Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A stalker..

Its been over two years when I first observed that a certain individual who lives in the same city as I do, has been frequently performing Google searches with the search word "anengiyefa", my name, a search that would inevitably lead him to this blog. 

Anyone who owns a blog knows how to keep track of his visitors, so I have noticed every single visit this individual has made to this blog. I can tell that this has been the same person, because he consistently uses the same IP address. I can also tell that this person has something to do with the London Borough of Merton Adult & Community Learning and/or the Borough of Lambeth. And I say this person is a "he", because its safe to assume that this is a man, since much of the time, women are more sensible than this person has shown himself to be. 

Save for some mild curiosity as to who this might be who apparently has such great interest in me, these visits haven't bothered me that much. His last visit was yesterday at 3:21pm, when he arrived on the blog via my Twitter account, having used the link to this blog that appears on that account. So it is clear that he checks out my Twitter updates as well. The visit previous to yesterday's was sometime last week, when he arrived on the blog having done a Google search using the search words "latest news on anengiyefa" . It was when I saw this that I reckoned I'd have to speak up about this and write this post, since I know that sooner or later he would invariably stop by and get to read what I have to say.

I am not inaccessible and we both live in London. My email address appears on the right hand column of this blog. Rather than creeping around in the shadows constantly doing Google searches for me spanning over a period of years, it isn't that difficult to drop me an email. You might even get to chat with me, if you're lucky :). No really, this is now becoming a bit creepy and is starting to make me feel slightly uneasy.. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Romantic men, 1920s  Word Game
Word Game 
For the most part, gay men in the far distant past didn't use words like "lover" or phrases like "he is my boyfriend." Rather, signs of intimacy or a relationship were more subtle.

Gay Drag-Cakewalk Dance, 1900

Drag-Cakewalk Dance, 1900

 Comic Postcard-1930s

Comic Postcard-1930s 
Yes, it is unflattering in its depiction of African people. Yes, it is a caricature. Yes, it is a stereotype. Yes, it is undoubtedly RACIST! The postcard is from the 1930s. It dates back to a time when Europe disregarded ethnic and tribal boundaries and divided Africa up into colonies where land and people were exploited. 

More adult oriented postcards from the era that were distributed privately among like minded individuals were more risqué than the above card. In their depictions of same-sex behaviour, typically shown were African males with huge sexual appendages dominating willing European males----a preferred iconography largely still in existence today. (Side Note: In gay mainstream and general mainstream media, there is a phobia of showing men of African descent romantically involved with one another; and, few are willing to challenge the phobia). 

The postcard above is evidently different in what it shows. The card is non-erotic. All the subjects in the card are African. In the midst of largely heterosexual couplings, one gay couple is featured prominently holding hands as they lovingly look at one another without so much as a disapproving glance from the straight couples. Outside the way the Africans are drawn with buffoonish facial features, the postcard is supposed to comically depict a “sentimental” slice of daily African life within some unknown colony. Same-sex relationships in Africa is nothing new, as anthropological and ethnographic observations predating European colonialism reveal. There once was a time when same-sex behaviour was accepted as part of the larger arc of human expression and not frowned upon. Same-sex behaviour could be accepted and even valued in Africa’s many ethnic tribes. Under the intellectual and Judo-Christian influences of a Europe claiming to have only the best interest of the people always in mind, much of this acceptance and valuation disappeared. One of the myriad reasons used for colonial domination was the so-called immorality of the land’s people----e.g. evidence of homosexuality. 

After the colonial powers left, much of Africa chose to keep foreign customs or laws morally frowning on or criminalizing same-sex desiring folk. Observed and oral histories that were evidence of a tolerance or an outright full embracing of same-sex desiring behaviour, became largely denied and forgotten, to be replaced by the intolerable homophobia that make for today’s headline news around the world in a now “free” Africa.  Source

Historic photos of men of African descent..

I stumbled upon this, Hidden In The Open a photo essay and collection of African-American male couples throughout history going as far back as the 19th century. Trent Kelley, the collector and historian, notes that:
“Some of these images are sure to be gay and others may not. The end result is speculative at best, for want in applying a label. Not every gesture articulated between men was an indication of male to male intimacies. Assuredly, what all photographs in this book have in common though, are signs of Afro American male affection and love that were recorded for posterity without fear and shame.” 
“I want the world to see the photographs. I want the black gay community to see the photographs and men in particular so they know they have a history to be proud of,” says Kelley.

Many of the photos are in black and white and as you contextualise each photo with the time and era that they were taken, you see that these men faced possible racial violence. The affection in many of the photos are subtle and even in some cases, hard to see. But Kelley notes that on the back of  one photo was written “my special friend.”  

The collection of photos presents a history of affectionate African-American men within the United States. And in my view, it puts paid to that vague idea that intimacy between men of African descent is non existent, was unknown or unheard of, or even that it is somehow alien. 

Trent Kelley, the collector, writes: 
Historically, the Afro American gay male and couple has largely been defined by everyone but themselves. Afro American gay men are ignored into non existence in parts of black culture and are basically second class citizens in gay culture. The black church which has historically played a fundamental role in protesting against civil injustices toward its parishioners has been want to deny its gay members their right to live a life free and open without prejudice. Despite public projections of a “rainbow” community living together in harmonious co-habitation, openly active and passive prejudices exist in the larger gay community against gay Afro Americans. 
Pockets within Afro American culture have on occasion wanted to deny that its men could ever be gay and part of the overall African American experience. Gay was traditionally conceived as a white man’s predicament, a sexual orientation and affliction common only to him. By persistent influence to a culture not historically his own, the disparate Afro American man became gay. The prurient interest in the otherwise “straight” Afro American male by a white male effectively turns the black male gay. 
Of course, this was all nonsense as Africa has a long history of homosexuality predating European incursion into the continent. Open acceptance of the gay male varied from tribal community to tribal community. The gay male often occupied an honored high place in the African tribal community. In some instances, he either publicly or privately took another male as a marital partner without prejudice from his community. Where the predominant religious influence was Islam, the construct of male affection depended on the prejudices and custom within a specific local community where in some instances a man had a wife for procreation and a socially quiet husband; the male couple was expected to be discreet about their relationship. (There is plenty more on the Flickr page)
There are quite a few photos to look on the Flickr page. The photographs are best viewed by using the slideshow function.    

(UPDATE) Explosion Rocks Abuja Shopping Center | Sahara Reporters

Sahara Reporters has learned that a car bomb has exploded near the Banex Plaza in Abuja, Nigeria. The car exploded in front of Park 'N Shop at Shefiff Plaza, close to Banex Plaza in Wuse 2. FCT police commissioner is there at the moment, as the police put up barricades around the area. No one is allowed to take pictures at the moment. 
Unconfirmed reports state that one person has been injured. However, according to the latest statement from Police Spokesman Frank Mba, no causualties, injuries, or property damage has been recorded. 

Below is an official statement from Nigeria Police Forces in Abuja: continue reading

Blog Author's Note: There is little that is unusual about this report. Reports such as this have been coming out of Nigeria almost daily, for years now. What has provoked my ire though, is the general response there has been to these incidents.

Nigerians seem to be obsessed with their 'God'. Nearly all the comments made by readers in response to the story when it was originally posted on Facebook by Sahara Reporters, make one reference or the other to God. Examples: "God knows the faceless who are killing innocents, God's judgement will prevail" "God is watching and he will surely intervene" "God knows everything" "God will reveal the perpetrators of this evil act" "May God be our saviour" etc, etc. And interestingly, on the other side of the divide too, the actual perpetrators of the violence are themselves using their belief in their God or Allah, or whatever you wish to call him, as a convenient cover story for their heinous crimes.

In my humble opinion, only a desperate people who are left with no tangible hope, will cling to their 'belief in God' and think of this as the only way out of their situation. Even the authorities in Nigeria now openly call on God to come and intervene in a situation they have clearly lost control over. But is the situation in Nigeria really a matter for God?