Breaking/Voicing the Silence: Diriye Osman's Fairytales for Lost Children

  1. 1 Universidad de Cádiz

    Universidad de Cádiz

    Cádiz, España


ALT 36: Queer Theory in Filmand Fiction

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Year of publication: 2018

Pages: 123-134

Type: Book chapter

DOI: 10.1017/9781787443730.010 GOOGLE SCHOLAR


The relationship between queer studies and African studies presents a long thread of dis-encounters. On the one hand, queer studies have regularly taken Western countries and their identity politics as a referent and, on the other, African studies have often avoided placing queer subjects in the academic agenda. Additionally, as Taiwo A. Osinubi aptly notes ‘North America-based Africanists allied with North American queer studies worry about the seeming indifference of American queer studies to African studies as well as the indifference of queer studies to Africa and African studies’ (‘Queer Prolepsis and the Sexual Commons’: 13).Despite all this, in the last few years, queer studies have proliferated in some African universities and the portrayal of LGBTI characters has spread in African literature and films, particularly in South Africa but also in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kenya. These texts offer an array of the complexities of queer lives and experiences that debunk the homogenisation of African queer people or the stereotypical trope that ‘Africa is a homophobic continent’. Such a monolithic image of one single homophobic Africa is a fallacy. As Keguro Macharia pointed out in The Guardian, ‘Homophobia in Africa is not a single story’. Moreover, homosexuality has to be historically and geographically contextualised, since it is inextricably interwoven with categories such as ethnicity, religion, class, nation, diaspora or globalisation. Hence, as Macharia contends ‘we must understand homophobic acts within their specific local histories as these intersect with broader global histories’.The queer characters in African novels and films assert that to be loved, cherished and accepted is a basic human need. However, they also denounce how for many of them acceptance is bound with silence. Sometimes silence is not golden and though it might seem that you are waving you are just drowning. As Audre Lorde suggested, ‘your silence will not protect you’ (Sister Outsider: 41). The contemporary British-Somali writer, critic, and visual artist Diriye Osman, a young gay Muslim man who grew up in a very religious Muslim household, also defends this belief and, like many other African queer people, challenges the cultures of silence and invisibility surrounding their lives and everyday practices.