NIGERIA - DECEMBER 12: Nigerian Women Woth Traditional Headdress In 1956.
Two days before Lola’s dream wedding, her maid of Honour Sandra stumbles on a secret that could change all of their lives forever.UNSPOKEN is a story of commitment to love and friendship in the face of societal taboos we dare not confront or speak of. Share and like our FANPAGE https://www.facebook.com/UnspokenFilm
Checkout website www.oakmanfilm.com CAST Marlene Abuah Segilola Scott Imanuel Orwi Ameh Amour Owolabi Produced and Directed by Sunny King Written By Ola Laniyan and Edith Nwekenta ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Rights worker Olumide Makanjuola says a gay friend agreed to be flogged in an attempt to ‘whip the devil out of him’. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP
The party had just started when the gunshot pierced the music. Instantly the men scattered, knowing what it meant: a police raid.
They had gathered in a hotel in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi, renting out almost a whole floor for a surprise birthday party. But in the minaret-dotted city, where sharia in theory requires gay men to be stoned to death, such stolen moments are fraught. Someone had tipped off the Hisbah – the religious police.
As officials stormed in on that night in 2007, John (not his real name) felt numb with fear. He ran to a room, switched off the lights and crawled under the bed. “They checked room by room. They opened the door and flashed a flashlight, but they thought it was empty.” They arrested 18 others.
A week later, John went to Friday prayers at the mosque. He prayed for 18 of his friends who faced sodomy charges in a sharia court. He prayed for their lawyer, who was forced to sneak into the first hearing via a side door as a mob threatened to stone him for defending “gay marriage”. He prayed for strength to do what he had decided to do next.
"That incident really gave us the courage to start doing something. We couldn’t hide any more," recalls John. And so, in one of the most conservative states in Nigeria, he started holding underground meetings with other gay people. They supported each other when neighbours accused them of being "demons". Sometimes money was pooled together to pay bail or buy condoms, handed out to those who couldn’t afford them. Mainly, though, they helped each other cross the lonely horizon of living each day in denial, finding solace in mutual acceptance.
For years, they gathered in secret. But last week Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill, unleashing a wave of homophobia that threatens to sweep away seven years spent building a fragile haven. The far-reaching law targets not only homosexuals but also those who support their rights, or who fail to report gay people. At least 40 arrests last week swelled the number of those incarcerated to almost 200 across Nigeria, rights groups told the Observer.
One by one, John and his friends fled the city.
"More than 90% of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people," said Reuben Abati, the presidential spokesman. The president’s approval ratings soared after months of dismal news about corruption, political violence and a radical Islamist insurgency in the north.
From his location in hiding, John thinks about what to do next. “I’m not comfortable here at all. I cannot stay here doing nothing.”
In a hotel room in the capital, Abuja, two women in hijabs are visiting Dorothy Aken’ova to buy goods considered contraband: sex toys. Providing a rare place where society women feel comfortable enough to buy roleplay lingerie without being judged is just one way Aken’ova tries to liberate her sexually repressed country. Another is hiring lawyers to defend men or women arrested for being gay.
The mother of three has filled her week with phone calls, trying to find lawyers willing to represent those in detention. One man was arrested after his landlord said it was suspicious he shared a flat with another man.
"The lawyers who accept these jobs will charge the skin on your bum. But then the cost of armed guards to accompany them isn’t cheap," Aken’ova sighs, before telling the two giggling women the price for bottles of massage oil.
Money – sometimes out of Aken’ova’s own pocket – is no longer the biggest problem. Simply persuading someone to take up cases is much harder, with many fearing they will be targeted by association. “As soon as I mention gender minority rights, people ask me: ‘Are you a lesbian?’ You can tell they’re willing to immediately dissociate with you if you answer in the affirmative,” says Aken’ova, whose quick smile blossoms as brightly as the tattooed flower on her right biceps.
Such reactions are common across Africa, where populist bills have cracked down on homosexuality, often tightening colonial-era laws. International pressure against such moves has fuelled anti-gay sentiment, with leaders using anger at perceived western interference as an escape valve. The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, last week said gay people were the product of “random breeding” in the west when “nature goes wrong”, but blocked an anti-gay bill after months of pressure from international donors. Unlike Uganda, about half of whose budget is supplied by western donors, Nigeria is flush with petrodollars and can defy such pressure.
For campaigners, the problem starts with the title of the bill. “People read it and think: OK, I agree with this. They don’t question what else is inside that bill,” says Aken’ova, who has never heard of anyone campaigning for gay marriage. “It’s not [just] anti-gay people; it’s anti-people.”
Last year, a lawmaker said of the bill: “You have a right to your sexual preference but by trying to turn it into marriage do you realise you could be infringing on the human rights of the other person who finds it repulsive?”
So far, they haven’t been the victims. Last week Ibrahim Marafaa, a 47-year-old teacher who was arrested before the bill was signed, was publicly flogged and fined 5,000 naira (£20) after “confessing to his abnormality”.
"If he feels an injustice has been done, he has the right to appeal within 30 days," said Alhassan Zakaria, the sharia lawyer who oversaw the whipping.
Down south, too, floggings aren’t uncommon. Lagos-based rights worker Olumide Makanjuola recounts how a friend of his agreed to be flogged in a bid to “whip the devil out of him”. “He just wanted to stop being the subject of hatred,” Makanjuola says, very softly.
Immaculately dressed and dreadlocked, he talks energetically, at incredible speed, despite several nights awake fielding dozens of phone calls.
Earlier he spent an hour talking to family members to reassure them about his safety. Then two friends called to say they’re leaving the country. One, a doctor, asked if he could be prosecuted for treating gay patients.
Last year Makanjuola documented a case where four men suspected of being gay were publicly stripped, beaten, tied together and paraded naked in a south-western village. The police said they had no evidence of the incident, captured on camera by a jeering mob, but opened investigations to find out if the men were “sodomites”.
Makanjuola refuses to believe the mob’s anger was about homosexuality which, he says, was a scapegoat for their desperation in a country where mismanagement and corruption have left most people jobless and poor.
"They’re a clear example of people who are frustrated by the system. But they should be directing it at our leaders who are buying houses in London and Dubai using looted funds," he says.
Others have little truck with that argument. “Being gay is due to lack of parental care,” says Abdullahi Sani, a policeman who took time off work to attend the lashing in Bauchi. “Twenty lashes is child’s play compared to the offence. The victim has ceased to be a normal human being. He has lost sight of God.”
It’s in this climate John has worked to forge his place in the world. And life was beginning to make sense, he says.
His goal was clear: to act as a point man in a quiet but growing underground movement. This despite his father sitting him down last month and telling him about a gay friend who had recently been beaten up, to stop “associating with that gay boy”.
"I’ll try but it’s not good to suddenly start avoiding a friend. He’s a human being," John told him.
Once, his mother, who died last year, took him aside. “She told me: People will always talk. Forget about them. Just be careful and concentrate on your studies,” he recalls. “She loved me so much because I was the last-born son,” he says, his voice breaking.
John tries to remember that advice now, sometimes turning to Aken’ova as a mother figure. Earlier in the day he called her and said he wanted to return home. “Just stay where you are until things calm down,” she told him gently.
But the longing to be among his friends, including those released from jail, is unbearable. “I just want to be with them. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes.” Besides, he wants to get information to pass to the lawyer. He will return to the city under cover of nightfall. He will go to meet the parents of one of the jailed men, and help them with bail money. Do I think that’s a good idea?
Love can make you do crazy things, I say. “Yes,” he agrees despondently.
After a pause, he speaks again. “But if people can learn to hate, do you think they can learn to love?”
(Image description: 3 horizontal bars in background, color from top to bottom [green, white, green] for the Nigerian flag. The word “NIGERIA” is in rainbow color font and “#SOLIDARITY” is underneath it in all black)
I stand in solidarity with LGBTQ* Nigerians and condemn the passage of the recently passed legislation which violates their basic human rights.
Please SIGNAL BOOST this to show your support for our community in this incredibly trying time.
Photo credit: The Kato Foundation
By Olumide Femi Makanjuola, human rights activist, Special to CNN
updated 4:18 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
Editor’s note: Olumide Femi Makanjuola is Executive Director at The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER), which ensure human rights protection and promotion regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Nigeria is second only to South Africa as the country with the highest number of HIV/AIDS sufferers; one would have thought a better gift for the New Year from the government to its people would be to urge the national legislature to pass the anti HIV-discrimination bill that has been with them for a while.
But alas, what the people received was a bill that further exposes them to violence and discrimination. While the signing of the bill has generated much reaction on both sides, most of its supporters have based their arguments on religion and African values, forgetting that what binds the nation together is not the divergence of religions but the respect for humanity that is enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
Olumide Femi Makanjuola
What the same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill in fact does is negate the principle of fundamental human rights of association, expression and dignity. When a law does this, it runs the risk of breeding anarchy, an experience that people who are or are merely perceived to be gay know all too much about in the form of blackmail, extortion and fear of arrest.
The law also acts against the principle of public health. With rates of HIV infection and AIDS running at 3.7% for the general population, and 17.2% among gay men, criminalizing organizations providing intervention for this population puts all Nigerians in jeopardy.
Another thing to note is about the public perception of the law: while many perceive there’s casual acceptance by many Nigerians of the bill, in fact many of those who have commented on the bill have not even read it.
Nigeria’s anti-gay law called ‘draconian’
Aside from the fact that sections of this law are in direct violation of our fundamental human rights — freedom of expression and assembly, freedom to have a private and family life — and set back the provision of healthcare services, they effectively signify that it is open season to attack the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and mainstream society in general.
Already 10 people have been arrested for their perceived sexual orientation by law enforcement agencies across Nigeria, a human rights group said. The witch hunt to arrest many more by forcing names out of those arrested is also gathering momentum. The disturbing factor here is on what basis these individuals were arrested; we believe most have been detained due to anonymous tips that are inaccurate in most cases.
Many more of these violations of human rights will take place if this law is not repealed; blackmail and extortion will become commonplace against LGBT people and the Nigerians at large and little will be done to ensure that organizations providing healthcare service for this population are able to carry out their work in responding to the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the country.
We therefore implore the Nigerian President and his good government to repeal this law, which, we fear, could blow into an unbearable catastrophe for Nigeria and its citizens.
Gay-Marriage Law: US threatens to sanction Nigeria
on January 21, 2014 /
BY OKEY NDIRIBE, Sam Eyoboka & Victoria Ojeme
Abuja—Leading western countries piled pressure on the Federal government, yesterday, following President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the Same-Sex Prohibition Act 2014. The latest country is the United States of America, whose Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle threatened that the United States will scale down its support for HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programmes in response to the Federal Government’s position on the gay rights issue.
Member countries of the European Union and Canada have expressed their objection to the law but United States Ambassador to Nigeria said he was worried about “the implications of the anti-same sex marriage law which seems to restrict the fundamental rights of a section of the Nigerian population.”
This came as a former Nigerian Ambassador to US, Dahiru Suleiman, yesterday, described homosexuality and lesbianism as “animalistic and degrading to humanity.”
Also yesterday Christians in the northern part of Nigeria under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states an Abuja, hailed President Goodluck Jonathan for signing into law the anti-gay bill, urging him to ignore criticisms from Western nations, saying all religions in the country are united in their condemnation of same-sex marriage.
In a reaction to the recent move of government to outlaw homosexuality from this country, the Public Relations Officer of Northern CAN, Elder Sunday Oibe told Vanguard that Christians from the North and their counterparts in other religions have unanimously expressed gratitude to the president and the National Assembly for passing the Anti-Same Sex Marriage despite opposition from Europe and the US.
Speaking to news men in Abuja, yesterday, the American envoy said his interpretation of the new law was that “it could negatively affect the nation’s fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic”. Although the US envoy denied that his country plans to impose sanctions on Nigeria, he said: “We and other donors are looking at the issue of funding for HIV/AIDS. As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“Although I am not a lawyer, I read the bill and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we consider the law.”
The signing of the Same sex Prohibition Act by President Jonathan on January 7, 2014 has provoked negative reactions from member countries of EU, Canada and now the United States all of whom have alleged that the law is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians with same sex orientation.
Ambassador Entwistle said he was aware that “the issue of same-sex marriage was very controversial all over the world, including within the United States where 17 states out of 50 had endorsed it, but others still reject its legality”. According to him, “the issue that we see and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria is that as I read the bill, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and expression; in my opinion which applies especially in advanced democracies, once government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that this is a very worrisome precedent.”
A lecturer at Covenant University, Professor Kayode Soremekun said: “What is happening demonstrates the low level that the US treats its relation with Nigeria”.
He said every Nigerian should feel insulted that the US is threatening to stop assisting us on areas where we have the resources and human capacity to contend.
Said Professor Soremekun, “even when the West had their misgivings about Russia’s anti-gay law, they have not gone threatening them with sanctions and punitive action. We are not reckoned with in the international arena where we are getting assistance for HIV/AIDS, Malaria treatment drugs, polio virus crusade among other mundane issues”.
He continued: ”Nigeria is still a conservative society and the anti-gay law has united the ruling class and Nigerians outside government at this level of our national development. The US and its EU partners should be discussing serious issues; the leadership showed pro-activeness in trying to save the society from getting exposed to practices that are antithetical to our culture.
“We should be focussing on the items on the Bi-National Commission between both countries, but these threats show that we are nonentity in global arena. When the US is discussing with Iran on nuclear issues, they are threatening us on mundane issues”.
According to Soremekun, “we should be able to make the US and its EU allies realise that they cannot go to China to dictate their laws. China is still a communist country and they are falling over them selves to go to China and do business. We should make them realise what General Abacha did when he opened the door to China and Asian countries in the 1990s.”
Vanguard learnt that the US is committing “substantial” resources to fund the emergence of gay clubs and advocacy groups across Nigeria.
The Canadian Government had cancelled a planned state visit by President Jonathan which had been scheduled for next month. The Canadian government’s action which came within a week after the bill was signed into law is widely believed to be that country’s reaction to the President’s action of assenting to the bill which has so far enjoyed popular support in the country.
Homosexualism, lesbianism animalistic.
However, former Ambassador Suleiman, yesterday, described homosexuality and lesbianism as animalistic acts, degrading to humanity. Suleiman served as Nigerian envoy in several countries, including Pakistan, Brazil, Angola, United States of America, Ivory Coast, Poland, Australia and Sudan, among others.
Reacting to US threat of sanctions against Nigeria over the anti-gay law, Suleiman stressed the need for Nigerian leaders not to be dependent on foreign assistance for governance.
He said: “Homosexuality and lesbianism are offences against God; if any body wants to do it, he should do so secretly. It is not only animalistic but diminishes mankind.”
“If it is the money the US gives to us, let them keep the money. Nigeria is rich enough to take care of her people unlike other countries.”
I’m looking for video footage of nigeria for a thesis documentary if you have some or know someone who does please message me at
project is about yoruba spirituality/ traditionalist
weather (thunder/ lightning , rainy season, hamitan, wind blowing, etc.)
festivals such as osun, sango, street festivals etc.
oya and sango representations such as paintings/ carvings/ altars etc.
other orisa are good such as obatala, osun, orunmila, ifa etc.
environmental footage of lagos state, ogun state, osun state, other
places preferably in the south
my preference is to have video over still imagery.
Homosexuals now live in fear of Nigeria’s strict new anti-gay laws. CNN’s Vladimir Duthiers reports.
from artist and activist Adejoke Olutogbiyele on the impact of the new anti-same sex marriage act on the front lines in nigeria.
"Here is a direct link to an interview that Micheal Akanji and I granted CNN international correspondent Vladimir Duthiers last week. We both speak, in our own way, to the hateful bill that has just been signed into law. I hope you get to watch it and I am interested in hearing your thoughts about it. As many of you know I have been in Nigeria on a U.S. Fulbright grant working on issues in the gay community, so upon notifying my supervisors of the CNN interview (and other interviews I have done that will soon be published in the Huffington Post and elsewhere) I was advised to leave the country and was escorted to the airport that same day - in a bullet-proof vehicle!
I am sad to have had to leave, but happy to be safe in the warm arms of my partner during this emotionally troubling time. I want you all to know that I will continue fighting this bill using my art as a weapon of choice. Already a film I just completed entitled AfroOdyssey IV: 100 Years Later, will be showing in the United States, Spain, Germany and Nigeria this year. The film outlines the struggles of sexual identity in our community especially as it relates to spirituality in Nigeria. Stay tuned for more and thanks for your support. Please LIKE AfroOdyssey IV on Facebook and join our struggle.”