Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What is Happening in Nigeria and Uganda?

Photo from Instinct Website
In perusing news stories on the net I came across a comment on the Instinct News Magazine by someone called Aderopo who said he grew up in Nigeria. I find his comments enlightening not only because he asks some pertinent questions, but also because he is a person who has some legitimacy in the conversation in terms of understanding the the cultural and historical background against which the current atrocities are occurring.

Aderopo contrasts the current anti-gay violence with a status-quo where LGBT persons were tolerated as a part of the larger community,  but did not draw attention to themselves - did not have an identity apart from the larger community.

While I do not agree that LGBT activism should be blamed for anti-gay backlash, (and I'm not sure Aderopo is saying this) he seems to think that the status quo of several years ago was at least more tolerable than the current anti-gay violence, which, in his opinion is due to the more visible fight for LGBT rights in these African nations; and that the concept of LGBT rights is viewed with mistrust because it is a "western" concept and therefore "foreign" agenda.

Aderopo seems to think that the very deliberate anti-LGBT stance on the part of the government is directed primarily at the west, at the ideas coming out of the US and western Europe because they represent an attack on African nations' sovereignty and culture.

He does mention the Christian/Muslim religious and cultural opposition to LGBT rights but does not make the connection with the "western" and therefore "foreign" (US) Christianist interference in the political machinations of Uganda and Nigeria - the fact that so-called Christian churches and organizations from the US have provided support to the government and propaganda to the citizens to further anti-LGBT laws, prosecutions and ultimately, vigilanteism and violence.

No matter how you view this in terms of "cause and effect" the violence and atrocities being directed at the LGBT communities of Nigeria and Uganda must be unequivocally condemned. What Aderopo seems not to understand is that the fight for LGBT rights is indeed a cultural revolution and that even though no one was prosecuted under the old anti-gay laws and that LGBT persons were "tolerated" the status quo was oppression, no matter.

The fact that African LGBT persons are owning their identity in a horribly oppressive society is just the beginning of the fight for their human rights there. And while it may have its inspiration in western or foreign cultures, human rights and LGBT rights have no national boundaries. The tragedy is that so many innocent lives are destroyed and that violence against LGBT persons is not only allowed to continue unchecked, but is actually encouraged.

Aderopo says we (westerners) need to change our tactics in advocating for LGBT rights in Africa. That leaves the conversation open to suggestions.

The following is a copy of the comment by Aderopo:

In my view, the West push for more advocacies on LGBT rights is responsible for the danger the LGBT community are facing in Africa due to lack of  understanding or deliberate ignoring the sensitivity of the cultural and social structure dimension of the communities in Africa. Instead of condemning the leaders, I think it is important to start asking questions Why this Laws now?, especially in Nigeria and Uganda, why not 20 years or even 10 years ago?. This will go a long way to understand how to fight for the LGBT rights without creating more problems for the already vulnerable community. Or what is the essence of advocacy that create more problems than solutions
Growing up in Nigeria, I often would hear the word, “dan daudu” this term is attributed to a person who has the characteristics and demeanor of both male and female; however, with more pronounced male features. From my understanding dan daudu sometimes dresses like a woman and has sexual intercourse with both male and female. Dan daudu at times would marry a male and or a female for reproduction. I don’t recall hearing a revolt against this special gender amongst us. They were accepted in a community that are Predominantly Christians in the Middle-belt and in some cases in the North where Islam is consider as the religion. No one castigated them for anything, despite the fact that the 1979 constitution stated 2 years jail term for sodomy, none was arrested or persecuted. One could say, dan daudu would have his “cake and eat it is too”. But I can say to you that today, the same people that were accepted by the same communities are being hunted down like dogs, the big question is WHY?. Also when I was in Primary school, I often hear my aunts discussing about their friends in school that are lesbians, my aunts did not discriminate against them and yet they live together in Harmony, But now the story has changed.
However, the trend of tolerance changed about 5 to 7 years ago when the advocacy for LGBT rights started growing in Nigeria. I will argue that the hatred for LGBT is as a result of the counter discourse against LGBT right by religious leaders, painting the picture of those that advocate for LGBT rights are Atheists (which for me is untrue, I have Christian friends that are activist) or looking to make money. It is rather unfortunate that a good cause has now been politicized, and I don’t see how this will benefit the cause of the LGBT community. The discourse is  so strong that a street trader now knows what is LGBT but in a wrong way because the other side is winning based on the highly religious structure of the society (Identity). African leader wants to show to the world that I don’t take shit from the west, this is unafrican, and it is against our culture and our God. For them, it is a way to get what they wanted from the west, at least North Korea Young Leader threatened to start a nuclear War last year to get more food aids. In many ways, one will not blame them because of the selective intervention of the WEST on abuse of human right. I wonder why such intervention were not done in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Brunei among other western allies known for highest level of disregard to Human rights. Yet Obama visited Senegal to call for respect for LGBT, Women, Rule of Law and democracy. I am eager to see him visit any of the countries I mentioned above and issue same statement, fund advocacy groups to sensitize the communities of LGBT rights n Saudi Arabia.
I think it is high time to discuss why the hostilities against LGBT is so strong in Africa, I have a clear evidence of the Dan daudu in Nigeria, once lived in peace within the community now hunted for what was initially accepted by the community  


  1. To answer the question raised in your title: it's the New Holocaust, and it will be long and bloody and beyond horrific.

    And as you outlined in your post, the causes of it are complicated by national and cultural differences, not to mention the fact that most former colonies around the world have a chip on their shoulder about "imperialism" even long after they have been completely free to go their own way. And sadly, in many if not most cases, that way has led straight to dictatorship, unbridled corruption, and frequent bloodbaths for some pretext or another.

    Aderopo is right that of course the West does not press Saudi Arabia, et al., nearly as hard on human rights issues - they have us by the balls with their oil, and their strategic locations for our military forces. That's realpolitik, and until someone invents a way to manufacture electricity cheaply out of air, water, or sunlight, we will always have to tread lightly with those countries.

    My heart breaks for all our brothers and sisters in Africa, Russia, the Muslim countries, and other hellholes of the world. But the terrible reality is that no one is going to lift a finger to save them, just as all the world stood by and let the Jews be crushed in the meatgrinder of Nazi fanaticism.

    Nobody at all was willing to go to war then to save the Jews. And no matter how many LGBT people are tortured and killed in our day, I can't foresee that the world will step up to save them, either.

    All too sad to contemplate. But let us never forget that the foaming rightwing evangelical preachers would be doing exactly the same thing to us, right here and now, if only they could.

    And who knows what may come in time? If you look back over all the long centuries, you will see that persecutions and pograms of the Jews came and went - one century, they were pretty safe and prospering, the next the pendulum had swung and they were being slaughtered like cattle again.

    It could happen the same way with us too. Don't think it couldn't.

  2. Aderopo does make some valid points, but from all I've read, it seems that Western ultra-conservative Christians have done the most damage. Sadly, I'm in complete agreement with Russ Manley's comments.



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