Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts on Anti-gay Law in Nigeria



The Nigerian senate recently passed a bill criminalising homosexuality in the country. If the bill is upheld by the House of Representatives, President Goodluck Jonathan may sign it into law and this could spell stints of up to 14 years in jail for the crime of homosexuality.


Naturally western leaders have risen in condemnation of the proposed law, with the American government threatening to cut or stop American aid to Nigeria, as surely other non-African leaders are wont to do. There is no shortage of voices rising against this move by the Nigerian government, including Amnesty International who in a statement suggests that if passed, the law "…would place a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions, including human rights defenders and anyone else -- including friends, families and colleagues -- who stands up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in Nigeria,"


Socio-political activism in Nigeria tends to be rather highly dramatic and some might say, even dangerous. However it is quite unlikely that Nigerian leaders could try to silence activists or political opponents by branding them gay or lesbian and stashing them away in jails for up to 14 years. An anti-gay law has never been necessary to exercise political intimidation in Nigeria. It is inappropriate to suggest that this anti-gay bill will feed a culture of witch-hunt. In fact, many Nigerians believe that it seeks to preserve the cultural and spiritual well-being of the society in an ill-advised manner. Besides, when viewed from an angle that a normal family setting is desirable, especially if children are to be brought up within them, a law prohibiting same-sex marriage may be necessary in order to prevent emotional violence against possible offspring. Many people across the world strongly believe that children should not be brought up by same-sex couples because such an environment would surely be confusing to them and will definitely set them up for ridicule in schools, which might damage them emotionally and psychologically for life. The wrongness of this kind of family building is clear in the marriage of celebrity musician Elton John and David Furniss. They had a child in 2010 through a ‘secret’ surrogate mother. Apparently their sperms were mixed up and used to inseminate the woman and it has been reported that they as yet don’t know which one of them is the father.


While there is a basis for understanding the reasoning behind putting a law in place against gay marriage, legislating against harmless, possibly transient romantic liaisons between same-sex couples cuts it fine along lines of violation of rights. The argument here is that if two adults wish to engage in homosexual activity that is harming nobody, they should not be prevented from doing so. However if they wish to get married and possibly proceed to acquire children, the society has a responsibility to protect those children.


Nigerians in Nigeria and in the Diaspora have widely different takes on the issue. For many, the feeling is of sheer incredulity that in a country where armed robbery and kidnaps are rife, in a country where terrorism is growing fast with bombings of public places claiming lives, in a country where unemployment is becoming unmanageable, prices are soaring, millions are starving and unsure of how they will survive, the law men have placed priority in criminalising homosexuality. There are others who oppose the law on the grounds that the government is trying to interfere in some basic human rights of the Nigerian citizenry. There are of course a lot of voices rising for the sake of it, who must always make propaganda of themselves by finding something wrong in everything the Nigerian leadership does.


As these voices rise against the impending law, millions of others are raised in support of it. From a cultural and religious standpoint, the majority of Nigerians will never accept homosexuality. This is the major problem that those who oppose the bill will have. Nigeria is not ready and may never be ready to embrace gay and lesbian activity in the country.  It just will not happen. No matter how hard people try to argue that they are born that way or have made a choice to live that way, it is nothing that will gain acceptance.


The major problem is religion. The two major religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. More than anywhere in the world, followers of these two religions are overzealous and intolerant of opposing or dissenting views. Both Islam and Christianity deem homosexuality to be wrong.  for instance offers the perspective that “There is no doubt that in Islam homosexuality is considered 'sinful'. Homosexuality as far as Islam is concerned is a profound mistake (as are all sins if they are not intending to do wrong). Humans are not homosexuals by nature. People become homosexuals because of their environments. Particularly critical is the environment during puberty. Suggestions, ideas & strange dreams are symptoms of confused attempts to understand new and blunt sexual desires and are rashly interpreted as defining someone as being one sexuality or another. If these conclusions are accompanied by actual homosexual acts they are even more strongly reinforced. Human instincts can be subjected to acts of will. Sexuality is a choice of identity which follows choices of action which follow from choices of what to have sexual fantasies about. Human beings are especially able to control their thoughts, entertaining some and dismissing others.”


          Clearly, there is no chance of Muslims in Nigeria to accept what is not ‘natural’ with human beings. This is the same with Christians. The Holy Bible severally condemns homosexuality and lumps it together with bestiality and other perverse leanings. The aim of every true Christian is to be worthy of entering into the Kingdom of God. In verses 9-10 of the first book of Corinthians, chapter 6, homosexuality is listed as one of the transgressions that will prevent a Christian from inheriting the Kingdom; “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”


          Nigeria may sometimes be dismissed as a place of over-church-attending, over-mosque-attending God-forsaken people where religious practices leave much to be desired, often coming across as borderline evil, but the Nigerian religious are a bunch of uncompromising zealots and will never betray their God by embracing gays and lesbians.


          There is also the issue of social and cultural perception. In Nigeria it is a shame to be gay or lesbian. This is why those that are known to be, never openly admit it. You find them in politics and literature masquerading as gay rights activists, but ask them pointedly on record if they are gay and you receive a very bland answer; “I don’t have to be gay to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian people” or “Why do I always get that question because I am trying to say stop attacking homosexuals for the way they are born?”


          If they are firm in their beliefs. If they are sure that they are simply wired that way. If they are certain that their rights ought to be protected, why is it that they cannot stand up to be counted? The idea of fighting for the faceless and the nameless is lame and will not achieve any results. All those people who are homosexuals should come out of the cupboards, wardrobes or wherever they are hiding and stand by their convictions and let us see if the Nigerian government will arrest them all and jail them.


          The truth of the matter is that the Nigerian society and culture frowns at homosexuality and the families of any confirmed gay people will have a hard time living down the shame. Nobody wants to be responsible for his old parents dying of heartbreak or even suicide.


          Nigeria does not need to make a law against homosexuality. This issue already is regulated by the country’s social and cultural norms. The only thing this law-making process will achieve is prove that the nation’s legislature are simply a bunch of overpaid clowns who don’t know what to do with their time. TB


This article was first published in Sunday Punch on 18th December 2011


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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Results of the Swale Life Poetry Competition (November 2011)

We are pleased to announce the results of the Swale Life Poetry Competition (November 2011) as judged by Geoff Stevens.

There are 7 commended in no particular order:

K. Woodrow – ‘Graffiti Artist, 37, seeks symbol with gsoh

Adrian Bushen – Schubertiad

Michael Newman – Sunrise at Wainlode

Michael Newman – In the Key of Regret

Michael Newman – News from Wales

C.J. Korta – A Dorset Couple

Garden Pests – Flick Spear

The Highly Commended Poems which win prizes of £10 each are:

Roger Elkin – Sun Street, Shelton

Troy Elliot – Hurricane Rita

The winner of the Third Prize of £30.00 is Bruce Harris - Commuter Computer

The Second Prize of £50.00 goes to Christian Ward – Scafell

And the First Prize of £100.00 goes to Noelle Janaczewska – Once upon a Tiger

These 12 poems, together with the winners and commended poems from the previous 3 Swale Life International Poetry Competitions held in 2011 will be included in the anthology to be published in December.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Excel for Charity - writing competitions in aid of the world's charities

Excel for Charity - International Writing Competitions Series in aid of charities. Current competitions: 1. The TRYangle Project Poetry (Judge: Gabriel Griffin) & Short Story (Judge: Kate Horsley) Competitions on DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Closing 10-10-11 2. Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry (Judge: Susanna Roxman) & Short Story (Judge: Toni Kan) Competitions on CHILDHOOD. Closing 31-10-11 and 3. Swale Life International Poetry Competition. Open theme. Closing 10-11-11
Excel for Charity - writing competitions in aid of the world's charities

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Nollywood and the Femme Fatale | Nigeria News & Opinion | Think Africa Press

Nollywood and the Femme Fatale | Nigeria News & Opinion | Think Africa Press

LUPUS UK International Poetry Competition

Closing Date: 30/06/11

Lupus UK International Poetry Competition 2011
This competition is administered by Excel for Charity in aid of LUPUS UK – a national charity helping people with the presently incurable immune system illness lupus. Lupus UK currently supports some 6,000 members through their Regional Groups and advise many others on the symptoms prior to diagnosis.
Open theme. Maximum 40 lines long.
Prizes: £150, £75, £40 and 2 x £10 Commendation Prizes. Plus publication in the Excel for Charity website.
Entry Fees: £4/1, £7.50/2, £10.50/3, £12.50/4 and £14.00/5 (a third of entry fees goes to Lupus UK).
Judge: Jim Bennett – award-winning author of The Man Who Tried to Hug Clouds, Managing Editor, Poetry Kit. Go to competition page

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Nollywood Focus invites you to The Mirror Boy movie World Premiere and After-party.

Mirror Boy is the Nollywood movie everybody wants to see. Written and Directed by Obi Emelonye (Who's Next?, Echoes of War, The London Successor). The impressive cast includes Nollywood's foremost actress Genevieve Nnaji alongside a strong cast including Osita Iheme (Back from America), Fatima Jabbe, Edward Kagutuzi (The Bill, Law & order), John Charles Njie (The Calabash, Wrong Identity), and Modu Musa Ceesay (The Banjul Cops, My Gambian Holiday).

Produced by OH Films in association with The Nollywood Factory, The Mirror Boy (as talked about on CNN Inside Africa), promises to set new standards in Nollywood film-making. That's it friends, Nollywood continues its march to conquer the world. What is left is for everyone to come out and support the film by going to the cinema to see it.

What is the film about?

“The Mirror Boy” is an enthralling journey through the picturesque terrains of The Gambia, as seen through the eyes of a London-born 12 year old boy, TIJANI.

On the 13th of June and wholly out of character, TIJANI gets involved in a street fight in which a boy is hurt. Convinced that TIJANI needs discipline, TEEMA, his mum decides to take him to the Gambia to live with her sister.

On their arrival in Banjul, TIJANI encounters what he considers to be a simple apparition - a boy smiling at him in a mirror and vanishing afterwards.

However, seeing the same boy in a crowded street market the next day sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in him getting lost.

While the panic-stricken TEEMA struggles with the Police Force to find her son in an intriguing game of survival brinkmanship, TIJANI is left alone in the company of the enigmatic MIRROR BOY who is only visible to him.

As a bruising spiritual rite of passage, the MIRROR BOY takes TIJANI on a magical journey through the dark belly of the forest.

After a series of edge-of-the-seat adventures in the forest, TIJANI emerges the next day, a bewildered boy; for whom the lines between reality and fantasy; between the physical and the spiritual have been forever blurred.

His arrival at a time of mourning for a small kingdom upsets the evil machinations of a desperate Queen who; threatened by his innocent presence; is not afraid to wield her mysterious powers.

A cathartic climax helps TIJANI to unravel the mystery of the MIRROR BOY. It also provides him with a rather mystical explanation for the way his life has cascaded from the 13th of June towards this inter-twined fate with a father he has never met...

What does it cost?
There are 4 ticket options for you.

1. Limited unreserved Seating - £15.00 only available until 31/01/2011
2. VIP Limited Reserved Seating - £20.00
3. VIP Reserved Seating plus After-Party - £50.00 (The most popular)
4. After-party only - £20.00

Where can you get the tickets?
NOLLYWOOD FOCUS - The Mirror Boy Premiere Partners are selling online now --- NO BOOKING FEES! --- Pay Safely and Securely by PAYPAL by following this link:

Your e-ticket will be delivered by e-mail. Please note: Tickets will not be available at the door.

If you don't do online payments, you can send a cheque or postal order payable to: EASTERN LIGHT EPM INTERNATIONAL and send to:

Nollywood FocusEastern Light EPM International
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E18 1AB

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Nollywood Focus is a publishing style of Eastern Light EPM International - spotlighting milestones and people in the Nigerian film industry.