which
rests squarely on the accusing spouse. The letter of the law says that
you have to catch your spouse in the act, literally with pants down and
penetrating. This speaks to the difficulty in building a case to show
that these alleged gay men and lesbian women are really what the press
is accusing them of. And so as these cases of sex, sexuality and
emotions generally go, the victims that feel unprotected by the
governing laws eventually resort to jungle justice.
In cases involving cheating spouses the one plans vengeance with sometimes deadly consequences.
this end, the reaction of victims has started telling the story that
accused gays are refuting. A high public official was recently
gang-raped and killed in the presence of his wife and kids by angry
young men as pay back. They informed his spouse that it was payback for
failing on his promise to pay one of the youngsters with whom he had
had ritualistic sex as a precondition for either keeping his job or
securing a better one.
But it is not the only jarring story. The
corpse of a naked teenage boy was recently found by a very prominent
hotel in Yaoundé. It is said that he had been thrown out the window
from several floors up. Sources say that investigations revealed that
the room was registered to an influential government official who
checked out of the hotel without paying his bill.
Experience At Yde Varsity In The 90s
stories go on and on….But I saw firsthand what was happening back in
the early 90's at the lone University of Yaoundé. I knew of a classmate
who was making good fortune pimping poor and needy young men to some
high profile members of the diplomatic corps to Cameroon that were
known to be gay (including allegations involving a Liberian Ambassador
to Cameroon). With a growing demand, the growing clientele equally
started asking for a different kind of product – younger boys. And so
the suppliers / pimps started thinking out of the box. Innovative ideas
took them into the gutters and street corners hunting for homeless boys
in the abandoned buildings of the nation's capital. The boys were given
showers, bought clothes and shipped out to designated Hotel rooms or
But the country has been in complete denial either of the
practice or of the problem. The lost time is not only deepening
hopelessness for the homeless boys and girls that know no better way of
surviving, it is also feeding the culture and dehumanising the victims.
If wishing it away were possible, parents and spouses would have.
Hellas…There are gays and lesbians in Cameroon and they are, like it
or not, creating a comfortable space for themselves.
everywhere when given a chance, the fairy tale has been that gay men
excel and make a lot of $$$ dough $$$. This financial what-withal buys
them the political clout and protection. It is pretty standard
In the meantime, even as the gay community
fights for its rights, advocates have to step up for the lost and
homeless children who have become prime products of sex trafficking.
Ironically, it is the gay population, in defense of its own rights that
is taking advantage of the less fortunate – innocent kids and
But the alleged exploitation by senior government
officials is most vexing as they ought to be the repositories of public
trust. It is even more disturbing that they are indulging in the
practice as part of initiation rights into some exclusive sorority;
much like it is fashionable joining the Rosicrucian Order.