Zambian actor Patrick Shumba Mutukwa, who appeared in the hit Marvel movie Black Panther, is embroiled in a gay adult film scandal.
Mutukwa, who is now based in the US, was hailed in Zambia as a national hero for his role in the groundbreaking Hollywood blockbuster as a border tribe warrior. He also worked as a dialect and accents assistant on the production.
Mutukwa even toured the country last month to meet fans and deliver motivational talks.
That adulation has now been shattered by claims that he previously appeared in a ‘gay’ adult film in his 20s, with clips and naked images circulating online.
Many Zambians took to social media to express their “disgust” at the news, with some describing Mutukwa as “satanic.”
“This man was actually allowed to go throughout the country giving motivational talks to our youth and yet he engages in such immorality for a living,” wrote the Zambian Observer.
The actor’s publicist, Larissa Long of BlueRed Communications, issued a statement about the controversy, addressing the “unsavory video”.
“He was a young man that made a choice not all may agree with however, it does not change who Mr. Mutukwa is as a man, philanthropist, or actor,” said Long.
“Mr. Mutukwa has grown and learned from his past as we all do. Although he recognizes his errored decision he does own up to the immature behavior in his past.”
She pleaded for Zambians to recognise him as “man you’ve grown to love, not the youth that makes immature decisions”.
Speaking to BBC Africa, Long insisted that her client “is not now, nor was he ever a gay porn actor.”
She added: “There was no one in the video with him. He is embarrassed by the actions of his youth but certainly has nothing to apologize for, as what he did was not illegal or harmful to anyone.”
Mutukwa, however, has apologised in a statement. “Thank you for understanding we all make mistakes but know I will continue to bring pride to Zambia. My growth continues in everything I do from errors to successes,” he said.
He also posted a heartfelt poem on Facebook (see below) that described his emotions following the fallout from the scandal.
The backlash against the actor is based not only on the allegedly explicit nature of the video but also homophobia surrounding its ‘gay’ connotations.
The country is one of the most conservative in Africa when it comes to homosexuality. A 2016 survey found that only 7% of Zambians would not mind having gay neighbors, one of the lowest scores on the continent.
Consensual adult same-sex acts are illegal in Zambia, with sentences of up to 14 years in prison. Attempts to have same-sex sex without being successful are punishable with seven years’ jail time. The country has been named as among those that force men accused of homosexuality to undergo anal medical exams.
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