Disordering and reordering African Sexualities1 through the Power of Language and Naming
Gyaviira Kisitu

Among the aspects that make complex the understanding of sexualities in Africa is that of linguistic and interpretation. As a power, language has through descriptions and naming, been used to mediate, disorder, and reorder sexualities in African societies. This process is often gendered and can be recognised through words, phrases and expressions that communicate certain dynamics of power. As a tool of power language has been utilized by colonialism, Christian missions, cultural traditionalists, popular culture protagonists, and international bodies to lodge colonialists’ linguistics while dislodging many African traditional languages and practices. Practices such as Female genital circumcision (FGC) have persisted partly due to linguistic limitations.Whether FGC is understood as a ‘mutilation’ or ‘other’, nevertheless language plays a central role in obscuring efforts to address health complications associated with the practice. The paper uses an African feminist approach. First, it argues that linguistic aspects that embed the contemporary understanding of African sexualities have colonialist and Christian missions’ roots, and that the dislodging of local languages has facilitated continued violence against women. Second, by taking the case of female genital circumcision as still practiced by some communities among the Sabiny people of Uganda the paper argues that the internationally recognised term of ‘mutilation’ may not necessarily be ‘communicating’ to the practicing communities, instead may be interpreted and resisted as imperialistic.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijgws.v3n2a9