Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Soweto strings..



Not for the first time, my original post has been inexplicably deleted. I salvaged this video fortunately. The charity Buskaid's website is worth visiting. Click here too and here.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

My sleepwalker

The phone on my desk rang. It was Silla from reception asking if I was available to see a client who was very upset and wanted to see someone right away. I asked what the problem was and Silla said the woman didn't speak much English, but that she had indicated that her son was in some kind of trouble with the Police. From the tone of Silla's voice, I knew she really wished that I should see the woman. So I shoved aside what I was working on and asked that the woman be shown in. The door opened and a 30-something year old Somalian woman entered my room carrying a child in her arms, a toddler. Following behind her was a lean, bespectacled teenager. The resemblance was obvious and I saw immediately that these two were mother and son. Mrs G's frustration was clear to see, so I did the best I could to get them to relax. I then got down to the business of finding what I could do for them. Mrs G spoke little English, but her son A, who was 18 and attended school, acted as our interpreter.

The story was that sometime the previous week, policemen had visited their home and invited A, the son, to the police station. After the visit to the police station on that date, the son had been released on bail and requested to attend the police station again today. Mrs G had accompanied her son to the police appointment this morning and, (thrusting the charge sheet at me), Mrs G said that her son had now been charged with the offence of breaking and entry.

Their neighbour next door, a female Polish immigrant, had made a complaint to the Police that she had been awoken from sleep in the middle of the previous night. On waking she realised that what had roused her were sounds and movements in her bedroom. She lived alone in her flat, and normally left her bedroom window open at night during the summer months. She was alarmed, fearing that there might be an intruder in her bedroom, so she switched on the bedside lamp. To her utter dismay, she found a black man standing before her in her bedroom. She screamed and the black man seeing that she had awakened, suddenly turned around, rushed to the open window, climbed out and vanished into the darkness, on to the roof of the kitchen extension of her building. She called the Police immediately, and some officers were sent to make sure that the woman was alright. Seeing that she was okay, the officers requested that she attend the police station in the morning to make a statement. In making this statement in writing at the police station, the woman opined that the black man in her bedroom bore a striking resemblance to the young son of the Somali family who lived next door to her. (Okay, I know all of these facts because I later got to read the statement that this woman gave to the Police. During their first visit to my office, Mrs G only told her son's side of the story).

Now, what Mrs G said to me during that first visit was that throughout his childhood, her son had suffered from somnambulism. He had been a sleepwalker, but that as he reached adolescence the incidence of sleepwalking had declined significantly. The family had been living in London since her son was about six years old, and as a child he had received medical treatment for the condition. She was surprised that his sleepwalking seemed to have resumed, although save for this present one there were no recent incidents that she knew of. She thought that her son might have been sleepwalking when he climbed out of their upstairs bathroom window in the middle of the night and made his way unto the roof of their patio extension. He must have crossed over to the roof of the neighbour's kitchen extension, crawled across that roof to the neighbour's upstairs bedroom window, which was open, and climbed into the neighbour's bedroom.

The son himself had no recollection of the incident. He told police that he did not remember climbing out of the bathroom window of their house. Mrs G said that her son's bedroom was down the corridor from hers and she had heard nothing. But his bedroom was directly next to the bathroom and going by the allegation made by the neighbour, she feared that her son might have done what he was now being accused of doing. I accepted the case because I thought this would be interesting. My client (A, the son) was due in court the next Monday morning,

Early Monday morning I arrived at Camberwell Magistrates Court and obtained the Advance Information documentation from the Crown prosecutor. He (or she) is obliged to make these available to me, wherein is contained the statement the victim made to the police and the statements of the police officers who had attended the scene. I also noted from the papers that the victim had subsequently positively identified my client as the "black man" she saw in her bedroom.

On the basis of the information contained in the Advance Information bundle I advised my client to plead "Not Guilty", which is what he did when the charge was read out to him in the crowded courtroom. Monday morning in any Magistrates Court is busy, because of the overnight cases from the previous weekend. Detained cases are given priority. These are mostly remorseful young men who let alcohol get the better of them during the Friday night and the Saturday night just gone. On this day there were a couple of wife bashers too, yes, you guessed right, one Jamaican and one Congolese..

Anyway, I said the courtroom was crowded, but half of the public gallery was taken up by what seemed like the entire adult Somali population of the borough where my client lives. I genuinely doubted that the prosecution would be able to prove, (to the standard of proof that is required), that my client
"broke into and entered the victim's dwelling place, with the intention of committing an offence", the legal definition of the crime 'breaking and entry', which is what my client was now charged with. I realised that the mental element, (the intent), was a crucial element of this offence and that the prosecution would have great difficulty proving that my client indeed climbed into his neighbour's bedroom, if at all, with the intention of doing something unlawful.

It was a 'Not Guilty' plea and so the matter was to be adjourned and a date set for trial. At this point I interjected, saying that my client would be relying on medical evidence in his defence. For this reason a reasonable period was required for the medical report to be obtained. I requested an adjournment for four weeks and my request was granted. The next date would be for a case management conference, for the court to assess the preparedness of the parties for trial.

Leaving court with me and surrounded by several loudly chattering Somali men and women, Mrs G was smiling, looking happier than I'd ever seen her before then. I shook many appreciative hands and I wondered why, since this was only the beginning of this case.

"Now to see to that medical report", I thought to myself, as I left them and headed back to the office... (To be continued)

Saturday, 24 April 2010

R I P DAGRIN

Living away from home as I've been doing for many years now, I haven't kept up with the Nigerian music scene as closely as I would have liked. But rapper DaGrin was good, indeed so good that he was nominated for several Hip Hop awards and was due to perform at his first international show next month.

Sadly, this 23 year old whose real name was Oladapo Olaitan Olanipekun passed away two days ago at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He died from serious injuries suffered in a ghastly car crash in which the car he was driving collided with a stationary articulated lorry in the dead of night on 14 April, about a week before. He was rushed to hospital, but all efforts to save his life were unsuccessful.

Its difficult not to think that if the infrastructure in Nigeria had been in a better state, this accident might not have occurred. This was a young man, with a brilliant future ahead of him, a future that was not to be. A sad story indeed. May his soul rest in peace.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Whatever happened to that goat...errm, armed robber?

Early last year many of us heard/read about the goat that was arrested by Kwara State Police in Nigeria. At the time of the report in January 2009, the goat was held in custody in a cell at a police station in Ilorin the Kwara State capital.

Okay, for anyone who didn't already know, these are the facts of the story: A vigilante group were chasing two men who they suspected were armed robbers. It is alleged that the two armed men had attempted to snatch a Mazda car from its rightful owner. Both fled when accosted by the vigilantes and while one of the men escaped, the second man stood with his back against a wall and transformed from a human being into a goat. The vigilantes quickly captured the goat and took it to the police station, alleging that the goat was the man who they believed was an armed robber. The Police then promptly arrested the goat and the Vanguard Newspaper of Nigeria published a photo of the said goat when it was paraded before journalists by the Kwara State Police. Below is a reference to that report in the Vanguard, just in case you don't believe me..

goat

Anyway, as stated in the excerpt above, (although having read the Vanguard report myself, I know that that report stated that it was in Ilorin, Kwara State that this is said to have occurred), the story was widely reported in the international media, even by the BBC no less. Here too and here and here. And there are several others too many to point to.

I'll put this down to to the fact that the Nigeria Police has been unable to guarantee any degree of security for Nigerians. And consequently, many citizens are having to rely on untrained and often uneducated civilian vigilantes to provide the security that is so badly needed. Also, there is the fact that with little education comes the likelihood that many of these people are superstitious. And although, as the BBC reports, the Nigeria Police attempted to debunk claims that the policemen proudly paraded the goat before journalists, there can be no denying the fact that levels of education among the members of the Nigeria Police Force too, leaves much to be desired.

Alright, what has prompted me to revive this old story? Well, its just that since after the worldwide sensation that this story caused, nothing more has been heard from the Kwara State Police about that goat armed robber. Has anyone else wondered, as I am doing, about what happened to that goat? My guess is that it is most likely the goat has ended its criminal lifestyle in the manner appearing hereunder, as goat suya.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Another Icelandic explosion?

We have just seen more than 100,000 flights grounded across Europe and a beleaguered airline industry frantically trying to restore to itself the confidence of hundreds of thousands of hapless, stranded travellers. We have witnessed perishable fresh produce rotting away in warehouses in far flung locations such as in the Caribbean, South America and Africa, for want of transport to consumer markets in Europe. Businesses and schools have been disrupted, business meetings have been cancelled.

And all this because one relatively small volcano in Iceland erupted in icy conditions, causing huge volumes of ash to be produced, the ash cloud rising high into the atmosphere. The wind direction too by coincidence was such that it guaranteed that this ash cloud would drift across most of northern Europe. One week later, we are only now just starting to breathe a sigh of relief that this immense disruption has come to an end. But there is another fact that we must be aware of.

And the fact is this: A far bigger Icelandic volcano, Katla, is tipped to erupt in the following months, potentially causing much more severe and sustained disruption to industry and to society as a whole. Eyjafjallajokul erupted last week and records show that each time Eyjafjallajokul has erupted in the last 2,000 years - in the year 920, in 1612 and between 1821 and 1823, Katla has exploded within six months.

The ash from the Eyjafjallajokul eruption was sent to such high altitudes because the ice on top of the mountain melted as the volcano erupted and the mixture of cold melt water and lava caused explosions, which in turn shot the volcanic ash high up into the air. The ash cloud drifted far across Europe because of the high altitude to which the ash had been shot.

Katla however is ten times the size of Eyjafjallajokul, with a correspondingly larger ice field. Were Katla to erupt, there undoubtedly will be shot high into the atmosphere larger amounts of ash than we saw with Eyjafjallajokul, with even more serious disruption the likely outcome, if the winds were blowing in roughly the same direction as with the recent Eyjafjallajokul eruption.

"I certainly wouldn't be surprised if Katla erupted within the next year, but how much it affects Britain and northern Europe depends on what happens with the winds at the time," the volcanologist Bill McGuire told The Independent newspaper.

Bill McGuire is a professor of earth sciences at UCL and widely accepted as one of Britain's leading volcanologists, whose main interests include monitoring volcanoes and global geophysical events. He is a bona fide authority on the subject of volcanoes and his advice is for airlines to start from now to draw up contingency plans. However, it is obvious that not very much can be done if the airspace is taken over by a volcanic ash cloud. What perhaps businesses could consider is to stock up on supplies early on. And travellers could have a rethink about whether they really need to make that trip.

There are jokes being passed around that the volcanic ash is a hidden agenda by the Green movement to limit unnecessary flights. Some have even said that the ash cloud is Iceland's reprisal against Britain for demanding repayment from Iceland of the billions of pounds paid by the British government in compensation to customers of Iceland's failed banks...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Mother Nature clears her throat

Lightning streaks across the sky as lava flows ...

Reuters

Lighting seen amid the lava and ash erupting ...

AP

Mother Nature clears her throat and we humans, in all our arrogance, are humbled.

The bolts of lightning appearing in the plume of the ash-spewing Eyjafjallajokull volcano are pretty to look at, but the truth is that the process that creates this kind of lightning in erupting volcanoes remains something of a mystery. Lightning, which is usually associated with severe weather such as thunderstorms, hurricanes and the like, is also produced by the rolling debris clouds of volcanoes.

It is thought that the lightning in a volcanic plume is connected to the rotation that these hot gases and ash undergo, sort of like a tornado. As a plume rotates, it can spawn waterspouts or dust devils, which gather together the electric charges in the plume to form a sheath of lightning.

Lol, I'm not an expert obviously, but I've been doing some reading and you can join me by having a look at this site.

All in all, this ash cloud business has become rather a nuisance. I did see a few vapour trails of aircraft flying over London today, but the explanation came when I heard that some other European countries had opened their airspace to aviation and that these were aircraft flying across Britain from the European continent, possibly towards North America and vice versa. I learnt also that a few airports in Scotland and the north of England and in Northern Ireland had opened, but only very few aircraft movements had been reported.

Then I was pleased this evening to hear of several British Airways long-haul flights from all around the world headed for London, even though UK airspace remained officially closed and many of the earlier flights bound for London had been diverted to Madrid instead, from where weary travellers were left to make their own way across Spain and France to the channel port of Calais so as to board a ferry to Dover, (if they could manage to get a place on the ferry that is).

But there was then a report that a BA 747 had just touched down at Heathrow, with live footage to boot. Shortly after these pictures were shown, the 10 O'clock news, which had begun with the announcement that UK airspace was still closed and was not expected to reopen before tomorrow morning, ended with the surprising announcement that the airspace was now officially open. What a difference half an hour can make!

So now, we should all feel better that the end to this chaos is finally in sight. But lets not ignore the important lessons that this has taught us, the first being that the world is totally unprepared for an event such as this. Especially, when one considers that this Icelandic volcano is only a minor volcano.

Monday, 19 April 2010

God bless you, you're doing a great job..

"You're doing a great job, thanks and God bless you. Your special number today was powerful and I believe that your ministration on Sunday will be even more powerful..." is the text of the SMS I received from the pastor of my church last Saturday. Its not the first time either that he has commended my efforts as leader of the choir. Sometime ago, I blogged about my appointment as choir leader in January this year. At first it was daunting, the prospect of managing the complex affairs of a choir. But I dug into my role with gusto and have found myself actually enjoying it.

I am in charge of a group of choristers many of who are married women with small children, who also have jobs. So there is the fact that members of the choir often times cannot find the time to attend choir practice, (small children can be such a handful sometimes). Then there are issues concerning childcare, family commitments and so forth, and it hasn't been an easy ride for me. But I've been open and honest with them about the fact that I am quite inexperienced at this. And by appearing to be naive I've somehow warmed my way into their hearts apparently, because all the members seem to be much more enthusiastic about the choir now than I remember them ever being. And this enthusiasm shows too when the choir ministers during the church services.

I think this might have something to do with the fact that soon after my appointment as leader, I delegated various responsibilities to different members. Also, I have been careful to always seek their opinions, listen to their suggestions and defer to the judgement of the more experienced choristers when making decisions. Such that each of them feel as if they are actively participating in the decision making and any previous resentment about my appointment as leader appears now to have dissipated.

It was my idea that rather than attending for choir practice on Saturdays and losing our Saturday evenings, we should instead meet for practice after service on Sunday, a time when I calculated that everyone would be in a good mood. This idea has turned out to be quite popular, hence the improvement in the quality of our performance. It is still my job to choose which song(s) the choir would sing at the Sunday service, teach the song to the choir if necessary and direct the music. But I'm not complaining, because I genuinely love doing this. For next Sunday I have picked this delectable song...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Zimbabwe, 30 years under Mugabe

On April 18th 1980, the Union Flag came down in Harare and the last Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Lord Soames, transfered executive power to the first Prime Minister of independent Zimbabwe. On the thirtieth anniversary of Zimbabwean "freedom", how is it working out?



This article is reproduced here with copyright permission from Independent News and Media Limited. You should read Mark Steyn's take on the Zimbabwe story too, which some think might be closer to the reality on the ground in Harare...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What to do with my Wednesday?

I don't know if this happens to others too, but there are days when I just do not feel like doing anything serious, such as work! And this is just one of such days..So I am seated at my desk now typing this post, thinking about how best I can spend the rest of today outside the office.

I want to put aside all those worries about money and about work. My job is such that its impossible to leave it behind at the office when you go home, since the work is mostly about intellectual and mental input. So in one's mind one is constantly joggling different strategies and possibilities in respect of every single client's case in which one is involved. And of these there are several.

Okay, there's Mrs M who later this morning should be arriving to unload some cash into the office coffers. So for this reason alone, I shall endure until I've attended to her and shown her out.. Then I shall suddenly develop a severe headache that demands urgent medical attention. And then I shall make my escape..

London on a typical weekday morning is terribly unexciting, and I might very well find myself eventually back at home in front of the telly. But at the moment, even that seems more interesting than sitting here in this office. But I must first of all treat myself to something special at that Chinese place on the Charing Cross Road. Some roast duck at round about noontime sounds just perfect. Then, as much as I dislike shopping, I think perhaps that is what I should do. I haven't been to
Jermyn Street for a while, so I'll go there. And I'll try to be careful, so that by the time I'm done and making my way back to Piccadilly Circus tube station on my way home, I'm neither hefting bags of shopping, nor am I several hundred pounds poorer. Oh, but there are the t-shirts for summer that I'd wanted to get for John and those jeans, the ones I've been putting off buying for myself for years..

Suddenly, it looks as if this day is going to be more interesting after all than I'd thought...

Monday, 12 April 2010

General Babangida must NOT become President of Nigeria

It is being reported that a spokesman for General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has told the international media that General Babangida will run for president in the 2011 presidential poll after seeking the nomination of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Personally, I cannot think of a more inappropriate candidate for the presidency of Nigeria. If the PDP candidate must be from northern Nigeria, there is a multitude of Nigerians from the north who are better qualified than General Babangida and whose reputations are not tarnished in the way that Babangida's is.

As my friend and fellow blogger Akin so aptly put it, "New Blood NOT Incredibly Bad Blood" is what Nigeria needs at this moment for the country's leadership. "General Babangida is incredibly bad blood" Akin states, and I am in complete agreement. It was under Babangida's tenure as president that corruption became endemic in Nigeria, the economy deteriorated and democracy was shoved aside. In fact, it was on the back of Babangida that the evil Abacha regime came to power.

Nigeria as a nation is already in a weakened state, due largely to the inept and incompetent leadership of recent years, a malaise that potentially will only be exacerbated by a Babangida presidency.

Given that sycophants abound in Nigeria, many of who were enriched and thereby empowered by Babangida and his evil progeny Abacha, and who therefore are today in positions of power and influence, I am justified in my fear that the voices of millions of concerned Nigerians will be ignored; those who like me dread the return to power of the "Evil Genius", (a nickname Babangida gave himself). Shockingly, Babangida on his website even refers to himself as "Nigeria's Best President". May God help us...

You may want to read this interesting piece written by Sola Salako.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Gay Professor who died..


Photo courtesy of The Hindu

Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras was a professor at Aligarh Muslim University in India (and here). At age 64, he was Reader and Chair of Modern Indian Languages at the university. The university suspended him from its employ for "misonduct" and "immoral sexual acivity" in the privacy of his home, based on a video where he had been, without consent, filmed having gay sex. The university started an inquiry against him and also forced him out of his university accommodation.

The police registered the various offences committed against Dr Siras including criminal intimidation, assault, trespass and wrongful confinement only when pressure was brought upon them. Last week, upon an application by Dr Siras, the Allahabad High Court had stayed his suspension, ordered his reinstatement and the return to him of his accommodation. On 7 April, he was found dead in mysterious circumstances. He had been dead for 2-3 days apparently.

According to GayTalkRadio, the professor is reported as telling The Indian Express newspaper, which claimed that it had spoken to the professor on Monday after the ban was lifted, "I want to go to America, I want to teach Marathi. Not the literature, the language. America is the only place where I will be free to be gay." On Wednesday he was found dead at his home.

Indian gay NGOs are now circulating a petition calling on the Indian President to delve more profoundly into the case. Click here to view (and sign?) the petition.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Even after death, abuse against gays continues

Even death cannot stop the violence against gays in Africa any more.

Madieye Diallo's body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the weedy cemetery with shovels. They yanked out the corpse, spit on its torso, dragged it away and dumped it in front of the home of his elderly parents.

The scene on 2 May 2009 was filmed on a cell phone and the video sold at the market. It passed from phone to phone, sowing panic among gay men who say they now feel like hunted animals.

"I locked myself inside my room and didn't come out for days", says a 31-year-old gay friend of Diallo's who is ill with HIV. "I am afraid of what will happen to me after I die. Will my parents be able to bury me?"

A wave of intense homophobia is washing across Africa, where homosexuality is already illegal in at least 37 countries. In the last year alone, gay men have been arrested in Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that would sentence homosexuals to life in prison and include capital punishment for 'repeat offenders'. And in South Africa the only country that recognises gay rights, gangs have carried out so called "corrective" rape on lesbians.

"Across many parts of Africa we've seen a rise in homophobic violence", says London-based gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, whose organisation tracks abuse against gays and lesbians in Africa. "Its been steadily building up for the last 10 years but has got markedly worse in the last year."

To the long list of abuse meted out to suspected homosexuals in Africa, Senegal has added a new form of degradation, the desecration of their bodies. In the past two years, at least four men suspected of being gay have been exhumed by angry mobs in cemeteries in Senegal. The violence is especially shocking because Senegal, unlike other countries in the region, is considered a model of tolerance.

"Its jarring to see this happen in Senegal," says Ryan Thoreson, a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has been researching the rise of homophobia here. "When something like this happens in an established democracy, its alarming."

Even though homosexuality is illegal in Senegal, colonial documents indicate that the country has long held a clandestine gay community. In many towns, they were tacitly accepted, says Cheikh Ibrahima Niang, a professor of social anthropology at Senegal's largest university. In fact, the visibility of gays in Senegal may have helped to prompt the backlash against them.

The backlash dates back to at least February 2008, when a Senegalese tabloid published photographs of a clandestine gay wedding in a suburb in Dakar, the capital. The wedding was held inside a rented banquet hall and was attended by dozens of gay men. Some of them snapped pictures that included the gay couple exchanging rings and sharing slices of cake.

The day after the tabloid published the photographs, police began rounding up men suspected of being homosexual. Some were beaten in captivity and forced to turn over the names of other gay men, according to research by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Gays immediately went into hiding and those who could fled to neighbouring countries, including Gambia to the south, according to the New York based commission. Gambia's erratic president declared that gays who had entered his country had 24 hours to leave or face decapitation. Many returned to Senegal, where they lived on the run, moving from safe-house to safe-house.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A tribute..

Malcolm McLaren died today of cancer at age 64. He was formerly the manager of the Sex Pistols, the band responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. In 1971 McLaren and his girlfriend, designer Vivienne Westwood opened a clothes shop on the Kings Road in London. The shop called 'Let it Rock' proved a success and the couple designed clothing for theatrical and cinematic productions.

By 1976 McLaren had started to manage the band that was later to be known as The Sex Pistols. Later he also managed Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow among others. In 1983 McLaren released Duck Rock, an album with mixed up influences from Africa and the Americas, including hip-hop. Two of the singles from the album, Double Dutch and Buffalo Gals became top ten hits in the UK. My favourite track is Soweto. And although it wasn't easy deciding which of his songs to honour him with on this blog, since they were all great songs, I couldn't help posting Soweto. There are two versions of Soweto available on YouTube. For better sound quality listen to it here. He will be greatly missed..

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?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Birthday blues..

Another birthday, another day. Another figure added to my age. Birthdays are supposed to be happy, hence the "Happy Birthday" that we say. Of course I've received Happy Birthday text messages from the few who remembered that today is my birthday, even though strangely I am one who never forgets anyone's birthday. But I'm okay with that.

This birthday however is different from previous birthdays. My birthday this year coincides with the Easter holiday and it should feel special. But it doesn't. Perhaps its to do with the fact that one is crossing the threshold into middle age. And the scheduled appointment with the Grim Reaper seems just that bit closer, when there are so many goals and targets that one has set for oneself that are as yet unattained. Its Easter Monday and I have received more Easter greetings than I've received birthday wishes.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that I have been granted the years that I have lived through thus far. And John. Oh, John! I am grateful too that I have John in my life. For the first time ever I can feel secure and confident in a relationship; the love that we share, John and I. There is now someone in my life to whom I can entrust the safety of my heart. And its easy to guess from who I received my sole birthday present. If only John had happened ten years ago. If only...

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Out of the closet..

I always knew that I was not going to remain in the closet forever. Indeed, as I reached adulthood and became even more comfortable with myself, I itched restlessly to communicate my inner sexual feelings to those around me.

The ideal situation would be if everybody, everywhere, was open-minded enough to understand that human sexuality is a bit more complicated than many assume it is. In those circumstances, being gay would be normal; heterosexual people would not feel threatened by homosexuality and gay and lesbian people could live happily, participating openly in the world around them. But unfortunately, that utopia remains firmly remote and exotic, nothing more than an imaginary Shangri-la. And especially so when viewed in the context of the African society where I found myself in my younger years. But my life is not imaginary, neither is my sexuality.

The reality is that regardless of the intolerance that Africa's homosexuals have to contend with, there are homosexual men and women in African societies, whether or not our societies acknowledge this fact and/or accept it. Expressing disgust and treating confirmed homosexual people with contempt is not synchronous with eliminating homosexuality. Indeed, to eradicate homosexuality is impossible, since homosexuality is just a naturally occurring variation of the expression of sexual feelings that are intrinsic to the nature of us all as human beings.

It is a fact that denying homosexual people the right to live their lives as they ought to is detrimental to society itself. The mental health of some homosexual people is affected, with a concomitant negative effect on their productive capacity as members of the community. Their specific health needs are ignored, whereas in truth, the majority of homosexual African men are involved in heterosexual relationships, mostly in an attempt to conform with society's expectations. And the involvement in heterosexual relationships by homosexual men of necessity implies that their specific health needs are quite more important that many African governments are willing to acknowledge.

I will try to elucidate as best as I can what I perceive to be the misjudgement of homosexual people by the majority of Africans. These are mistakes that are often made when people in Africa respond to calls for recognition by homosexual Africans:
  • Firstly, homosexuality is not a 'lifestyle'.
  • Secondly, gay people do not choose their sexuality.
  • Homosexuality is not a 'practice'.
  • Homosexuality in males is not equivalent to the physical act of penetrative anal sexual intercourse.
  • Homosexuality is a part of human sexuality. It is not a commodity capable of being transported across international borders.
The word "lifestyle" is defined here as: "the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group".

I shall use the following illustration to clarify my point:

Let us think about the 'habits', 'tastes', 'moral standards' and 'economic status' of a gay African man, who is well educated, probably holding a post-graduate degree, the Director of a successful international business conglomerate with offices in an African capital city, who lives primarily in Africa, but who for pleasure and in his line of work is privileged to enjoy foreign travel; who is in a monogamous long-term relationship with his male partner (albeit this must remain a closely guarded secret).

Let us then imagine what might be the tastes, habits, moral standards and economic circumstances of a lorry driver who prefers to have sex with men; but who being the oldest among his siblings, is "expected to carry on the family name". So he is married to a woman, who he conveniently leaves at home while he goes on his long lorry driving trips from city to city, availing himself of the relative freedom and opportunity that his job offers to liaise with various men in various locations. Some of the men he meets are male sex workers. (There are places where men can meet other men in many African cities, despite the hostility that surrounds them).

These are just two hypothetical, but realistic, examples of possible circumstances of gay men in Africa. It is possible to describe numerous other scenarios, but the point being made here is that in no way can the lifestyles of these two individuals described above be said to be similar. Indeed, the respective lifestyles of the two men could hardly be more unalike. Yet they are both gay, both African and both living in Africa.

I am quick to tell people I meet in African chat rooms on the Internet that I am a gay man. It is anonymous in the chat room, so no one feels threatened, and I like to watch for a reaction to this 'news'. Some would just shrug it off and move on. However, an unsurprisingly large number would make an odious remark at first, but some would then become interested to chat with me, seeking to know how a gay person feels. But not without first asking the question, "So when did you become gay? Or something like, "So why did you choose to be gay?" Well, the simple answer to both questions is, "I didn't!"

I did not become gay at any time. I still have not heard a heterosexual person tell me WHEN he or she became straight, or WHY they chose to become straight. You did not become straight, because you have always been straight. You did not choose to be heterosexual. You just found that you are. The same applies to me. I don't understand why some people find it difficult to grasp the notion that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. Is it not preposterous that I would make the deliberate choice to be gay, being fully aware of the attitude towards same-sex love in the society that I grew up in?

They argue that when I love a man, it is against Nature. But I put this down to the arrogance of mankind. Who are we as humans to question Mother Nature, speak for her, or dictate to her? It is my nature to love a man. Don't ask me why, ask Mother Nature the question.

(I will continue with this post later. I'm reticent to make it overly lengthy) See Part 2 here.

A wonderful Easter to you..



Concerto for flute & harp in C, K.299

By Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Erykah Badu faces misdemeanor charge for nude walk



A Dallas Police spokeswoman said earlier in the week that they wanted to press charges against Badu because children were present, but no one had called police or filed a complaint that day.

Police now have their witness.

"One witness did come forward yesterday, thus leading to the charges filed today," a statement from Dallas Police said Friday.

A citation of misdemeanor disorderly conduct has been mailed to Badu, who is a Dallas resident, police said. Read more...