I have been accused of being out of touch with reality for mixing or comparing the terror of Boko Haram in Nigeria with the plight of homosexuals in Nigeria. However, I am sorry, if you cannot see the connection I can see it clearly.

My point is that what Boko Haram is doing today in Nigeria is terrorism just as what Nigeria is doing to her minorities ( the homosexuals).

The activities of both the Bok
o Haram, the Nigerian government and whoever supports the persecution of homosexuals in Nigeria have the same feature: domination of one group over the other through fear and terrorising them to succumb or adopt your own way of life. Boko Haram wants all of us to become Muslims or we all die while the Nigerian government wants all homosexuals to become straight or end up in prison for 14 years. Do you not see the connection there? I can see the connection clearly.

To homosexuals in Nigeria, the Nigerian anti-gay law terrorises, dehumanises and puts them in daily danger and constant fear for their lives and exsitence and that is exactly the tactics of Boko Haram. They are using numerous tactics including kidnapping, looting and suicide bombing to make us agree with them and be what they want us to be and not what we want to be. This issue strikes at the heart of our fundamental human right to freedom of choice, association, life and being who we are and not what others want us to be.

You cannot condemn one terror leaving the other: they are all in this together. You cannot condemn Boko Haram and yet continue to condone the persecution, imprisonment, lynching, victimisation, blackmailing and all sorts of terror against homosexuals in Nigeria. It does not work that way. You cannot have it both ways. If a Muslim wants freedom of religion in the United Kingdom, for example, s/he must also grant that freedom to Jews and Christians and to everyone else, no matter how repugnant their belief maybe to s/he. What Boko Haram is trying to achieve is impossible; and that is, making every single Nigerian a Muslim and abolishing out the Western system of education but then that is exactly what Nigerians and the Nigerian government is trying to achieve: to forcefully convert all Nigerian homosexuals to being straight. This is ridiculous!

People are born gay but even if they are not, what is wrong with that freedom of choice? What is wrong with the choice you made to become a Muslim, a Roman Catholic, an Anglican or even an atheist?

Democracy is not about domination. It is all about majority for the protection of the minority. A man is strong and his strength comes out fully when he uses that strength to defend the weak, the poor, the helpless, the minorities and in fact, whoever is need of that power. That is exactly the reason the West has been saying ‘Hey, you are getting it wrong! Do not victimise your brethren for what they do not choose. They are are your brothers and sisters and blood’. But then most Nigerians including the Nigerian government turned around to accuse the West of meddling in Nigeria’s affairs.

I do not agree the West is meddling in our affair. They are telling us the right thing. What our brain failed to comprehend, theirs comprehended it quicker. The same brain they used to invent aeroplanes, computers, trains, cars, television, underground travelling system, etc; which our brain was not able to comprehend, is exactly the brain they are using today to tell us to stop because they had already invested millions, time, manpower and efforts before coming to the conclusion that the persecution of homosexuals is not right. There is nothing wrong in saying that someone is more brilliant than you. In fact, it is a virtue to acknowledge that and that is exactly what Nigeria needs today. We must be humble enough to accept that we got it wrong before it is too late.

Even the West we are accusing of meddling in our internal affairs is the same West the Nigerian government has called upon recently to help in the fight against terrorism. Well, if you cannot accept what the West is telling you about homosexuality and even telling the West to their face to shove their aid up their ass, how on earth would you turn around all of a sudden to ask the same West for help to fight Boko Haram? Has someone sold her shame in the market place or is someone not thinking before talking. You cannot have it both ways. If you believe that you are very healthy, then, why consult a doctor; knowing fully well that a healthy man has no need of a physician? If you know the law, why consult a lawyer? If you, as a nation, have it all under control, then, why ask for help?

In fact, whatever Nigeria thinks about her internal affairs and sovereignty, the concept of globalisation has suddenly made the world a little village and what happens in Nigeria is not just a Nigerian affair but the mondial affair and the West is therefore justified in guiding Nigeria to the right path and Nigeria in the spirit of humility must accept this guidance. The world cannot keep their hands akimbo while Nigeria is busy persecuting her own minorities. But why on earth do you think that the West should leave Nigeria alone when they never allowed Hitler to have his way?

I still recall clearly the words of Israeli Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must-at that moment-become the centre of the universe”.

The situation in Nigeria is so sad from every angle. From the angle of Nigerian homosexuals, it is sad and from the angle of ordinary Nigerians it is still sad. Nigerian homosexuals are living in fear for their lives for being a minority in a very conservative country while ordinary Nigerians are living in same fear for living in a country where few nut-heads are working very hard to convert all to Islam. But I must add that the Nigerian government should be blamed for all this mess. By their policies, they installed and instilled in the mind of ordinary Nigerians the ugly concept of hatred and persecution of the minorities and those different from the majority. Today we are reaping the bitter fruit.

Nigeria fired the first shot and once you fire the first shot of hatred you cannot stop it. It must complete its target. Nigerians hate homosexuals and I have an issue with that. Also, Boko Haram hates all of us and I do have issues with that too. Therefore, the solution lies in one concept: equality for all and the protection of the right of all without discrimination.



*Chukwunwikezarramu Okumephuna is a law student at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.



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