John had hoped that his post as the school’s works prefect whose cane strokes was the most dreaded in the school would subdue me and make me an unwilling accomplice.
I found courage and strength from within and pleaded with him in a sort of loud tone to let me be, noticing that our combined voices (he was begging me to do, and i was begging him to leave me) may wake up other students, John let off momentarily, and I took my opportunity. I quickly jumped down from his six – spring bed and ran like Forest Gump, not even a thousand bush babies could have stopped me from reaching my dormitory.
John never bothered me again as he must have felt that I was a bad customer capable of causing trouble, no doubt he must have been getting away with this and still continued to get away with it long after this incident, as he never came before any school disciplinary panel, neither was he expelled, people like me that should have reported him then were not brave enough at the time to do so.
When in December of 2005 the UK government in the name of political correctness passed into law the civil partnership act allowing thousands of gay partners (most notoriously Elton John and David Furnish) to wed in Marriage registries, and also giving them common law marriage rights like their heterosexual counterparts, I could only mutter God save us, as I remembered my other encounter with a gay man.
It was at an Onyeka Onwenu concert at the Crystal Park Hotel Aba many years ago, I still remember this bloke (call him Tony), good looking and stocky in appearance, we had bumped into each other briefly at the hotel lobby and exchanged knowing glances, you know one of those feelings when you meet someone and you think that you know him or her from somewhere and then go ahead to ponder where you knew them from, well, this particular dude actually misunderstood the ‘knowing’ glance as a sign that I was ‘game’.
During the concert, as I plotted and schemed with my friends on how to catch this chick who was also in the concert (my own game), Tony in turn was plotting and scheming on how to catch me (his own game), at some point he came over to where we were standing and in the frenzy of jumping up and down to Onyeka’s One Love rendition, the brother repeatedly patted me on the back side, at first i thought that it was as a result of the tightness of space but each time I looked at him, he would blow this ludicrous and mischievous wink across to me that made me want to punch him one in the face. As the concert progressed, he couldn’t hold himself anymore and seemed like he was reaching for my crotch when I grabbed his hands. Surely I knew that I had entered enemy territory.
When I asked him what his problem was, he answered me with the most ludicrous proposition I have ever heard in my life, rivalling Robert Redford’s indecent proposal to Demi Moore, Tony wanted me to come home with him. My friends pleaded with me not to embarrass him, but they sure did have a big laugh over me, I asked Tony if he was blind to all the moves I have been making all night to score my own game, he quickly disappeared into the crowd but I later saw him that night in the company of another male.
The gay movement is gradually spreading across Africa, Nigeria in particular. The tabloid press in Nigeria constantly report that lesbianism is on the rise in the Nollywood film industry, with big name stars included in the list. The general feeling is that gays are getting bolder in their quest for acceptance and integration in the Nigerian context, some of them don’t hide their lifestyle anymore, recent media reports tell of gatherings in Lagos by the gay community, and support/friendship groups springing up all over Nigeria.
Sometime last week, the Nigerian media reported that authorities of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) have dismissed 15 cadets for engaging in homosexual activities, the NDA Public relations Officer Major Timothy Antigha had said that such behaviours contravened the provisions of section 8 sub-section (1) of the Armed Forces Act which forbids sodomy in the Armed Forces. The discovery may only be a tip of the iceberg and goes to suggest the extent to which homosexual lifestyle has permeated not only the military academy but also our entire society. The sad thing though is that we all seem to be caught up in the denial culture, choosing to keep silent, and waving the issue aside as if it does not exist, or that it probably hasn’t reached alarming proportions. Such brazen sexual lifestyles are probably being propped up and encouraged by our silent acquiesces and also by the recent events in the developed countries, including the changes in marriage acts, adoption and inheritance rights.
Certain commentators also suggest that homosexuality is prevalent in Northern Nigeria, a practice known locally as Dan Daudu. There is this famous case of Abubakar Hamza – the self confessed transvestite. Without suggesting any link of these suggestions to the NDA incident but it seems a bit coincidental that NDA is also in Kaduna, which is in Northern Nigeria.
The tabloid press in Nigeria also repeatedly allege that people high up in government in Nigeria also indulge in homosexual practices, there is also persistent rumour linking a wealthy private telecom operator and business mogul to a former Nigerian high profile government official.
For whatever reasons, some Nigerians seem to accept lesbianism more than male homosexuality, some people I spoke to in the course of writing this article actually believe that female homosexuality is just ‘harmless fun’. It is not to me, I remember this ex-girlfriend who led a bisexual lifestyle, worse still she was bold enough to confess to me that she had actually indulged in the act with her girlfriend while I was at her house watching sp
orts on television, I thought of strangling them both or sending ‘hired assassins’ after her girlfriend at the time.
The west is gradually taking their own position on the issue of homosexuality, Africa and indeed Nigeria need to take theirs. President Obasanjo’s proposals of a prison term of 5 years for anybody caught indulging in same sex relationships has been received with mixed reactions both in the West and in Nigeria. Daggers are now drawn between far rightists and leftists; the battle line now separates the state and the citizens, over the citizens’ right to have sex with whom ever they chose. Morality, faith and religion have all been thrown into the equation but the battle is hardly over.
While discussing this issue with one of my students, I was taken aback by his perspective, ‘If God wanted same sex marriages, he would have created Adam and Stephen, and not Adam and Eve’ he said. Some others too are saying that the new laws have created another opportunity for Africans to use in their political asylum claims in the West on the grounds of sexual persecution in their home country.
It may seem also that even western societies haven’t fully accepted homosexual lifestyles, especially from their leaders, despite the laws being introduced to protect and defend same-sex relationships.
Simon Hughes, a member of the UK parliament and until the week ending January 2006 had the ambitions of putting himself forward for the position of the Chairmanship of his party (The Liberal Democratic Party), recently vacated by Charles Kennedy (a self confessed alcoholic). Mr Hughes seemed to be cruising in the race until the British tabloids broke the story of his bisexual lifestyles.
Before the Brits begin to pick holes in Nigeria’s proposed homosexual laws, they should first tell the world why they have made Mr Hughes’ sexuality such a big issue.
I remember our meeting with Mr Hughes sometime last year when we hosted him in Emenike Mgbemena’s law offices in Camberwell, South East London. He had approached us to help him sell his campaign to ethnic minorities in the Bermondsey area of London and had impressed us with his sound knowledge of Nigerian and African affairs, pledging to push Nigeria’s debt cancellation fight at Westminster. Although we tried our best for him, and he eventually won, but in the light of recent revelations, I am not so sure how we could have pushed his case forward in the black community if we had known back then that he was gay.
This for sure is not the last word on the issue of homosexuality in the African context.