Traditional African systems of land ownership and their impact on lesbian women

Authored by: Jennifer Shinta Ayebazibwe

Routledge Handbook of Queer African Studies

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138503472
eBook ISBN: 9781351141963
Adobe ISBN:


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Carol P. Christ offers a very useful definition of patriarchy that I will adopt because it encapsulates what is at the heart of this chapter:

Patriarchy is a system of male dominance, rooted in the ethos of war which legitimates violence, sanctified by religious symbols, in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality, with the intent of passing property to male heirs, and in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men, and are permitted to rape women, to seize land and treasures, to exploit resources, and to own or otherwise dominate conquered people. 1

Any reference to patrilineal inheritance in this chapter has this definition in mind and highlights the place of lesbian women and all those who are not considered vital, in the perpetuation of patriarchy. “Omushaija n’omushaija,” a Runyakole (Bantu language from South Western Uganda) phrase that literally translates into “a man is a man,” is a common saying that can be found in most Bantu languages. It is also a shared expression in whatever form it manifests itself in the broader patriarchal world: “Be a man!” “you are the man,” “grow some balls!” “grow a pair!” All these injunctions imply the same thing: The inherent superior value attributed to maleness as opposed to femaleness. Put differently, no matter what a woman does, achieves or amounts to, she is believed to never reach equal value, status, and ability to a man. A man by birthright and socio-politically sanctioned beliefs and practices is considered a full person deserving respect, even as a child.

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