South Africa and Xenophobic Attacks: Simply No Justification

On March 20, 2015, xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban, South Africa, some disgruntled South Africans turned on their neighbours, viciously attacking foreigners, mostly immigrant black Africans. This set in motion a wave of anti-immigrants attacks. The locals accused migrants of taking local jobs. They wanted the foreigners out of their country. Since the attacks, many deaths have been recorded and thousands of foreigners have fled for their lives, with many rendered homeless and in hiding.

A Mozambican man, Emmanuel Sithole was stalked, stabbed and murdered on the streets by vicious South Africans, According to reports, many including policemen watched while he pleaded for his life.

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The Nigerian consul-general in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke said  –

Nigerian nationals living in South Africa have suffered a slew of property damages and losses including burned businesses, looted shops, scorched cars and stolen vehicles.

“Nigerians have compiled damage to their property and it is totaling about 1.2 million rand or N21 million, which will be sent to the federal government for further action,”

“I have also visited the site of the attacks in Johannesburg to assess the damage, and it was enormous.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Congress of South African Trade Unions issued a joint statement

to condemn the reckless violent attacks on African working people and nationals in South Africa with unacceptable resultant avoidable destruction of lives and properties”.

We believe that African workers have a right to seek legitimate work anywhere in the continent based on the dream and ideals set by the founding fathers such as Kwame Nkruma, Julius Nyerere, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nelson Mandela among others.

The xenophobic attacks in South Africa is a reflection of the crisis of governance in Africa as reflected by the worsening poverty and unemployment rate in the continent.

Following these xenophobic attacks, many African nationals are calling for political and economic sanctions against the government of South Africa.  The image of South Africa has indeed plummeted amongst its fellow Africans.

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However, the South African Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Lulu Mnguli has promised that the interest of Nigeria would not be hurt by criminals’ activities in South Africa. Mnguli said that since Nigeria played a key role in helping South Africa to get freedom, it would be wrong for Nigerians to be attacked in that country by any group of persons.

Well, I remember the days when the plight of South Africa was the rallying call for unity and freedom amongst fellow Africans. I grew up to great songs of freedom by great African musicians, all calling for the end of apartheid in South Africa.

I remember these days in Nigeria when volunteers visited our classrooms with collection boxes, to ask for donation to aid the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. Like many other eager schoolchildren, I used to gladly donate my lunch money. Nigerian civil servants had part of their monthly salaries deducted to a fund that was established to help South Africans fight Apartheid.

Nigerians of my generation grew to love South Africa. We grew up rooting for its freedom. Many of us learned to stand up against oppression by watching with horror the apartheid situation in South Africa and with determination to fight against apartheid and racism.

I understand that South Africans do not owe any African national for the support they were given during the difficult apartheid era; however, it is good ethic to not repay kindness with malicious hatred.

There are two words I learnt  from situations in South Africa and these words are Apartheid and Xenophobia.

Xenophobia in South Africa did not just manifest overnight, it had been palpable for some time now. In 2008, there was a spate of xenophobic violence that left about 67 people dead. Just before this horrible new spate of xenophobic attacks broke out, I was discussing this very issue with a Nigerian friend who chose to do her PhD in South Africa. I expressed concerns about how Nigerians are perceived or treated by South Africans. They tend to see Nigerians as enemies; even diplomatic relations are tinged with underlying mistrust and ego issues. I just can’t seem to put my fingers on it but it is fair to say that, based on my observations as a Nigerian, I wouldn’t hurry to take up any fully paid PhD scholarship in South Africa.

This recent outbreak of anti-immigrants violence has been attributed to the inciting, irresponsible and provocative comments of the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini. He was quoted as saying

 “As I speak, you find [foreigners] unpleasant goods hanging all over our shops, they soil our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which … there are foreigners everywhere. “We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”

President Jacob Zuma’s son was also in the spotlight for making inciting statements.

These reckless utterances by public figures must be thoroughly condemned. They should have been thoroughly condemned and actions taken to bring home the point that such utterances are not welcomed and would not go unpunished. Unfortunately, these utterances were not seriously tackled, and it ended up fuelling the already boiling state of Xenophobia in the country.

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It is however disheartening that some people have decided that the entire blame for these horrendous xenophobic attacks must be laid at the feet of colonialism, capitalism and all the ism/schisms out there.  Let us get something straight, regardless of the inciting factor, in the end only these murderous barbarians are responsible for the xenophobic attacks.

We are always quick to let despicable humans who commit crime against humanity hide under ism/schisms. A misogynist guy goes on a killing spree because women turned him down, well, poor chap, let’s blame misogyny for messing with his mind!

A sadistic guy raped a woman, posted it online and the victim becomes the object of ridicule, well let’s blame patriarchy, after all these men are just as much victims of their environment as the women. They could not help being that way, because, well, patriarchy!

Yes, patriarchy, misogyny, sexism, racism all plays their part in shaping minds and our daily interactions; they are even institutionalised systemic mode of oppression. However, when people are influenced by these fucked up mind-sets and commit atrocities, we can’t just blame the imaginary devil or the very real messed up ideologies that breed such attitudes.

We can and must call out the institutions that fuel such mind-sets, however let us not hesitate to put a face on the human criminals. These horrible institutionalised oppressions are not excuses and must not be used to mitigate atrocities committed by sane adult humans.

The person who hacked his neighbour to death is first and foremost a human being, let’s put a face on that barbarian, not just a sick ideology!

Colonialism was a conquer, divide and rule evil that set neighbours against one another and created borders and barriers to further protect colonial interests.  Capitalism breeds uncontrollable greed, and gets people competing for a living wage in unfair manners. Hard economic policies make us view our fellow humans as competitors for scarce resources, portraying them as obstacles to our progress and making  them our enemies. However, it takes a barbarian to set alight another human being just because the person is perceived as competition for scarce jobs. We cannot just blame these atrocities on colonialism or capitalism.

These barbarians have not only lost their sense of history but are a living example of man’s inhumanity to man when greed is given a free reign. Slavery, Religious wars, Racism, Sexism, Tribalism, Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia, Apartheid, Nigeria’s “Ghana Must Go” era , Garrissa killings, Boko Haram, Durban killings, South Africa and its rising Xenophobia…all these and more makes it hard not to lose hope in our shared humanity.

Greed is a strong driving force for hatred and a reliable tool of capitalism. Remember, the world has enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for everyone’s greed. However, not all the greed and ignorance flying around should take away our humanity and hope for a better world.

The hypocrisy is galling. In the 80s, Nigeria had its 5 minutes of malady when it started deporting Ghanaians from Nigeria with the slogan “Ghanaians must go”. The Ghanaians were accused of taking jobs from Nigerians. Thankfully, it did not manifest in physical cruelty, nevertheless, it was dehumanising for Ghanaians.

If only we took time to shine an unbiased light at our actions, we might be appalled at how similar some of us are to those we condemn. In the diaspora, Africans are quick to complain (as we should) about the way migrants are treated with scorn, but back home, we are always the first to put a tag on our neighbours based on their tribe. Nothing justifies Tribalism, Xenophobia, or Racism.

It is horrific and very depressing. I am not surprised about the Xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa, it has always been palpable, but I was surprised that it would once again manifest itself in such physical cruelty. Humans seem to ignore the lessons of the past when they allow ignorance and greed to reign supreme.

One thing that we all need to be clear about is that there is no excuse or justification for these xenophobic attacks. We can pontificate all we like about economy policies but nothing would make visiting our anger on innocent people the right thing to do.

While discussing this on my FB wall, a comrade postulated –

“This whole nonsense needs to be put at the feet of the ANC who failed to transform the economy of South Africa in the interest of the mass of the people. Transformation of the economy was swept under the carpet by Mandela and co all in the name of “national unity”. What you refuse to deal with will come back and bite you when you least expect it. They accepted a truncated liberation that left control of the economy in the hands of whites whilst a few blacks, the struggle veterans like Tokyo Sexwale, Patrick “Terror” Lakota and Cyril Ramaphosa have become extremely rich through the so-called black empowerment programmes.”

Nope, i won’t put “This whole nonsense” at the feet of the ANC, the blame for the murders is on the murderers. We can recognise that capitalism fuels greed but policies we do not agree with are not excuses to go on a killing spree.

No, Mandela and the policies his cabinet pursued are not responsible for the death of these foreigners in South Africa, Xenophobia is. Nationals of any country can be homeless and poverty stricken, it still does not justify killing immigrants because of what they perceive as ‘taking their jobs’.

These killings are crimes against humanity. And we should not gloss over crimes against humanity. These are barbaric, inhumane and have no place in any civilised society. The murderers must be totally blamed and condemned. Economic policies are not justification for committing heinous acts, please , let us not use this to minimise the atrocities of the murderers or hide the faces of the criminals.

These murders were not about class struggle or revolution. They are not about who planted the seeds of discord, level of poverty, unemployment or inequality. We cannot in the name of class struggle, keep making excuses for people, be they poor or rich, for atrocities they commit against humanity.

We are not in the Dark ages. We are not living in an era where life was nasty, brutish, and short. Yes, Zuma’s’s son made some inciting comment and some political groups might be planting seeds of discord to topple the ruling party, but in what part of planet earth is that not happening? Unfortunately, this is what competitive politics is all about. We cannot use these as excuses to ‘reason’ away these atrocities.

It was not Zulu’s king or phantom political parties who threw petrol bombs into foreigners’ shops and burnt humans alive. It was humans. Humans like you and me. These aren’t controlled robots, they are adult human beings with a mind of their own.

No matter the incitement, no matter the economic disparity, it is never justifiable to throw bombs into people’s houses just because we think they are taking away our jobs,  different than us, don’t practice our religion, or because they are gays, bisexuals or Trans. It does not matter whether it was politicians, holy book, or God that told us to kill; ultimately, we are responsible for the bloods of people we murder in cold blood.

Nigel Farage and his UKIP crew can spew all the nonsense they want about immigrants, but, no sane person would justify killing immigrants just because UKIP thinks they are draining UK’s economy.

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I am so fed up of pontificators who only choose to see statistics and not see the humans behind the statistics. Condemning the murders is not a debate about the pros and cons of Capitalism or Socialism.  I am a socialist, and i understand the part capitalist greed plays in this. However, socialism does not rob me of my humanism, if anything, it strengthens it.

We cannot minimise the blame of these barbarians because of some warped need to pontificate about economic policies. Class struggle does not justify racism, sexism or Xenophobia. And it definitely does not justify cold blooded murders of innocents.

Nothing justify killing another just to take out our economic or political frustrations on innocent people. It does not matter whether it was fellow Africans or whites that were killed. No one, regardless of their nationality or race deserves to be murdered as a means of expressing economic frustrations. No amount of frustration or provocation can minimise the culpability of these xenophobic murderers.

Instead of all the pontifications and postulations, we must learn empathy because empathy is much more likely to improve human relations than any political pontifications we engage in.

I see the humans who are the victims of the criminals and I see the criminals who commit the crimes. These criminals cannot hide behind any justification. Only arseholes justify cold-blooded murders.

When we say things like- “I don’t approve of the xenophobic attacks BUT poverty is rampant amongst black South Africans, the economic policy is bad, there is inequality…” , we are in a way, justifying the murderous, heinous actions of these killers.

NOTHING, and i say NOTHING, absolves the murderers of the blame.

These excuses can be compared to that made by rape apologists, a pattern that goes, “I don’t approve of the rape BUT…”

Yeah, that BUT, that hesitation, that finding loophole to take part of the blame from the criminals, is exactly where political apologetics is invoked to play with human lives.

Any leader or political party who incites hate must be called out or even dealt with. Nigel Farage and his UKIP cohorts are often called out on their racist comments on immigrants. Muhammadu Buhari was called out when he incited his supporters in the north to go on a killing rampage with his irresponsible utterances after he lost the presidential elections in 2009. Religious leaders who incite hate against gays are often called out or even charged under the law.

We can condemn the leaders who incite the killings and at the same time totally condemn barbarians who go on a killing rampage.  There can be a two-sided parallel approach to an issue. What i do not agree with is the attempt to shift part of the blame from the criminals.

The criminals are wholly responsible for their crimes against humanity.

The leaders are also wholly responsible for inciting hate.

Blaming one must not necessitate a share of blame or taking part of the blame away from the other.

If i chose to focus a post on the barbarians who petrol-bombed foreigners and burnt innocent people alive, i should not have to qualify it with  “BUT the leaders must share part of the blame.”

If I chose to, I can make another post condemning the leaders for their inciting comments and poor economic policies. I do not see why such barbaric criminals must have a “BUT argument” to take away from their blame.

As a woman, I am used to the “I don’t support the criminals BUT…”  arguments from sexist apologists, especially rape apologists. This is probably why I have such disdain for the “I don’t support the criminal BUT..” poor excuse of an argument.

For example, rape apologists will always find a reason to blame the victim for the crime of the rapist. They say shits like “I don’t support the rapist but the woman should not have worn that short dress” or “I don’t support her murderer but why did she drink when she was with a stranger”.

I do not think rapist, paedophiles, homophobes or xenophobes who intentionally go out to cause harm to others deserve to have any part of the blame taken away from them.

Also, an attempt to absolve xenophobic attackers from any part of the blame is as bad as trying to absolve rapists from any part of the crime.

The xenophobic attacks might be orchestrated from high up but nothing, not even incitement by leaders, greed, or economic policies justify the actions of these murderers.

It is unfortunate that some comrades feel the need to paint these xenophobic attacks as a class revolution or an act of economic rebellion to unfavourable economic policies.

To quote a comrade  “whilst we need to condemn the killings, we also need to understand what is happening and why people see the need to act in such a barbaric manner”.

The fact is NO ONE NEEDS to act in such barbaric manner. Not the comments of leaders, not the poverty, or bad economic policies justify any sane adult to go hack another human being to death.

These criminals are not the victims. Their grievances against immigrants cannot be used to justify crimes against humanity.

These thoughtless killings hurt but I will not let it send me into depression. I won’t sacrifice my hope and love on the altar of their greed and ignorance. In the fight for our humanity, hate won’t win as long as we have a strong sense of social justice and are committed to creating a better world in our daily actions. Every little helps, let’s do our part to spread Love, not Hate.

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Boko Haram and a Nation collapsing under the weight of Corruption, Deception and Religion

Just as I finally summoned enough interest to write about the Baga killings, news came in that Islamists terrorist group, Boko Haram, has struck again, this time in the city of Maiduguri. According to Sahara Reporters-

Top security officials just confirmed to SaharaReporters that Islamist fighters today overwhelmed the 243 battalion of the Nigerian Army stationed at Monguno Barracks. The insurgents killed an undetermined number of soldiers and wounded the brigade commander of the barracks.

Our sources said soldiers who put up resistance to the invading insurgents were killed, adding that many soldiers then ran in different directions. They disclosed that 1,400 soldiers were stationed at the barracks at the time of the attack, adding that military authorities were not aware of their exact whereabouts or how many of them had been killed. “We still don’t know what has happened to them [soldiers], but we know that Boko Haram now controls the barracks and Monguno town,” one officer based in Abuja confirmed.

When the Islamists terrorist group Boko Haram struck in Baga and killed a disputed 2,000 people , it was no longer considered newsworthy, at least not in Nigeria. I must confess that even as a Nigerian, I did not bother to check out the news, deven though the headlines screamed at me.  According to CNN –

During the raid that started January 3, hundreds of gunmen seized the town of Baga and neighboring villages, as well as a multinational military base.

Attacks started at dawn and continued throughout last weekend, according to residents.

Though local officials gave conflicting death tolls, they agreed on the massive number of fatalities.

More than 2,000 people were killed in attacks on 16 villages, Bukar said. He could not explain how he arrived at that toll.

But the local district head said hundreds of people had been killed, not thousands. The actual toll will be known after a headcount of households is complete, Hassan said.

And BBC reported an eyewitness account- 

Two days after the attack, a man who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau [the leader of Boko Haram] came and addressed us. He said: “Today, where is your government from local to highest level? You are now under our control.” And he preached to us.

After that, Shekau and many of the insurgents left the town in the hands of some Boko Haram members who are from Baga.

These men have taken control of the young women in the town. They rape and abuse our daughters.

In the evening they choose ones who are neither pregnant nor nursing mothers and take them away. They don’t bring them back until the morning. If it is not rape what are they doing to them?

I guess we are now so desensitised to the atrocities of Boko Haram that it seems more murders in boko_haram561_2the name of Allah is no longer news, at least not when it involves Boko Haram. This might sound callous or insensitive, especially since the Baga killings occurred around the time of Charlie Hebdo killings, which I took the time to write about. So, why this seemingly uncaring attitude towards the Islamists terrorists presently ravaging my birth land (Holy FSM, I can’t even bring myself to call it my homeland anymore)?

I think this ‘What else is new’ attitude towards the misadventures of Boko Haram is indeed sad and scary. When an abnormality becomes the norm, [Read more…]

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy: The five crowds that are getting it wrong

In the wake of the atrocious murder of Charlie Hedbo’s journalists by Islamist fundamentalists which led to #Jesuischarlie, it is sad that some people have chosen this horrendous time to falsely accuse the magazine of the very thing it stands against; Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Misogyny.

As Libby Nelson wrote in Charlie Hebdo: its history, humor, and controversies:

Charlie Hebdo is known for its cartoons, which are often raunchy and provocative, whether they depicted the Prophet Mohammed or portrayed the Pope performing holy communion with a condom.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was murdered in the attack, described the newspaper’s positions in 2012 as left-wing, secular, and atheist.

Below are 5 different crowds that are getting it wrong and why.

1- The “Charlie Hebdo is racist and sexist” crowd

This crowd eagerly post some of Charlie Hedbo’s cartoons with the aim of accusing the magazine of racism and L4057-1011.0sexism, without caring to dig into the context.

The context of Charlie Hebdo’s Parodies/cartoons is easily understood by the French but not easily understood by outsiders, unless they are conversant with French politics. Some of these cartoons can be viewed and understood under the piece What are some of Charlie Hebdo’s most famous cartoons?

At first glance, these cartoons might appear racist, sexist, and ill-thought-out, but after reading the contexts, this is usually not the case.

So, “What was the context of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens?”

This is what Libby Nelson has to say:

Charlie Hebdo covers often combined two unrelated stories to make a satirical point. In the context of the magazine’s leftist politics, this seems to be about spoofing not Nigerian trafficking victims, but French welfare critics, who have argued that France should cut welfare programs to prevent immigrant women from exploiting them. The cover, in this view, seems to say, “Hey, welfare critics, you’re so heartless that you probably think that even Nigerian sexual slavery victims are money-grubbing ‘welfare queens.

This is what French people have to say about it on Quora [Read more…]

Islamist Barbarians Have Struck Again!

Islamist barbarians have struck again, as 3 gunmen went on a killing spree, murdering 10 journalists, 2 police officers and injuring 7 people in the name of Allah.

BBC reports

Gunmen have attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring seven in an apparent Islamist attack.

At least two masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car.

The gunmen shouted “we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad”, witnesses say

This is truly sickening. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last time Islamist terrorists would kill to protect the honour of their attackPaedophile prophet, while shouting Allahu Akbar.

Barbaric, primitive religious fanatics and those so-called moderates, who feign disgust at these atrocities but still spew passages from their Holy books to justify atrocities, need brain transplants!

This is another blatant attack on Freedom of Expression by these barbaric religious fanatics.

It was also reported that 2 of the cartoonists killed had personal body guards because there has been ongoing life threatening messages from Islamists who feel offended by the cartoons the Newspaper published.

Imagine what it is like to be under constant fear for your life for exercising your Freedom of Expression.

I am so tired of hearing the rhetoric that people should not upset the religious community. Why should we care that religious people are [Read more…]

Choosing between the Sharia fanatic and the inept, incumbent President: The sad case of a gutless nation

Nigerians seem to have lost their memory, again.buhari and jonathan

Who votes for a man who truncates democracy?

Who votes for a man who has repeatedly shown his disdain for the rule of law?

Who votes for a man with a record of appalling human rights violations?

Who votes for a man who advocates for Sharia law in a supposedly secular society?

Who votes for a man who cares not that lives, especially young lives, were lost because he lost an election?

Who in their right mind endorse such a despotic being as a presidential candidate?

How could a decent person openly campaign for votes for this despot?

What type of self-acclaimed progressive party fields such a candidate?

I was flabbergasted when General Muhammadu Buhari, a 72 year old ex-military despot and Sharia law fanatic was adopted as the [Read more…]

#Ferguson: Mike brown and the “It is not a race thing” Apologists.

I have been unable to bring myself to write a blogpost on ‪#‎Ferguson for weeks now. Reading the updates is overwhelmingly heart wrenching. However, my sadness and pain won’t shield me from the myriad of stupid, wilfully ignorant and racist comments and memes that pops up on my newsfeed. If anything, those comments, status updates and memes contribute to my pain and anger. Michael Brown, 19, was unarmed when he was shot eight times in the middle of a street in Ferguson. And now, there is the case of Eric Garner, an African American choked to death by a white police officer.

It is disheartening when in an attempt to deny the racial aspect involved in Mike Brown’s murder, people who should know better post things like:

“This is not a race thing”

“I married a white person, my in-laws are white and they are not racists “

“All black people are not criminals; All white people are not racists”

“What if Mike brown was white?”

“Can’t we just move on?”

“But all lives matter!”

Those comments expose the comfortable ignorance people maintain on race related issues. Many white people are quick to deny white privilege. Some black people are quick to exclaim in unison with their white in-laws, “Not all white people are racists, can’t we just move on?”

An atheist black friend who should know better posted a video purportedly showing Mike Brown shoplifting, without any clarification and the first commenter, another black person, immediately wrote, “He shoplifted, he should be shot.” [Read more…]

Sensationalising the Plight of African LGBTs

I am often approached at LGBT events especially at protests rallies by filmmakers and journalists who want to write a piece or make a 04338_yemisi_ilesanmidocumentary on the ‘horrible’ situation of African Lesbians and gays (they hardly take cognizance of bisexuals and Trans).

There is no doubt that African LGBTs who reside in countries where their sexual orientation is criminalised face a daunting task. Living a closeted life or choosing to face the consequences of being out and proud in a society where one’s sexual orientation is criminalised is frightening and dehumanising. I have been there, I am still there, and I know how horrible the threats can be. So yes, I understand why the filmmakers and writers are fascinated with telling this horror story.

However, a recurring theme makes me cringe every time I am approached by filmmakers or journalists demanding that I tell the horror stories or at least provide them some graphic pictures of violence suffered by African LGBTs. There is this fascination with the horror stories and abused bodies of African LGBTs that I am beginning to wonder if it is a voyage into morbid porn and/or just another way to portray Africans as victims.

When I inform these filmmakers and journalists that I do not have pictures of abused African LGBTS to share with them, they are immediately crestfallen. It is my opinion that most of them haunt African LGBT activists protest grounds not because they are interested in the fight for African LGBT Rights but because they see the plight of African LGBTs as a way of furthering their career in Journalism or film industry.

A heart-wrenching, graphic documentary on the abuses suffers by African LGBTs and why African LGBTS need white saviours could turn a [Read more…]

Christian Association of Nigeria’s President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the $9.3m, Arms and Ammunition scandal

When President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, was presented with a private jet for his birthday on the Oritsejafor-360x27040th anniversary of his ministry, he probably did not envision it was going to be his waterloo.

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s private jet was seized in South Africa on the allegation that it was used to convey $9.3 million cash allegedly meant for the purchase of arms and ammunition. South African immigration officials discovered the undeclared money. Two yet to be identified Nigerians and an Israeli were said to be aboard the jet. According to latest reports, the private jet has been released after Nigerian officials entered into diplomatic dialogue with the South African Officials, but the $9.3m is still confiscated by South African government.

Funny enough, Nigeria’s government has moved in to defend the embattled Pastor. Government spokespersons have claimed that the money [Read more…]

Why I can’t be bothered to wish Nigeria a Happy 54th Independence Anniversary.

For the first time since I can remember, i cannot be bothered to wish Nigeria a Happy Independence anniversary. The sad part is that I feel 385935_186228838142571_185630604869061_319047_711932141_nindifferent about it. I am not angry, I am not excited, I am just indifferent. Am I finally bereft of any emotion for my once beloved country, Nigeria?

Too much is wrong with Nigeria and its people for me to care about whether it breaks up or stay together as one ignoramus, corrupt entity. The one thing i now only care about is our shared humanity. I hope no innocent lives will be further lost in whatever determines or is determining the present and future of Nigeria.

To think i once inhaled tear-gas, faced bullets and was ready to die for that country!  However, I take solace in the knowledge that my actions were not really for the country but motivated by my strong belief in inalienable human rights.

I marched on the streets and confronted the military junta because I believed and still believe in the right to determine who represent me in the seat of power as a Nigerian via the ballot box and not through military coups.

As a student union leader, in the face of oppression, detentions, and suspensions, I stood my ground to speak out against hike in school fees, cultism, and access to education for all. I remember vividly [Read more…]

“We do not learn about our history by sitting in cages or sitting in slave ships and re-enacting how many lashes we had and seeing our skins with all those abrasions.” On Exhibit B-The human zoo. A great talk by Esther Stanford-Xosei.

The Barbican center is yet to cancel the awfully racist, dehumanising and traumatising exhibition titled ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African, Brett Bailey. Exhibit B- the human zoo, is a dehumanising, racist voyeurism in the name of art.

Below is a video of a great talk by “Reparationist, Jurisconsult, dynamic community advocate and radio Broadcaster Esther Stanford-Xosei” courtesy of London Live 360 TV  It is a must watch interview!

  [Read more…]

Exhibiting Africans in a Human Zoo is not Art, it is Racist Voyeurism! Please sign this petition.

The Human Zoo exhibition ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African Brett Bailey is disgusting and dehumanising! As a black woman in the 21st century, my skin colour or body should not be on exhibition for the voyeuristic, closeted pleasure of racist privileged white people. My ancestors already suffered this humiliation, I should not have to watch it happen again under the pathetic excuse of “It is Art”.

If the people at the Barbican Centre cannot see why this is racist and dehumanising, they need to raise their social consciousness and awareness.

As for the artist, white South African Brett Bailey, I think he already knows that he is a racist asshole, afterall his reported use of the ‘N’ words testify to this.

It is not art, it is an outlet for him and his fellow racist, privileged white people to enjoy voyeuristic, closeted racist pleasure at the expense of [Read more…]

LGBT Rights in Africa: Why we need international solidarity- Interview on SkyNews

Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals from countries where their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is criminalised need international solidarity. What we do not need is seeing international leaders who claim to support our fight for LGBT rights wine and dine our oppressors.

When we watch international leaders who are supposedly LGBT allies frolicking with our oppressors, the message we get is that we do not matter. In the long run, it is all about their politics, not their words. International leaders should please WALK THEIR TALK.

Below is a video of my interview on SkyNews on the topic LGBT Rights in Africa and why we need international solidarity. [Read more…]

When we say #BlackLifeMatters, please don’t butt in with your blind privilege.

Elon James White‏@elonjames

If I say #BlackLifeMatters and your response is “Why not EVERY life?” Unfollow me. You dont get it & I dont have time to explain it to you.”

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I came across the tweet above and i had to say, “Well said, Elon James White, well said“. Unfortunately this kind of tweets always get some of my white friends on facebook in a twist. What is so unfortunate is that some of them think they are well meaning people who want equal rights for all. If only they would take a minute to do their research and understand how the society they live in works. Everyone should learn to see their own privilege, be it skin colour, sexual identity, sex birth, geographical location, religion or class.

To be blind to your privilege is to not understand or see how you benefit from the society due to your status, a status you might not be conscious of but which is enough to deny the persons who don’t have that status the benefits you get. Heck, it might even cause the persons their lives while you go around not even acknowledging that you have that privilege. Yes, it is frustrating.

A few of my very good white friends on social media think this is sad and they don’t like it when I put up such status calling out [Read more…]

Religion, LGBT rights and military regimes: Interview in Solidarity Newspaper

Kate Harris interviews Yemisi Ilesanmi

Published in Workers Liberty’s Solidarity Newspaper

How did you get to where you are today as an LGBT activist and out bisexual woman?

It has been an interesting, tasking, journey towards self-awareness. It is also a journey that has involved studying society and finding my place in it. It is a continuous journey and one where I have to constantly remind myself that I have a right to be who I am in a world that is desperate to make me into what they would rather I be.

I started being politically and socially aware of my human rights at an early age. I was born in Nigeria in the mid-70s and grew up in a society that was marred with constant military coup d’états. There was no stable democracy. It was confusing because people took to the streets to celebrate successful coup d’états. I wondered why it was a good thing for the military to forcefully overthrow elected officials. But the people’s response was that the elected officials were corrupt. However, after having a taste of what military dictatorship means, people stopped celebrating coups. This started the difficult journey towards demanding and organising for a civilian regime where they would have a say in electing their own political leaders.  [Read more…]