Sunday, 31 May 2009
Friday, 29 May 2009
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
Saturday, 23 May 2009
Thursday, 21 May 2009
But as hard as my parents tried to Europeanise, they always were African. And unlike me and my siblings who grew up speaking English as a first language, (which itself I suspect was deliberate on my parents' part), they spoke the indigenous language to each other. And it wasn't just the language. My parents exposed us to our true history and culture too. They took us during the school holidays to the ancestral village, where they had managed to build a house during the years when my father still worked for the colonial government. That house too was equipped with gear that Mum and Dad had repatriated from the UK, furniture, refrigerator, gas cooker and the ever present ornate china of which Mum was so fond. And while in the village, they would make sure that we interacted with the people there, joined our respective age-groups and participated in the age-group activities. The outcome of this was that we became exposed to a completely different worldview from that to which we were accustomed, living in Lagos the big city.
Back in Lagos, my education was Western. At school I learned science, art, Western music and how to play Western musical instruments. For leisure my brother and I would read books by Enid Blyton and such other European children's stories. Walt Disney productions, comic books and TV cartoons were a staple.
Together with this westernisation however, came the indigenous folklore at the ancestral village, those stories about the spirit world and the animal kingdom, the wisdom and cunning of the tortoise and the sacred nature of adagba, the revered python. These were the same folk-tales that even our great grandparents had heard as children. But then, added to all of this was also that very strict religious instruction in the Christian religion, as so happened by chance, since this could just as easily have been the Islamic religion. This was a hodgepodge of information to assimilate as a child and and it is undeniable that that there has been a lasting impact on my mind with regards to finding a true identity.
I am African, but do I really think like an African should? I could ask the same question of many other Africans. The clergy of the Anglican Church in Africa are keen to inform us that homosexuality is un-African. But they seem blind to the fact that the Anglican Church itself originates from somewhere other than Africa. Most of the arguments against homosexuality that are heard in Africa today are supported with references to the Bible. But tell me, what is African about the Bible? What have we done with our African identity? Traditional dress for men in the part of Nigeria where my ancestors came from, is comprised of a top hat from the Victorian era, or a bowler hat for the more trendy types. The top half of the man's body is adorned with a Victorian Englishman's nightshirt, traditionally decorated on the front with jewelry or coral beads. The bottom half is covered with a cloth that I can only describe as Madras cloth , which my mind tells me was introduced to my people from the Indian sub-continent by the early European traders. So that today, when a man is fully dressed in his "traditional dress", almost every item of his clothing is from somewhere outside Africa. Including his shoes!
What has happened to us? Where is our true identity?
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Thursday, 14 May 2009
But whether we like it or not, gay or straight, homophobic or die hard gay activist, we are all parts of one whole; the human race, the African community. If a segment of that community is unhappy, as is the case with the majority of the gay segment of the African community, this is a matter for the whole of the African community. We homosexual Africans are Africans too, and the issues that we face in society with stigmatisation and so forth are ultimately issues which the African society as a whole must confront. HIV prevention information that is targeted specifically at Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) for instance, benefits not only these men in particular, but the whole of society, since it is the case that many of these MSMs also do have heterosexual partners with whom they routinely engage in sexual intercourse, most of which is unprotected. Homosexual people are a part of mainstream society. We are not divorced from it.
Contrary to the belief held by some, there has not been an increase in the homosexual population in Africa. The information age has created opportunities for information to be disseminated more widely, more rapidly, and the outcome that we have seen is of awareness and enlightenment on a scale never before witnessed in human history. The world has shrunk and what information a person is privy to is determined less and less by where that person is located physically. Homosexual Africans are aware that their counterparts in other parts of the world have been recognised to be ordinary human beings, who express an entirely normal variation of human sexuality. Sexual relations between adults of whatever gender cannot be abnormal, since as human beings our sexuality is an integral part of who we are. Consensual sexual relations between adults of whatever gender is not immoral either, in my submission.
It is immoral to rape, but it cannot be immoral if I as a man should fall in love with another man whose desire it is to love me back. How can it be said to be immoral when two adult people find happiness together? Who is harmed? Where is the victim? Is it moral when a homosexual man hides or denies his sexuality, marries a woman who he cannot love and lies to her daily while cheating on her with other men? Is this the course that these very 'moral' good African people would rather that I follow?
Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, because you're going to have to get used to me and others like me, who are willing no longer to bow to some archaic colonial European doctrine that decrees compulsory heterosexuality. I am not heterosexual, and although I love my sisters very very much indeed, I am a man who is physically and sexually attracted to masculinity. I am gay and I am 100% African. That closet door was shut behind me long ago and I intend never to go back there. More and more of us gay Africans need to come out and speak up. When we do this, we can create for ourselves a voice that people will listen to and not feel threatened by, while at the same time shedding that burden of the fear-of-exposure that dominates our lives, which only provides fertile ground for blackmailers and fodder for tabloids such as the Red Pepper in Uganda. You cannot out me, because I've outed myself already. And there is nothing you can do about it!
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
He loves me
You keep me on my feet
Happily excited by your cologne, your hands, your smile
You woo me, you court me
You tease me, you please me
You school me, give me some things to think about
Invite me, you ignite me, co-write me, you love me
You like me, you incite me to chorus 2x
You're different and special in every way imaginable
You love me from my head to my toe nails
You got me feelin' like the breeze
Easy and free, lovely and me
When you touch me
I can't control it
When you touch me
I just can't hold it
The emotion inside of me
I can feel it
(The words of the song "He loves me" by Jill Scott)
You can watch/listen to it here
Visit Jill Scott's website
Monday, 11 May 2009
Friday, 8 May 2009
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Monday, 4 May 2009
Sunday, 3 May 2009
Saturday, 2 May 2009
The more time I spent with Garuba, the more I fell under his spell. His presence around me was almost intoxicating, and I wondered how I had managed all those years before I met him. I had been in a relationship with Moses, but that was not the same as this. Time spent with Moses was fleeting at the best of times and his circumstances and mine were such that we were unable to take our relationship much further than what we had already done. Personally, I was concerned that if I persisted in that relationship, there could be undesired consequences on his marriage, and this was an eventuality that I was determined would not occur. I had gradually decreased the frequency at which I visited the Shrine.
I have come to realise that architects have a way of imprinting their own stamp on their immediate surroundings. Despite being over furnished, Garuba's room at home exuded good quality in the items that the room contained. The office was pretty much the same, except that the rooms here were much more spacious and Garuba and his colleagues had ample room to demonstrate what they were capable of. It was a very beautiful suite of offices, occupying an entire floor of a 7 storey building in the centre of town. I noted that even in this environment, Hausa was the language of choice. So very often, I was made to feel like an outsider since anyone who spoke to me would have to make the effort to speak English, a language with which some of them were not very comfortable. I ended up sitting quietly in Garuba's office, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, although I could tell that my presence caused Garuba to be less effective at work than he should have been, since he would every few minutes come into the office from wherever he was, just to see that I was fine. Sometime in the early afternoon, everyone left the office to attend the Friday prayers at the Central Mosque up the road. Coffee and biscuits had been provided, so I remained in the office and busied myself flipping through architectural publications that were sitting on the occasional table in Garuba's office.
Northern Nigerians are more restrained and conservative than people from the south and it is very unusual indeed for a person like Garuba to engage in an overt expression of affection in a public place. But in the airport lounge, just before I left him to join the other passengers who were boarding the plane, Garuba held me close and I whispered into his ear, urging him to please drive safely. He said he would meet me here on Wednesday afternoon when I returned. He stood in front of the airport building as I walked out unto the apron and towards the waiting aeroplane. I turned around and he was still there, watching me, smiling. Climbing up the steps to the airplane, I turned around again. Garuba was waving to me and I waved back. I took one last look just before I entered through the door and he was still standing there...