By Rev. Kapya Kaoma
Dr. Henry Kanyanta Sosala’s (aka the Chitimukulu) association of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) with Zambia’s moral decay, as published in Lusaka Times on June 18, 2019, is laughable, sexist, and insulting to women. The Chitimukulu was recently honored with an honorary doctorate, but his views on comprehensive sexuality education are planted in untold ignorance. The devastation of morality in Zambia cannot be blamed on Basic Integrated Science; nor is morality solely sexual in nature. Worse still, it is highly reckless and even detrimental to good governance for the Chitimukulu to blame democracy, human and gender rights for Zambia’s moral decay.
When are we men going to accept that girls don’t get pregnant by themselves? Pregnancy is the fusion process of the male gamete, and the female ovum. Behind every pregnant girl is a man–teacher, pastor, school boy, and even the sugar daddy, among them, some of those who surround the Chitimukulu and the President.
What then is Zambia’s moral decay? It is punishing the pregnant girl, but not the man who got her pregnant. It is punishing the victim of rape to carry the child to full term, but not the rapist; it is proposing the permanent expulsion of the pregnant school girl, but not the boy who got her pregnant; it is imprisoning a girl who procured an abortion, but not the man who made her pregnant. Shouldn’t we imprison both the mother and the father in case of abortion? Such a law will never pass even in our so called Christian nation!
The Chitimukulu wrongly believes its CSE that makes our children sexually active. This false claim ignores the process of child development. Today, a girl who enters first grade at 7 is likely to reach puberty by the age of 10 or 11 (grade 4). In the absence of imbusa and ichisungu ceremonies, who will guide such a child, if teachers? By the way, if we fail to guide our children on sexuality, social media, TV, love videos, and their peers will do it for us. We may bury our heads in the sand, but our children know more about sex than the Chitimukulu wants us to believe. CSE saves from HIV/AIDS, STD, unwanted pregnancies and abortion-related deaths. To blame CSE for sexual frivolousness is akin to impugning mathematics for our country’s financial corruption.
Ironically, Dr. Sosala cites Lord Macaulay’s argument on the destruction of African culture as key to the colonization of Africans. It is equally irrational to interpret Macaulay’s position as promoting “democracy,” since colonialism and democracy are worlds apart.
The Chitimukulu does not know that the domination of African culture came with the Bible, which he repeatedly cites in his flawed analysis. Of course, the bible has been used to oppress people—from the poor to slaves to black people to women. It is not surprising that Dr. Sosala follows this route—only girls are to blame for being sexually active! I wonder who makes dogs, chickens, cats, lizards, ducks, and pigs among many other animals sexually active–well blame it on CSE and females too.
Dr. Sosala’s analysis may seem original; but they are not. He is just parading the discredited myths promoted by his U.S. conservative allies and the Vatican. Across Africa, traditional CSE exists. The Chitimukulu’s own Bemba culture, which he seeks to protect from Western CSE, engages in ichisungu, and imbusa ceremonies. The following song is an example:
Banacimbusa eyee (Mothers of the initiates)
Banacimbusa mwangalafye (Mothers of the initiates you are playing)
Mwafunda umwana eyee (You teach a child)
Mwafunda umwana mwamusha panshila (You teach a child, but you leave her by the roadside)
Ukufunda umwana eyee (To teach a child)
Ukufunda umwana kufikapo (To teach a child, you must be explicit)
Senseleni eye, senseleni akasuba kawa! (Hurry up, hurry up, time is running out).
Ukufunda umwana kufikapo implies comprehensive sexuality education, something Audrey I. Richards’s book, Chisungu: A Girls’ Initiation Ceremony among the Bemba of Northern Rhodesia (1931) illustrates.
The chisungu ceremony is for young girls upon reaching puberty. During the ceremony, girls are comprehensively taught about sexuality, including sexual skills accompanied by illustrations of male genitals. Similar ceremonies exist across Africa–hlobonga among the Zulu, kujama among the Swati of Swaziland (Chilisa 2006: 253), and ngweko among the Kikuyu of East Africa (Magesa 1997: 126). I suggest that the Chitimukulu seeks the wisdom of banachimbusa, banangoshe or his Eastern cousins on the same.
The Chitimukulu’s limited knowledge of the very culture he seeks to protect is telling. But his failure to address moral decay beyond female sexuality is even worse. Corruption, poor governance, stealing of public funds, arresting of political opponents and political killings are behind Zambia’s moral decay. But who can bite the very hand that feeds him?
The Author is Visiting Researcher at Boston University, USA. He was the original researcher to expose the ties between US right-wing evangelicals and the anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda, and has testified before Congress and the United Nations. He is the author of a number of books, including Christianity, Globalization, and Protective Homophobia, Democratic Contestation of Sexuality in Sub-Saharan Africa