Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The narrow-minded, short-sighted fury of Africa's people..

I left the following comment in reaction to this post in the Nyasa Times, an online publication that describes itself as an "award-winning newspaper and online community that aims to inspire action and advocacy on issues that matter most to Malawians". This was on the day the court in Malawi ruled that Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the gay couple, had a case to answer.

Anengiyefa says:

I attended the protest rally in London this afternoon. It was while at the rally that it was announced to those of us present, that the court had ruled that the couple have a case to answer.

My question is this: Since what the law ciriminalises is a physical sexual act, i.e., to be precise, anal sex between men, how can it be established by way of irrefutable evidence, which is admissible in court, that the couple engaged in this act?

If the couple have been subjected to an involuntary medical examination, as was suggested by one of the speakers at the rally, such evidence ought not to be admissible in a court of law. As I understand it, Malawi is a Common Law jurisdiction and the courts in Malawi are courts of law, not courts of public opinion.

As a lawyer myself, I am appalled to hear of what Lawyer Viva Nyimba supposedly told Reuters. Public opinion should have no part to play in this. My view is that it is the Malawian society that is on trial here, and by extension, much of sub-Saharan Africa. I am a Nigerian man and I have been forced to leave my homeland for a life in a safer environment because of my sexual orientation.

It is ironical that our ancestors were more accepting of those members of their communities that were different. Much of our societies’ homophobia derives directly from the colonial era, the transfer to Africa of European ideas, culture and values and the impact thereof on the minds of Africans. Now even our former colonial masters who had poisoned our minds in the first place, have accepted the truth and shed attitudes of intolerance. But nearly 200 years on, we Africans continue to cling to 19th Century European values. What happened to the values of our ancestors? In Uganda they even propose death as a punishment for homosexual behaviour. Did our ancestors kill members of their communities that they thought were different?

Our history is replete with the occurrence of homosexual conduct within traditional African societies. I expect someone to shout back refuting this particular claim, and I won’t be surprised. Because the history that we know, the one that modern day Africans have been taught, is the history that the Europeans re-wrote for us. It is this re-written history that they wanted us to know. Goodness, we even speak the Europeans’ languages more than we speak ours. Much of our true history is lost.

In response to my comment the replies appearing hereunder were made:

  • Lady Gaga says:

    Anengiyefa, you are Nigerian.
    shout Nigerian in Malawi, women will cling to their bags. shout Malawian, people will continue their normal business. I rest my case

  • Chikhamu Rodgers says:

    Man or woman, if you are paid to make useless noise here then you will just make us hate you. We know nigerians trade their dignities all in the name of dirty cash, but i think you can agree with me that we don’t intervene in that. So we beg you to go back into your department of common senses, rethink and you will realize that this is not nigeria, but malawi. Just look these names, Malawi and Nigeria, can’t you see they are different?
    You are a lawyer/president/priest/farmer but we still don’t need any help from people like you. If you are here in malawi, just thank God, and mind your business.
    You are a nigerian, like those british idiots, you can’t tell us what is good or bad for us, ok. You better zip up your probboscis.

  • Yobu 10:10 says:

    This is laughable, a Nigerian trying putting Malawi on trial because of its laws. How can you say public opinion has no say in this? This just explains why people in Nigeria are just killing each other like insects; the government and the courts don’t care about public opinion so people are taking matters into their own hands.
    Here in Malawi, the government respects public opinion. It is a government of the people for the people and by the people. Laws are made after extensive public consultation. I am not a lawyer myself but I would tell you now that you are the last person I would want to influence Malawian laws. Viva Nyimba is one of our respected lawyers; he is well conversant with Malawian laws, so you please stay clear.

    mwanabele says:

    Anengiyefa: stupid nigerian what have you to do with Malawi, leave our country alone.We can’t allow that in Malawi period.You and your white masters, whose arse you are probably licking dont have nothing to do with us,IDIOT

I gave all of these responses the silent treatment, since none of the comments deserved an answer. But clearly, it appears that these responders are quite incapable of seeing beyond the fact that I am a Nigerian and they are Malawians, a fact which in any event bears no relevance to the subject matter at hand, i.e., the unjust and continued incarceration of two Malawian gay men, whose only "crime" is to have publicly declared their love for each other.

With such unbridled hatred for one another, one cannot but wonder what the future portends for Africa's people. Poverty does not engender hatred, surely. Or does it?


THERishouldbeAPY said...

Wow. I had NO idea that we as Nigerians were hated so much by other Africans... Here you are, sharing your view on a very important subject, and all they focus on is that you're Nigerian and therefore should have no opinion on things concerning another country on the SAME continent. The respondents barely addressed the issue at hand... I'm genuinely surprised.

Anengiyefa said...

Its almost as if people love to hate Nigerians. In South Africa, all crime by non South Africans is attributed to Nigerians. "Nigerian" is a euphemism used to describe any West African and carries with it a unpleasant connotation.

And let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that this bad reputation is completely undeserved, because our countrymen do engage in nasty stuff. Its like that Igbo saying that when you dip one finger into palm oil, the other fingers do get soiled.

That said, quite a bit of the negative sentiment towards Nigerians derives from feelings of inferiority. But out of respect for several of my close friends and indeed, my boyfriend, who are Africans, but not Nigerians, I won't go too far down this road.

Let us be aware however that there are those Africans in the know, who rely for their views not on rumour and speculation, who are aware of the truth about Nigerians. And it is from among these that most of my close friends are drawn..

laBiscuitnapper said...

You know, I remember ranting about this with my friend after seeing 'District 9' and lately, even she - who is as white, middle-class English as you can get - has started complaining to me about how people are 'hatin' on Nigerians'! We - her, my sisters and I - like to joke abut it and say that's because everyone knows we're going to take over the world someday.

On a more serious note, it's definitely unexpected and the vitirol is almost shocking! Still, humans will be humans. One good thing about it is it might stop people lumping all Africans as one.

Though knowing our luck, it'll probably turn into 'Africans... and Nigerians'!