Magic

The recent passing of an anti same-sex marriage (etcetera) bill by the Nigerian Senate has both frightened and amused me in equal measure. Partly due to the content of the bill but mainly due to the public reaction it has since generated.

Where were we 3 months ago in Nigeria? Single term/tenure elongation? Fuel subsidy removal? Power reform? Yet all of a sudden, the people, as if by magic, have been totally united behind the Senate’s action in their revulsion for all things gay.

To be clear, gay marriage is a big deal anywhere in the world. Even in the UK where civil partnerships between same sex couples are legally recognised, there remains a constant and steady opposition to it. Presently only about 10 countries – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden – give full legal recognition to same sex relationships. All other countries either give some recognition to differentiate them from heterosexual marriage (where the UK falls) or only recognise it in some jurisdictions e.g the USA and Mexico.

So why did Nigeria feel so terribly threatened by this ‘western evil practice’? (never mind that Argentina and South Africa are hardly Western nations). Yesterday Sir Richard Branson made the error of commenting on this matter and the comments section of his blog was soon overrun with indignant Nigerians telling him where to get off. Search for any other story on this matter be it Chude Jideonwo’s piece on the CNN website reproduced by Linda Ikeji here or this story on Sahara Reporters yesterday and just marvel at how Nigerians have been totally united over this matter.

And isnt this the point exactly? Nigeria was hardly ever a gay friendly country, indeed there have always been serious risks about being openly gay in Nigeria never mind daring to demand gay marriage.

Regardless, the Senate thought it was a good idea to yank this sleeping tiger by the tail and whip up the people into this religious/righteous frenzy. 

Which Senator, Rep or politician campaigned in April on a platform of banning same sex marriages? Was this ever mentioned as a pressing national issue when Nigeria was choosing its leaders 7 months ago? Yet today, we have lawmakers asking for gay people to be killed right inside the Senate chambers.

No one, including yours truly, is asking Nigeria to legalise same sex marriage. It’s a tough issue to deal with even in the west. And the day when it will be openly accepted by all and sundy is still very far off be that in London or New York. 

 

This episode has taught me that I have dangerously underestimated our lawmakers and politicians in the way that you underestimate a madman in possession of a gun. If these same politicians who rob us blind on a per second basis in Nigeria can conjure up this kind of popularity overnight out of nothing, then the future is bleaker than I have imagined. 

It is now only a matter of time before a gay person (even an alleged one) is lynched publicly by some righteous person reading from the same Book of National Values that Senator David Mark read from recently. It’s cool to hate gays now and you’d be doing society a favour by killing them.

Our politicians who have not only elevated incompetence into an artform but celebrated mediocrity at every turn while making sure to line their pockets at our expense are apparently also capable of magic. No matter how divided we might be on an issue, they know exactly what buttons to press to get us all in line.

Just like magicians will get you to focus on something else while they set up their props elsewhere to establish an illusion, it will be silly to think that this is about gay marriage especially because gay marriage was never an issue. 

The issue now is what next will come out of the magician’s box of tricks.

*Popcorn*

FF

 

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12 thoughts on “Magic

  1. I can just imagine a olive checkpoint.

    A young heterosexual couple in a car with a two friends driving down Falomo Bridge reach a police checkpoint at night.

    Officer: PARK
    Driver: Officer what seems to be the problem
    Officer: I have reason to believe the young ladies with you are gay
    Driver: Yoi can’t be serious, this is my wife with her friends visiting from the US
    Officer: Sharraap, show me the report from their Priest or Imam proving theyre not gay
    Driver: What?
    Officer pulls driver out of the car and beating commences…

    Newspaper headlines one week from the above incident:
    POLICE DISRUPT ORGY IN A CAR, ONE DEAD!

  2. Akinsope has captured what every Nigerian should be afraid of… The bill says…

    “”Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations 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.”

    Same-sex amorous relationship…. Meaning the police can basically pick you up for right about anything.

    Two guys living together in the same house suddenly become suspects… just because the police need to extort… Hugging women are in trouble… the prospects are scary.

    The major concern is not in the manipulation of the lawmakers to gain cheap popularity, it is the prospect of what the NPF can do with such a law. Every right thinking Nigerian should live in trepidation!!!

  3. On the legal issue. There are two issues. The right of every individual to choice. So whether one gets his/her own kicks from being with one man or woman, or two (or a combination); or if from thier sheep or wall gekco, I personally don’t think that the Nigerian senate should have got invoved in a stupid debate which the north and south of the country is being bomed daily. Should they not be focusing on enacting laws to for example give the army and police more powers.

    In terms of cultural imperatives determining same sex-relationships, I will drop a bomb in a few minutes, but first let me express my thoughts. In terms of Africa, it is really the responsibility of each country to pass their own laws, but also pass laws that fits with cultural imperatives (I will address this from an Igbo perspective later). ‘ Malawi, yes, I have concerns about ‘homosexuality being illegal in Malawi, in that it gave the Malawian government the right to spy on people, and make a determination. But as we have seen in Egypt where such laws exist as well, ‘homosexuality’ laws always end up being used for political witch-hunting and pogroms (also the case in Malaysia). In South Africa, ‘corrective rape’ is now rampant. Here, men go around preying of women under the cover that they are lesbians, raping them (almost involving HIV infection), in order to ‘show them what they are missing’. To me, what goes on behind someone’s door or between their sheets is none of my business, and should not be the business of the government. There is also another more serious issue for me as an Igbo. Under Igbo culture, a woman can marry another woman (Levantine law; also practiced/or was practiced by ancient Hebrews). The practice is still strong in Igbo land (and I personally support it for the purpose is meant to ensure that a man can have children even after death). Does the legislation by the Nigerian Senate apply to that as well, or do they only refer to a relationship between two men? or is there another type of same-sex marriage.

  4. Udi, the issue about Igbo women being allowed to marry was raised by one Senator during the proceedings.
    I am not sure if he managed to get a concession out of the Senators as I missed the rest of the hearing but it was definitely mentioned on the floor.

  5. As Akinsope pointed out. This would be interesting times…imagine you and your friend driving at night, police stops you…anything can come out of that…

    I personally think corruption, laziness, sheer dishonesty, polygamy in Nigeria is a bigger problem than any sort of gay marriage issues…

    I support heterosexual marriage, however, we might have taken this one step too far when we start jailing homosexuals. Homosexuality has been part of the African culture. there are different documented and undocumented behaviours of homosexualism in the African culture…I think when majority of Nigerians/Africans adopted the Western/Islamic culture, the concept of what was ‘sin’ was born…It’s unfortunate most of ‘our’ culture seem to have started with when the Europeans came…
    Ogun, the god of Iron and War in Yoruba mythology is referred to as husband to women and boys…(In one of WS’s poem, there was a reference to Ogun’s pederastic behaviour)…Then there is the concept of the dan daudu which exists in the North of Nigeria

    Had a protracted ‘argument’ with someone on FB (these things are time wasting), she said we had a morally upright culture that should be protected, our values which included amongst serious things, kneeling to greet people be protected – this is an educated person – I told her, corruption existed even before our conquerors brought western civilization and Christianity, there was corruption, me ‘dobaleing’ to greet someone doesn’t mean I respect him…

    In a way it is unfortunate that the general populace is not seeing the distraction from real issues…it’s like the Roman Emperor organising circus with slaves and lions as distraction from a falling empire…that is what Nigerian politicians are doing…

    On a last note, I would wager my salary that Mr. Jonathan doesn’t have the balls to sign the bill into law. There would be millions of dollars lost in aids, that is a massive cudgel waved by the international community. This is money that goes into a lot of people’s pockets…plus including (apologies to Zebrudaya) the plenty thieves in government.

  6. I, Major Gideon Gwarzo Orkar, wish to happily inform you of the successful ousting of the dictatorial, sadistic, drug-baronish, inhuman, deceitful, homosexually-centred, oligarchistic and unpatriotic administration of General Ibrahim Babangida. We have equally commenced their trial for unabated corruption, mismanagement of the nation’s economy, the murders of Dele Giwa and Major General M. J. Vatsa and other officers…and other human rights violations

    This was Major Orkar’s speech. I don’t recollect anyone in the Babangida administration denying these charges from being corrupt to being gay…If I recollect rightly, David Mark was amongst the administration and he should know the homosexuals Orkar and co. were referring to…:)

  7. You know, we were doing just fine before Cameron and Obama, or Camerobama as I call them decided to visit some “tin-pot” African country only to prod the fire of the already burgeoning chaos no longer slowly but rapidly ripping us apart.
    Being Gay was a sort of “inside your closet” thingy, just as long as it’s not open or you don’t visually force it on someone else, you’re cool. No one bothered really. In fact, a couple more decades down the line, and we would have assimilated the homosexual trend into our ever evolving culture as we usually tend to do here. No big deal really.

    But now, it is quite a big deal, and I won’t blame our House of Reps/Senators/President and all Powers to be concerned, that would be like blaming a mad man for wearing rags. I blame the white man, and then the other one that is not so black. We’ll call him the quasi-white man.

    After decades of ruling us; it is quite amusing to know that they are yet to truly know us. You see, our African culture has been riddled with corruption way before the advent of the white man landing our shores and bringing along all them moral objections and theological projectiles of this and that. We are quite bad here, just as the next black, white or black and white country. We are just very good in hiding our badness with a precipitating adjustment of sound moral and cultural values. A classic example, is how a church deacon will still go to the shrine in his house to pay ancestral homage after just coming back from church, and probably listening to a sermon on the ten commandments, of which I’m sure the first strongly says “you shall have no other gods but me”. We still practice badness, or to be politically correct, what society tags as “badness”. It’s an okay thing to do here really, its how we roll. The error of Camerobama was to come here and force us to publicly admit that we are not really okay, you see, this spoils things for us. No well born son of Odua, a proper son of the soil of the Yoruba race will openly admit to not being man enough to bed a woman. Neither an Ibo or Fulani man. It’s a cultural thing. Unlike the west with their cultural laxity and advanced “socio-philosophy”, we are still pretty much old fashioned. We like to keep the party going.
    Camerobama further made things worse by applying threats. Now it’s become another case of who will be the first black man to give in to the white masters. In most other cases, every “black man” (african country in this case) gives in to the white man on a regular basis, but when it comes to religion, culture and the bedroom, well, things kind of take a different turn. Those things are sacred to us. And that was where Camerobama failed to understand our position.
    And now, they have got the mad Nigerian government going on another classic Things fall apart drama, leaving a butterfly effect of very unpleasant repercussions, with the vendors being the all time triple masters world champion NPF, the dreaded MOPO, (I still think those two are different and cannot be classified as one body), local angry men (notorious for burning thieves in broad daylight) and maybe the recently coronated Boko Haram. A few new extremists might join the list.
    In due time, we would have evolved to a social state of moral tolerance, but at the moment, we are still quite young in post colonial-modernization. Camerobama should have recognized that and used the proper and more applicable way of coming in through the back door. Works like magic, always.

  8. You know, we were doing just fine before Cameron and Obama, or Camerobama as I call them decided to visit some “tin-pot” African country only to prod the fire of the already burgeoning chaos no longer slowly but rapidly ripping us apart.
    Being Gay was a sort of “inside your closet” thingy, just as long as it’s not open or you don’t visually force it on someone else, you’re cool. No one bothered really. In fact, a couple more decades down the line, and we would have assimilated the homosexual trend into our ever evolving culture as we usually tend to do here. No big deal really.

    But now, it is quite a big deal, and I won’t blame our House of Reps/Senators/President and all Powers to be concerned, that would be like blaming a mad man for wearing rags. I blame the white man, and then the other one that is not so black. We’ll call him the quasi-white man.

    After decades of ruling us; it is quite amusing to know that they are yet to truly know us. You see, our African culture has been riddled with corruption way before the advent of the white man landing our shores and bringing along all them moral objections and theological projectiles of this and that. We are quite bad here, just as the next black, white or black and white country. We are just very good in hiding our badness with a precipitating adjustment of sound moral and cultural values. A classic example, is how a church deacon will still go to the shrine in his house to pay ancestral homage after just coming back from church, and probably listening to a sermon on the ten commandments, of which I’m sure the first strongly says “you shall have no other gods but me”. We still practice badness, or to be politically correct, what society tags as “badness”. It’s an okay thing to do here really, its how we roll. The error of Camerobama was to come here and force us to publicly admit that we are not really okay, you see, this spoils things for us. No well born son of Odua, a proper son of the soil of the Yoruba race will openly admit to not being man enough to bed a woman. Neither an Ibo or Fulani man. It’s a cultural thing. Unlike the west with their cultural laxity and advanced “socio-philosophy”, we are still pretty much old fashioned. We like to keep the party going.
    Camerobama further made things worse by applying threats. Now it’s become another case of who will be the first black man to give in to the white masters. In most other cases, every “black man” (african country in this case) gives in to the white man on a regular basis, but when it comes to religion, culture and the bedroom, well, things kind of take a different turn. Those things are sacred to us. And that was where Camerobama failed to understand our position.
    And now, they have got the mad Nigerian government going on another classic Things fall apart drama, leaving a butterfly effect of very unpleasant repercussions, with the vendors being the all time triple masters world champion NPF, the dreaded MOPO, (I still think those two are different and cannot be classified as one body), local angry men (notorious for burning thieves in broad daylight) and maybe the recently coronated Boko Haram. A few new extremists might join the list.
    In due time, we would have evolved to a social state of moral tolerance, but at the moment, we are still quite young in post colonial-modernization. Camerobama should have recognized that and used the proper and more applicable way of coming in through the back door. Works like magic, always.

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