Resistance to Heteronormative Laws and Homophobic Religions in Selected Short Stories from Sub-Saharan Africa




characterisation, gender performativity, homophobia, homosexuality, queer African fiction, queer characters


This article explores the resistance exhibited by queer characters against homophobic legislation and religious norms within the framework of gender performativity in selected short stories from Sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis focuses on narratives from diverse regions, including Stanley Kenani’s “Love on Trial” and “In the Best Interests of the Child” (Malawi), Monica Arac de Nyeko’s “Jambula Tree” (Uganda), Davina Owombre’s “Pelican Driver” (Nigeria), Emil Rorke’s “Poisoned Grief” (Zimbabwe), and Dolar Vasani’s “All Covered Up” (Tanzania). The article argues that the queer protagonists featured in the chosen short stories actively resist societal pressures towards compulsory sexuality and assigned gender roles. Within the sociopolitical contexts of the characters, laws and religious doctrines prescribe and enforce a heteronormative framework that homosexual characters are compelled to adhere to. The theoretical framework guiding this analysis draws from Judith Butler’s gender performativity, which challenges the assumption of a direct alignment between biological sex and gender identity. According to Butler, being biologically male or female does not dictate one’s gender identity, and the same principle applies to sexuality. The article examines how heteronormative laws and homophobic religious doctrines contribute to the construction of mandatory sexuality and assigned gender roles. Through the lens of characterisation, the article analyses how queer characters in the selected stories actively challenge and denounce the homophobia perpetuated by these legal and religious structures. This exploration sheds light on the nuanced ways in which gender performativity theory manifests in the lived experiences and narratives of queer individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa.


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How to Cite

de Souza, Ben. “Resistance to Heteronormative Laws and Homophobic Religions in Selected Short Stories from Sub-Saharan Africa”. Imbizo, 15 pages .



Received 2023-04-25
Accepted 2024-01-08
Published 2024-03-04