Sunday, 17 April 2016

OUR FATHER: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA


Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,
It is never out of place for children to approach their father, to run into his embrace when the fire breaks out. We strongly believe that it is extremely appropriate to approach you at this critical time . 
We are grateful that the pressures and place of your office avails the Nigerian people so much. That you have become our president at a time like this is a blessing, thorough, solid and available.
We, the people, bring this topic within your sphere. In 2014, we killed a young Nigerian boy in Jos. We permitted his neighbours to break into his home to dehumanise him because he is homosexual. In 2015, we raped a girl in Lagos because she is lesbian- as if rape cures anything. In 2016, Ondo State, a gentle man lost his life equally to homophobia.
Continuously, we have thrown our brothers and sisters to the dogs and they cannot help themselves (by reporting to the law enforcement agents) because even when they do, they do not(they are arrested for being of bringing the violation against themselves.) Since Nigeria began,  we have seen such homophobic violations being justified. However, when the government enacted the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013(the Act), the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (and Questioning) Intersex Asexual(and Allies which includes families, medical and paramedical experts, legal and para-legal experts, journalists, writers, teachers, leaders researchers….) community(the community), (human beings like everyone else) have been denied jobs, dismissed from their workplaces, evicted from  their homes, disowned and brutally dishonoured. In as much this could happen to any Nigerian, the community bears the worst and a greater threat at increased severity.
The Act amongst other things makes it impossible for us, native and visiting Nigerians, to acquire fundamental services including access to medical treatment, safe, private and secured existence. The Act denies us all the protection that the Constitution and your leadership afford every Nigerian citizen. This is simply because of the majority are bothered by our independent, private, mutual attractions and inclinations within our private space. Our private lives no toll on the independent safety, rights  and happiness of other individuals. However, democracy is not rule by most of the people but all of the people.
It has been argued that community’s existence is against Nigeria’s religious and cultural backgrounds. But, our father, our country is a secular one that embraces all believes that conform to our survival and stability. Moreover, we are not strangers to what religious extremists have been known to do, inflict on others and become. Regarding our culture, the community which in one way or the other involves everyone in the country. We are diverse and dynamic people sworn under the constitution to embrace and protect all kinds of diversity that does not threaten our common wellbeing. As the rest of the Nigerian population, persons with different sexual orientation and identity are proud of their country and the diversity of our culture and way of life. It is our sincere belief that our diversity is our beauty and that our diversity is the foundation of our security. It is also our strong conviction that, if there is anything that threatens our security and survival, it is intolerance and disrespect to our diverse way of life. How does loving safely and privately threaten anyone? How does meeting voluntarily, quietly and harmlessly, hurt anyone? How do voluntary sexual activities behind locked doors and even public displays of affections of any kind threaten our national security or morality?
Furthermore, it is apparent that any comparism between our existence and paedophilia or bestiality is undesirable and unfounded. The community strongly holds that voluntary consent to engage and co-existence is the very foundation of inter-personal relationship. It is also obvious that consent cannot be gotten from legal minorities (below 18), mentally unstable individuals and animals. However, what can we say about seeking the consent of a mother who does not and cannot decide whether or not she shall birth a homosexual, transgender or heterosexual child? Some things are not ours to determine. Inshallah, we shall all soon be able to tell them apart.
As you read this, the community is being unjustly crushed even after we have been driven out of our churches, homes, mosques, offices, schools and lives as we know it. we are forced into the darkness of danger and rejection, especially when we are not living double and dangerous lives like yet our invisible members are. Regardless, two years under the Act has left us an inevitably frightened existence to struggle with- some being utterly destroyed in the process. This is far cry from everything that your great leadership promised and now stands for.
Attached to this letter is a human rights report submitted at the Centre for Human Rights here in Pretoria, South Africa in February 2016 on the situation of human rights in Nigeria. It is dangerous, what has been recorded in Nigeria.
We have been to the courts, to the social media, to God and now we have come to you. We need your great government to intercept the out-play of this self-nourishing tyranny against the community that has gushes out of the Criminal and Penal Codes and the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013, as it is inhumane and challenges our cultural heritage, diversity as a people. Democracy has no business ignoring the minorities after all- if we truly can be called that. As a democratic leader who came into power through the love and full support of citizens, including the LGBTI parsons, there will never be anything more pressing and essential than repealing this particular Law and thereby ensuring the survival and full enjoyment of rights by all Nigerians .  Our Father, please repeal the Act.
A father knows his child, and accepts the best in him/her. A father audaciously, though often confusingly, engages with the complexities that are yet to be accustomed to or understood. We humbly your benevolence to engage with us on our humanity as your children, those who look up to your protection and defence.
We have a president, yes. But now we need you to stand, our father.
Respectfully,
Nnanna Ikpo
Samrawit Damtew
Tilahun Zewudie

Guillan Koko
(for the Nigerian LGBTIA community)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Tsilikin's Secret

Russia's Dmitry Tsilikin: Gay journalist stabbed to death a dozen times in St. Petersburg

An open heart knows no fear
But the warmth of loving
And warmth of a sincere tear
Like the gay Tsilikin
Whose heart was hushed
For a secret he did not create
'But the streets are crazy
And it could be anyone'
Anyone who has a secret to keep
Anyone from Nigeria, Russia, Uganda even South Africa
Anyone whose pink heart beats differently
Anyone curious and wanting
Anyone like Russia's Tskilikin
Your death means that we can die
And this should make the world think, see
The hushing of a heart is an evil with a vile stink
Whether its a deep red or the colour of velvet pink
That the streets and our homes close in on us
Because the conversations have exposed us
The media and technology have made us real
And our open hearts have made us vulnerable
Made us cry for a secret we did not create
Like the dark skin of a simple boy
And the gender of an underschooled girl
The story of an unscathed victim
And the secret of a hushed Tsilikin
In a world where death does not begin or end with the knife
But with hateful words and dangerous silence
With neglect and delibrate ignorance
Hushed affections and miscarried friendships
And anyone could be a victim
From Akinfessi to Tsilikin to...?
Who next, since it's you who is chosing

Image and more information sourced from: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-journalist-stabbed-left-slowly-bleed-death-russia/#gs.=5v65_k

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The world after babel

I got down in Maputo
So much portuguese
So many places to go
The words were not french
But I swear quartose is fourteen
Had we been cursed
Or blessed by the gift of babel?
Diversity was to confuse
But it filled us with colours
And dances we agreed on
Not to mention pictures
Tastes and textures
And drawings and kisses and translation apps
And spices and fabrics
And pizza and sensualities
And attractions and irritations
And new found laughter, and unveiled naughtiness
In a world where there is no word for gay 
But an 'oi' on grindr
In a place where there is not line for love
But the gentle squeeze of a stranger's crotch
The world after babel
Blessed by her fables
Told to a people stubborn enough to find their paths back to each other
In a Maputo without English
That has really stopped none from shining
In a blessed world, with black, white and more than one meaning to bliss

Monday, 11 April 2016

Preparing for the Sun

Naija, look, it will happen
All the rainbows will rise
And the darkness shall be lifted
Naija, look, it will happen
Because, for some strange reason hardwork pays off
Whether, it's good or bad
Naija, look, it will happen
Akinfessi's story will be told in the squares
And Kenny's Exodus read in our schools
Naija, look, it will happen
The sun will rise
Because there was independence
There was colonialism
So rebelion had a license
But when we get there 
Like South Africa and Maputo
Let's be different
For us, let's have all the issues resolved
Let the battles be won
Let rainbows breed not just from the law
But from the streets and hearts
Lets take all those blows now for our children ahead
Knowing that our dream Nigeria may not be reality in our life time
Lets fall into battle and bleed for our cause
Because either way falsehood or fighting exhausts everything
Naija, it will happen
But when it does let our streets be ready
When it does, let our ministries be ready
Lets face homophobia, biphobia and transphobia now, and engage them fiercely
So that not of it is left in a Nigeria without the anti-gay police
Lets not make Nigeria's mistake
Pursuing integration only after Independence
Crushed beneath bigotry without license
Let us prepare for the sun
Because it will come
Because God is on our side
Because hard work pays off
Let us prepare for the sun
Now that it is okay to be rebellious and ruthless
Let us wrench our hearts and lives if we must
Let us make the most of this pressure, our madness
Let our colours bleed
And let the white in our flag flush through prisms
Let the clouds of our rain bless our tanks with water
And even if we must ourselves be drenched
Let our soil and tubers drink and be fattened with life
Because it will
Because fighting exhausts everyone
And our spectrum will burn
So lets face phobia, crush them fiercely
For the days of victory are not too far ahead
Lets prepare for the sun
For when victory will, it will come.

#inspired by a generation of LGBTI rights activists ruthless enough to break the rules, to say what we need to say, and do what we need to do.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The sand our mother

Have you seen the sand, our mother?
Have we seen how simple she is
Have we seen that every thing left her
And to her everything will return
Have we seen the grace with which she advances
From the huts of slums of simple men
To the platter of kings
Have we seen her in colour trapped in show glasses
Have we seen her court the nails and backs of princesses
Have we seen the sand our mother
Our rising to heights don't bother her
She knows we will return
Have seen her without her mask
Yet as she is the most masked
Have we the sand our mother
Rise, rise and become us
And everything we are scared to become

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Homophobia and her arguments



Dear Africa,
 
The argument of homophobia is that the Nigerian custom and African tradition is not accepting of same –sex affection and does not has, has never or will ever condone it.  But for heaven’s sake, there is no such thing as ‘the Nigerian custom’ besides the brown uniformed public servants in charge of exports and imports of goods into Nigeria. Sexuality is neither a good, container nor vessel. It cannot genuinely be bought or sold by humans, nor can it be given or taken away.
There is also no such thing as ‘the African tradition’, because Africa does not have ‘the tradition’ to say that it is original, only or objective one. What is to say that African loins or hearts cannot naturally churn same-sex attractions, or non-conforming genitals or gender expressions?
Africa means us, the beautiful diverse realities that have the common ground of tolerance, and just tolerance. Beautiful realities like those of :the Azande people of Sudan whose ancient male warriors sought the affection of male lovers because the affection of their wives would neutralise their potency for battle; the Pangue tribe of Cameroun, where same-sex affection is an ancient tested and trusted charm for wealth creation; the Zvekumombe practice of teenage Zimbabwean shepherd boys who sought each others affection in the cold fields beneath the night’s stars; the 2000 year old painting of two male lovers sitting in the public glare of Zimbabwean state.
Africa means me, and the several interesting and diverse possibilities that I may want to explore academically, spiritually, financially, socially, emotionally, and more fiercely, sexually, when, how and with whom I may want to explore them.
Africa also means us, the little strands of hair that can’t make it neatly in the kinky bun. The realities and practices that are common, wide spread, secret and yet untalked about.

Africa, you know as well I do, that anyone who justifies homophobia is fiercely ignorant of you. Fortunately, they won't be for long. Odigonma. In faith, God blessing us, all that was hidden will come to light. You are rising like the phoenix. You and all the complex, yet beautiful things you stand for.

I love you still. Crazier by the day.

Warmly,
Nnanna.