Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Appeal for Guest Contributions..

Dear Readers, Commenters, Visitors and Others,

My apologies that I have not blogged in ages. I've been preoccupied with stuff that takes my mind far away from the blogosphere. And even when I've had a moment to spare, creativity has somehow eluded me..

This appeal is for you (especially my African brothers and sisters and others of African descent) to send guest contributions for this blog to anengiyefa1@yahoo.com or anengiyefa@gmail.com. Your contributions will be posted on the blog and the idea is to keep the blog relevant, exciting and as a venue in cyberspace for expressing our views on the issues that affect us and about which we feel strongly.

There is no requirement for guest contributors to disclose their identity, as anonymous contributions will be attributed to Anonymous Guest Contributor(s). The only requirement is that your contribution is relevant. However, it may be preferable that a guest contributor has an online profile to which readers may refer..

Wishing you all a great festive season ahead..

Anengiyefa

Friday, 12 November 2010

African Roar 2011 selections..

I have reproduced this posting which first appeared on Ivor W. Hartman. Ivor had already notified me privately that I am one of the authors whose stories have been selected for the 2011 edition of African Roar, an eclectic anthology of short fiction by African writers. See here too.

"African Roar 2011 Selections

It gives us (Emmanuel Sigauke and Ivor W. Hartman) great pleasure to announce the selections for the next annual StoryTime anthology African Roar 2011. Congratulations to all who made it through the selection process, and thank you to everyone who entered!

Chanting Shadows by Mbonisi P. Ncube

The Times by Dango Mkandawire

Out of Memory by Emmanuel Iduma

Masvingo neCarpet Thamsanqa Ncube

Diner Ten by Ivor W. Hartmann

Missing a Thing of Beauty by Abigail George

Water Wahala by Isaac Neequaye

Longing for Home by Hajira Amla

Snakes Will Follow You by Emmanuel Sigauke

The Echo of Silence Delta Law Milayo Ndou

Snake of the Niger Delta by Chimdindu Mazi-Njoku

The Saxophonist by Anengiyefa

Letter to my Son by Joy Isi Bewaji

Waiting for April by Damilola Ajayi

A Writer's Lot by Zukiswa Wanner

Witch's Brew by Stanely Ruzvidzo Mupfudza

To the Woods with a Girl by Masimba Musodza

Silent Night, Bloody Night by Ayodele Morocco-Clarke

Lose Myself by Uche Peter Umez

Uncle Jeffrey by Murenga Joseph Chikowero

Because of my Wife by Kenechukwu Obi

The Orange Barn by Sarudzai Mubvakure

PS: The various parts of my story are posted on this blog. The easiest way to find them is by using the search tool on this page.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Out of the closet 2

This post is a follow-on to a previous post on this blog.

One often hears and reads of people referring to homosexuality as an "act" or a "practice" and in a mildly sarcastic way, one has wondered whether in using the word "practice" they are perhaps suggesting that gay people are practising to be gay, in the same way that a football team practices in readiness for the next big match; or whether, (as I think they really mean), they refer to homosexuality as a practice because the idea of homosexuality for them revolves wholly around a single sex act. Let us get one thing straight. There is homosexuality, and then there is homosexual sex. These are two different things.

Homosexuality goes to the orientation and the disposition, to the mind and feelings of the individual. Homosexual sex on the other hand is physical sex between two (or more) persons of the same gender. And although homosexual sex acts are in many cases performed by individuals of a homosexual disposition, it is the case that even those who are not normally homosexually inclined are known to engage in homosexual sex acts in situations where the opportunity for sex with the opposite sex is absent. We have all heard stories about what goes on in prisons where men, who otherwise would have no sexual desire towards other men, engage in rampant homosexual sex with other male prisoners. These men have not become homosexuals just for the fact that they have engaged in sexual acts with other males. In actuality they are not homosexuals at all, since they would opt for sex with females rather than with males had they the option.

Given the inauspiciousness that surrounds homosexuality, it is hard for me to understand the assumption by many that gay people have somehow wilfully chosen to be gay; that they have deliberately chosen to subject themselves to all that hatefulness and resentment. I am not an expert on human sexuality and do not claim to be one, but common-sense makes it perfectly clear to me that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. And although I have no wish to pretend to be more knowledgeable than I actually am, I find it bewildering that so many others have failed to come to the same realisation.

Which brings me back to the title of this post.

Am I out of the closet? Well, I suppose this depends on what 'the closet' is. Wikipedia offers the definition for the terms 'closeted' and 'in the closet' as, "..metaphors used to describe a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person who has not disclosed his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.."

Insofar as this definition of 'the closet' is limited only to the non-disclosure of sexual orientation and insofar as this description does not include pretending not to be gay, then I will accept that perhaps for a time during my teenage years I was in the closet. The reality for me though has been that I have never really experienced any such thing as the closet. If at all there were times when I failed to disclose my sexual orientation, it was either because I did not think it was necessary to do so, or because at the time I lacked the intellectual maturity to face the possible consequences of doing so.

Looking back now I can only imagine how odd I must have seemed to my friends and peers back then, since I would hardly ever join them in talking about girls, or join them in their amorous activities. In those days, well before the advent of the Internet, it was nigh on impossible to make contact with others of a similar disposition in a place like Nigeria, especially when one was from a sheltered home as I was. But even if I did not disclose it, I never at any time pretended to be anything other than gay, being a one who thinks of any form of pretence or hypocrisy as highly repugnant.

It is true, I am now present in a country where I have no need to fear physical attack simply because of the pugnacious bellicosity of some others who might think of my sexuality as being resentfully displeasing. In this respect I suppose I have been fortunate so far, although it remains the case that the predominance of my social contact is with those of a similar ethnic and cultural background to me. But even then, I am able to pick and choose with whom I engage in social contact, unlike back in Nigeria where the socio-cultural circumstances are such that the individual has little or no control over who he must associate with.

With this in mind, perhaps I have been guilty in recent times of failing to fully appreciate the precariousness of the situation for those who are like me, but who are living in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa either by choice or of necessity. Perhaps, living away from home has caused me to become less sensitive to their vulnerability. I mean, I am able to without fear, write about my sexuality on this blog, using my real name. It is doubtless that there are those who will come across this blog and be utterly shocked. But for me it has been easy; my sexual orientation is not something that I have any reason to be ashamed of. And living in the UK as I currently do, I am protected from any unpleasant maliciously motivated acts by those who might be so inclined. Of course I'm aware of the issues concerning my reputation back at home in Nigeria, but I remain firm in my conviction that my sexual orientation is not a problem and that it is they who are homophobic, who by their homophobia are possessed of a problem that requires a solution.

A few days ago, Gayuganda (Gug) a long-standing friend of mine and a champion of the struggle for gay rights in Uganda, gave an interview to CNN on the recent exposing of gay men in that country's tabloid newspapers, which lay the men open to danger. Gug has now for years been blogging on the issue of gay rights with particular reference to Uganda, but has all along chosen to remain anonymous. Protecting his identity was sensible, given the unrivalled levels of homophobia that have been displayed in that country. In giving this interview, Gug was filmed and half of his face was broadcast to television screens right around the world, including of course Uganda, where he lives, works and is well known. It was only the lower half of his face, but it was quite easy to identify him, especially if one already knew him in person.

When I saw the interview on CNN and knowing how brave Gug has always been, my assumption was that he was aware that his anonymity was going to be blown, but that this was another brave and bold step forward in the struggle for recognition and acceptance. My thinking was that there are other gay Ugandans and indeed other gay Africans living in Africa who have openly declared their sexuality. Indeed, David Kuria a gay Kenyan gentleman is running for Senate in his country. Gug posted the CNN interview on his blog and in responding to it, I left a comment to the effect that there is only so much to be achieved if one remains anonymous, suggesting and expressing the view that coming out boldly could only be a positive thing.

However, now when I think about it I remember that, "Keeping our anonymity is the only thing that we have.." were among the words that Gug said during the interview in responding to a question and also, "I don't put my name on the blog because I don't want to be killed.."

In responding to my comment in a subsequent post on his blog, Gug pointed out that the CNN reporter had assured him that his anonymity would be intact and now that I know different, I feel some remorse. I put it down to what I was saying earlier about me in my mind possibly experiencing some disconnection from the reality of being gay in Africa, becoming less sensitive to the very real threats that gay people face on my home continent. I have expressed my apologies to Gug. Perhaps in my fervour to see change come about, I have been overly optimistic. But even then, I remain of the view that remaining in the closet indefinitely cannot be the way forward. Peace..

Friday, 5 November 2010

Yetunde's blog..


A couple of weeks ago, my neighbour who attends the same church as I do gave me some food to take home. In the food container that she handed to me was ayemashe (or ayamashe), a particularly spicy but extremely delicious traditional stew of the Ijebu people, among Nigeria's Yoruba population. Its not unusual for me to receive gifts of food from ladies at church, since perhaps they think that not having a wife must mean that I am under-nourished. They seem to have a desire to ensure that I receive proper nourishment and get all the vitamins that I need. Well, I don't know anyone who turns down perfectly good, home-cooked food when its so freely offered. And I do not wish to be the first person I know who does. So of course such gifts are gladly (and gratefully) accepted, even if the ultimate benefit to me is that I'm spared having to shop for and cook food until all that free food has run out. This last time it was ayemashe.

Ayemashe is unique and for me while growing up it was a mystery. Nothing that we ate at home, at our friends' or relatives' houses, at parties, or anywhere, even came close to tasting like ayemashe, a greenish-brownish stew with little pieces of meat in it, which is usually served with white rice. For many years it was offered mainly at small, informal eating places known as buka, (or bukateria, a play on the word cafeteria), and was available with rice for a small amount. For me, ayemashe was a delicacy that was consumed only once in a while. It seemed to me that only a relatively small number of people knew how to prepare it, and that they kept their secret close to their chests.

I have recently observed however that ayemashe has become more readily available and is served at many Nigerian restaurants at home and abroad, sometimes appearing on the menu as "designer stew", (No 22 on this menu). What this means of course is that more and more people have learned how to cook it. So after joyfully consuming all of the ayemashe that Bisola (my neighbour) gave me, the next time we were in the car together on the way home from church I asked her for the recipe, which when it was revealed to me turned out to be surprisingly simple. And from that moment on I was determined to cook ayemashe for myself, but I thought I should search online to see if anyone else had done something similar and posted it. In doing so I happened upon Yetunde's blog, which I must admit I'm now totally hooked on.

The photo at the top of this post is ayemashe on rice, but its not mine. It's borrowed from Avartsy Cooking, Yetunde's blog. I haven't summoned the courage to cook mine yet, but going through her blog has opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities and the kitchen beckons now more strongly than ever before. I should be keeping you posted..

Monday, 1 November 2010

Ugandan High Court restrains tabloid..

After a Ugandan tabloid newspaper for the second time published the names and photos of 14 men it identified as gay men in a country where homosexuality can lead to persecution and lengthy jail terms and has even prompted calls for the death sentence, a gay rights group countered by today obtaining an injunction from Uganda's High Court blocking any further publication of similar material. In a previous edition, the tabloid pictured 15 men it alleged were gay. Then, the publication also quoted an unnamed religious leader calling for gays to be hanged, but the most recent issue did not advocate violence.

The lead article in the Rolling Stone newspaper (no relation to the US magazine by the same name) entitled "Men of Shame Part II", pictured 14 men identified as "generals" of the gay movement in Uganda. Says editor Giles Muhame "They published their pictures on a gay networking website, so that was enough evidence for us," adding that the paper did not contact the men before publishing their pictures.

In the paper's Editorial, editor Muhame explained his paper's motivation for focussing on homosexuality..

"A cross-section of heartless homosexuals is seriously recruiting and brainwashing unsuspecting kids into gay circles.."

When queried by AFP Muhame admitted that he had no evidence that the 14 identified men were involved with youths, but he believed exposing them had "news value".

The gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) secured a court injunction restraining The Rolling Stone newspaper from publishing any similar material. Justice Vincent Musoke-Kibuuka of the Kampala High Court upon an application by SMUG granted an "interim Order restraining Rolling Stone (or any affiliated publication) from any further publication of the identity of any person perceived by them to be gay, lesbian or homosexual."

Justice Musoke-Kibuuka referred to the editorial material as "an infringement or invasion of the right to privacy" of the individuals identified. A further hearing is scheduled for 23 November.

The paper did not secure the services of a legal representative and there was no lawyer present in court on their behalf. Agence France Presse confirms that when they notified Muhame of the court's ruling he was defiant, saying..

"We will publish more pictures but in a diplomatic way, so that we can dodge the law. We might not name them as homos, but the public will know what they are."

By the way, Rolling Stone is not a licensed newspaper and had been instructed since last month to desist from publishing until it receives its licence from the Uganda Media Council. Muhame confirmed that the paper had not yet received its licence but decided to publish regardless.

Commenting on his blog in a piquant post about the exposing of gays by the Rolling Stone newspaper, fellow blogger AfroGay pointed out that in Uganda exposing gay people in tabloid newspapers is not new. However, this has never succeeded in bringing about the desired mass uprising of the people against those identified. If anything, what has occurred is that the plight of the gay and lesbian people of Uganda and of much of sub-Saharan Africa continues to be highlighted in the consciousness of the world, adding momentum to the drive for change.

To my surprise Giles Muhame himself responded by leaving a comment on AfroGay's blog post. But from his comment it becomes apparent that despite the jeopardy that their contemptible publications bring upon innocent gay people, despite their high sounding moralistic claims, including this CNN interview in which Muhame insists that reports that gay people have been attacked after being exposed in his newspaper are "all lies", the likes of Muhame and his newspaper as well as others like it, are motivated solely by money.

Read more here and here.