Thabo Mbeki’s speeches (above) are a case in point. This politics further tends to keep desire out of the politics of ‘race’, as well as that of sex and gender. Nevertheless, particularly as not acknowledged, this politically incorrect desire goes on working as an active force in the continued re-producing and re-fetishisation of ‘race’.
Pleasure and desire
Even if sexuality and (white, male) sexual desire have been active factors in establishing the very notion of Africa and Africans, sexual pleasure and desire have rarely been objects of study for scholars studying Africa—female sexual pleasure and desire even less. Seen in this light, Diallo’s chapter provides novel information regarding measures taken in Mali for enhancement of sexual pleasure in married life. Sexual enjoyment—for men as well as for women—is explicitly condoned by the Koran (Mernissi 1975; Naamane-Guessous 1997). The co-existence in Mali of institutions for enhancement of sexual bliss in married couples, with institutions for various forms of female genital cutting, points to the fact that, in spite of the cutting, in Muslim contexts (unlike in Christianity) sexual enjoyment for women is not defined out of existence. Sexual enjoyment should, however, take place only in marriage, i. e. under male control. Where control of women in Christian cultures tends to be implicit, working through the ways in which women are defined and looked upon by society, control of women in Muslim cultures tends to be more direct and physical—and thus also more tangible and visible. Fatema Mernissi writes about this difference as reflected on one hand in Western imaginations of an Oriental harem, filled with passive, voluptuous, sexually accessible women, and on the other hand the Muslim imagination that women have wings, and that femininity is an uncontrollable power. “Femininity is the emotional locus of all kinds of disruptive forces, in both the real world and in fantasy,” Mernissi says (2001:24), pointing at the same time to the apparent absence of femininity as a threat in the Western imagination of passive accessible women. The importance of marriage, in Christian as well as in Muslim contexts, points to the shared axioms of heteronormativity, and also of male/female double standards, pillars of patriarchy, as discussed above. Acknowledgement of same-sex relations (cf. Machera’s chapter) pulls the carpet from under such axioms, implicitly endangering patriarchal power. This presumably is a major reason for present-day African patriarchs going out so massively against it.