Skip to main content
No Access

The Aftermath of Decolonization: Gender and Sexual Dissidence in Postindependence Namibia

Since the late 1990s, Namibian gender and sexual dissidents have publicly challenged homophobic statements made by leaders of the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO), the country’s ruling political party. In this article, I treat Namibian gender and sexual diversity organizing as a decolonization movement contesting SWAPO’s grip over the trajectory of decolonization. To illustrate how gender and sexuality movements operate as decolonization movements, I analyze how feminist and LGBT activists have responded to SWAPO leaders’ political homophobia since 1995. I draw on an analysis of twenty-eight in-person, qualitative interviews with Namibian LGBT activists and four months of ethnographic observation of the activities of Sister Namibia, a feminist organization, and The Rainbow Project, an LGBT movement organization, that I conducted in 2006. I also analyzed 338 Namibian newspaper articles published between 1995 and 2010 that mention homosexuality, antihomosexual sentiments, or LGBT activism.