Speaking on Religion, Secularism and Fundamentalism at a panel discussion organised by Workers’ Liberty on 12 February, 2015.
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
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.
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.
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
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…]
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…]
To mark this year’s international human rights day, a group of Nigerian individuals and organisations came together to adopt the Free and Equal Naija campaign to promote inclusiveness of LGBT rights as human rights.
I am a firm believer in equal rights; therefore, the Free and equal Naija hashtag appealed to the human rights activist in me. However, when I got the memo and guideline that came with the concept note, I was once again, disappointed. The memo came with the guideline-
The #FreeAndEqualNaija Campaign is not a marriage equality campaign. All advocacy outputs should be directed toward inclusiveness and accountability in the promotion and protection of human rights of all Nigerian citizens.
Once again, marriage equality is being treated as the taboo words that must not be uttered if we are to win the support of Nigerian human rights activists and organisations.
There is this growing stigma attached to marriage equality campaign especially amongst African LGBT activists. Although i appreciate the effort to speak up for LGBT rights in a country where it is a crime to do so, but as a staunch supporter of Marriage Equality, I could not fully get behind the Free and Equal Naija campaign because i did not wish to be part of anything that stigmatises marriage equality campaign. [Read more…]
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…]
Our society is not doing enough to address bullying of vulnerable young people, especially young people with disabilities. I grew up in a society where even teachers laughed at and maltreated students who suffer from learning disabilities.
There was this particular case, which even decades later, still makes me furious. Whenever I hear of children with disabilities who are bullied by adults, I instantly think of this boy in my junior high school class in Nigeria, who was constantly bullied not just by students but by teachers too.
The boy, I think his name was ‘Jamiu’, was always falling asleep during class sessions. We were told or rather, there were rumours that the boy was bitten by Tsetse fly and as a result had ‘sleeping sickness’. For years, I was terrified of flies. Obviously, the child suffered from some sort of sleeping disorder, and he constantly fell asleep in class. Teachers told us to mock him for falling asleep during class sessions. Teachers made him stand in front of the class where he was humiliated with the whole class staring at him like a freak. Since it was our first year in high school, we were between the ages of 12 and 13, but it seems the boy was much older. He was also bigger than most of us in the class. However, I rarely heard him speak. He seemed to bear his constant humiliation with stoic fortitude.
This young boy had learning disabilities and did not perform well in class. He sat at the back of the class. Looking back now, it seems that young people who had learning disabilities were always sat at the back of the class. The ‘bright’ ones were always sat at the front rows, while those who did not perform well were pushed to the back seats. The further down you are, the lower you are in the hierarchy of ‘intelligence’.
I used to feel so sorry for the child but also I was terrified to go near him for fear of ‘catching’ this sleeping disease. I felt sorry for him because he could not have been [Read more…]
As part of the celebration marking Black History/LGBT Month, I was interviewed by Tundun Adeyemo, presenter of the program ‘Outspoken’ on www.africaukradio.com. Below is a text of the interview, also available on her blog.
October is Black History/Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transsexual Month. In parts of London, people have been marking this in various ways. To help us give that some perspective is author Yemisi Ilesanmi who joins us from London to talk about her book and why homosexuality is not just an European concept.
Hello Yemisi, Many thanks for joining us.
1- You have written this book ‘Homosexuality is not unAfrican.’ Why did you write this book?
Thanks. I wrote this book to counter the erroneous impression that homosexuality is Un-African. This is a rhetoric that many African politicians keep sprouting in their bid to defend the discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and Transsexuals. With the upsurge of anti-gay bills springing up in many African countries, it became imperative to provide necessary information and create awareness on the issues of sexual orientation especially homosexuality and bisexuality. Information is power and education is key to human development.
In this digital age, where information is easily accessible, it is sad to know that many people especially Africans still fall for the homophobic, biphobic and transphobiic rhetoric that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. In the book Freedom to Love For All; Homosexuality is not Un-African, I put together a collection of my essays debunking the myths that Homosexuality is Un-African.
First, I started by clarifying the meaning of sexual orientation and providing accepted definition of the different kinds of sexual orientation and gender identity that we [Read more…]
Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day! According to Wikipedia
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as a gender identity or sexuality minority. The day is observed annually by members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies on October 11
Whether you are Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian, Gay, or even Atheist, coming out of the closet is always often a difficult experience for many. Most times, it is a decision that subjects us to a lifetime of discrimination, isolation, ostracism, and judgements not just from the society but unfortunately, also from those we care most about i.e. our family members and friends.
For me personally, all the isolation, judgemental remarks, ostracism, discrimination or jail terms in the world are not enough deterrents to keep me in the closet about my sexual orientation or non-belief.
The Freedom to be me, Freedom to love, Freedom to express my love and shout it from on top mountains, Freedom to assert my sexual and gender identity, Freedom to proclaim my non-belief in religious nonsense etc. are things I will not trade for the safety of the closets.
I cannot and must not let my Freedom to be me be curtailed by people who rejoice in wallowing in ignorance and hate.
Closets are for clothes; I am more than my clothes. [Read more…]
I am often approached at LGBT events especially at protests rallies by filmmakers and journalists who want to write a piece or make a documentary 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…]
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 indifferent 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…]
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!
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…]
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.