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Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.


By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Luxury Living In Lagos Built With World Bank Funds For The Poor.


By Global Information Network (GIN)

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Local officials in Lagos, Nigeria, who accepted a $200 million loan from the World Bank to “increase sustainable access to basic urban services,” are instead creating an unaffordable complex of 1,000 luxury units on the grounds where poor and working people recently lived.

According to a new report from Amnesty International, partnering with the Nigerian Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), tens of thousands of Lagosians who lived in the Badia East area which fronts the scenic Gulf of Guinea, have been homeless since their devastating evictions in February on short notice. Self-built homes were bulldozed and the one-time residents were forced to sleep out in the open or under a bridge.

“The effects of February’s forced eviction have been devastating,” said Amnesty’s Oluwatosin Popoola.

It wasn’t the first time the Lagos government diverted money intended to improve life for the large riverine community. Since the early 1990s, grants from World Bank money for ‘slum clearance’ were instead the motive for the mass eviction of area residents without resettlement. In 1997, more evictions were ordered for some 2,000 residents who were chased off by armed guards from even salvaging their own possessions.

A new round of demolitions began in 2003 following a 48 hour notice, but was stopped midway by non-violent resistance. After a short interlude, the evictions resumed again in October 2003. Some 3,000 residents of Oke Ilu-Eri were left without compensation or replacement homes. Again in March 2013, hundreds of homes were demolished by the ‘Kick Against Indiscipline’ brigade.

In an interview with the New York Times, the Lagos state commissioner for housing, Adedeji Olatubosun Jeje, provided a different version of events.

“It’s a regeneration of a slum,” he said. “We gave enough notification. The government intends to develop 1,008 housing units. What we removed was just shanties. Nobody was even living in those shanties. Maybe we had a couple of squatters living there.”

The Lagos state Attorney-General claimed they were merely clearing empty land. “It was just a rubbish dump,” he maintained.

As for the new housing, “there’s not a chance they can afford it,” said Felix Morka, SERAC’s executive director told the Times. Badia residents earn under $100 a month on average.

“The Lagos state government has failed to comply with national and international law. It is high time that the Lagos state government and the Nigerian government stop forced evictions and enact legal safeguards that apply to all evictions,” said Amnesty’s Popoola.

Amnesty and SERAC are calling on the governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, to publicly commit to stopping forced evictions, and on the World Bank to put safeguards in place to ensure it does not support any activities which may result in forced evictions in the future. w/pix of homeless family in Badia East

Namibia Restores An African Name To Historic Caprivi Strip

Aug. 13 (GIN) – In a move to restore African names erased by its German colonizers, Namibia officially renamed the historic and touristic Caprivi Strip. The new name is the Zambezi Region.

Namibia was occupied by the German Empire from 1884 to 1919. After a deal struck with England, Caprivi was annexed to German South-West Africa in order to give Germany a route to Africa’s east coast. The strip was named after the German chancellor, Leo von Caprivi.

After Germany, Namibia was administered by apartheid South Africa until 1990. There are some 30,000 Namibians of German descent  living in the country.

Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba also changed “Lüderitz” – named for a German merchant – to Naminus, which means “embrace” in the local Khoisan language. The village of Schuckmannsburg was changed back to its original name, Lohonono.

Over the years, the Strip had political-strategic military importance. From the Rhodesian Bush War (1970–1979), African National Congress operations against the South African government (1965–1994) and the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002), the Strip saw multiple incursions by various armed forces using the Strip as a corridor to other territories.

In 2004 Germany apologized for the colonial-era genocide that killed 65,000 Herero people through starvation and slave labor in concentration camps. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half their population. The camps – with their “bureaucratization of killing” – allegedly influenced the Nazis in the second world war.

In 2011, Germany sent back 20 Herero and Nama skulls that had been transported there for racial experiments.

Today there is still anger among indigenous communities who live in poverty and demand reparations from Germany, their shanty town homes contrasting with vast German-owned farms. South African author Patricia Glyn observed: “Changing a couple of names doesn’t really crack it. It’s very little and very late.”

“The Nama people are still living in a ghetto,” she pointed out. Further, “not one of the German concentration camps has so much as a sign and you can still go out in a buggy and find yourself driving over the bones of those who died. I don’t think the Namibian government is doing one-eighth of what it should to honor the dead.” w/pix of Herero women

President Clinton Takes Swipe At Human Rights Groups, Backs Kagame

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Former President Bill Clinton, on an African tour with daughter Chelsea, praised the Rwandan government lead by President Paul Kagame despite increasing evidence that Rwanda is backing ruthless rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A feisty Clinton, in an extended interview with the BBC, barely contained himself when reminded that human rights advocates, the U.N. and even President Obama have linked Kagame to the M23 rebel group which reportedly employs child soldiers and uses “terrible acts of violence,” according to the U.S. Treasury which has placed sanctions on group members.

“Where were those human rights groups criticizing” Rwanda today when Hutus were slaughtering Tutsis, Clinton asked BBC reporter Komla Dumor of Ghana. “…where were they when the Hutus went crazy in 1994?” To which Dumor responded: “Where was the world?”

Allegations of Rwanda’s support for M23 rebels in DRC, stated Clinton, “has not been fully litigated.” He added: “Secondly, its complicated by the fact that this section of Congo near Rwanda is full of people who perpetrated the genocide, who spurned the President’s offer to come home and not go to prison…and you can’t get around the fact that the economic and social gains in Rwanda have been nothing short of astonishing under Kagame, and he says he going to leave when his time is up…”

“…So I understand that some people in the human rights community believe that every good thing that has happened in Rwanda should be negated by what they allege they [Rwandans] have done in eastern Congo…”

In addition to support for M23, Dumor said, there’s repression of media and other human rights abuses.

A laughing Clinton said: “Look, I believe in a free press. When I was President, I helped to keep the press free that made a living out of feasting on my bones everyday! And I think too many politicians are too sensitive to being criticized.

“I think we have to be a little sensitive to the fact that if you’re Rwandan, you remember that an alleged free press helped push Rwanda into a boiling cauldron of butchery…”

The Clintons’ tour took them to Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa where they pumped up support for the Coca Cola Company’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment which focuses on retail entrepreneurship for women.

Rita Marley – ‘Philanthropist And Patriot’ – Tapped As ‘Honorary Ghanaian’

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Rita Marley, wife of reggae artist Bob Marley and founder of the Rita Marley Foundation, has received a Ghanaian passport in recognition of her contributions to Ghana.

Dr Erieka Bennett, head of mission for the African Union’s Diaspora Africa Forum, said: “We are thrilled to see the Ghana Government recognizing the tremendous contribution Nana Rita has made to Ghana socially, as well as economically. This is a historical day for those of us from the diaspora.”

Nana Rita Marley, born in Cuba and raised in Trenchtown, Jamaica, began her musical career in the early sixties as a vocalist with the all-female group The Soulettes who appeared with the Four Tops, Johnny Nash and other stars of the day.

She repatriated to Ghana over a decade ago and lives at Konkonduru, a village near Aburi. Among her projects, as detailed on the website “It’s About Time,” has been the adoption of the Methodist Local Primary and J.S.S, both schools in her community. Apart from rehabilitating old school blocks and building new ones, she also supports the children by providing lunches for primary school children to supplement their nutrition, and through scholarships.

Mrs. Marley supported the funding and distribution of the five-in-one vaccine for children of the eastern region. Other projects include improving the main road for the Konkonnuru community, and bringing water to the village by drilling a 40 meter deep borehole.

In 2004, Rita Marley and the women in her community began a plantation of cassava and other vegetables. Mrs. Marley has also opened a library stocked with the musical works of Bob Marley and herself at her Tuff Gong Studio at Aburi on the Akwapem ridge.

On her official website she notes, “Reggae is the heartbeat of a person. It’s the people’s music. Everywhere you go, you get the same response from both black and white.”

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

HRT agrees to farm out Namibia oil blocks to Galp Energia.


SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s HRT Participações em Petroleo SA said on Monday that it has agreed to a farm-out deal with Portugal’s Galp Energia SGPS, offering a 14 percent stake in three offshore Namibian oil leases.

Under the deal, which is pending regulatory approval in Namibia, Galp would assume the cost of two exploratory wells in the Walvis Basin and one exploratory well in the Orange Basin in waters as deep as 2,500 meters (8,200 feet).

Last week HRT raised its estimate for oil and equivalent natural gas in its Namibian concessions to 7.391 billion barrels of oil equivalent of “potential prospective resources,” based on three-dimensional seismic data.

HRT plans to start drilling in Namibia in the first quarter of 2013 after the delivery of a Transocean Ltd oil rig.

None of the oil and gas in Namibia has been proven, and if it exists it will require significant exploration work before the company could consider declaring any oil or gas discoveries commercially viable reserves.

The company’s chief executive, Marcio Mello, said last week that HRT is studying a possible farm-out option in 2013 for its Solimoes assets in Brazil’s Amazon. HRT’s Amazon assets are part owned by Anglo-Russian oil company TNK-BP.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

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