Basha is one of the most common and significant words in Swahili slang to name active homosexuals or men. And we mean men who are “really, masculine” but who, occasionally, or not so much, have sex with “female” men.

The term derives from the Turkish word paşa, also found in Arabic as باشا [bāšā] and in Spanish as bajá or pasha. It means governor, man with a position of high command in the army or the administration, etc. Within the Swahili speaking areas it is also used to name the king of a deck of cards.

Its use as a homosexual slang word goes back at least to the 80s and we found it in several dictionaries of the time, such as the Standard Dictionary of Swahili, which also states that the term does not presuppose homosexuality, but it is rather referred to the “man who sodomizes”, disregarding the gender of the couple.

The sexual partner of the basha would be the shoga. Some authors have inferred a model structured on power, money, the age of each one of the parties, etc, in the basha/shoga relationship. Nevertheless, and based on what we have been able to find out and suppose, it had much more complexity at the feelings level.

So, we are fronted once again with the idea of Mostacero (Spanish, Peru) or Manyak (Arabic), which show that one thing is homosexual behavior and another very different one, homosexuality.

Variations: Mabasha.

Related: Shoga.

Read also: Homosexual behavior and homosexuality (Article of our blog)

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