Video: LGBT Rights activists demonstrates at Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK

Speaking during the demonstration, Yemisi Ilesanmi said:

We are here to speak out on behalf of all oppressed Nigerian LGBTs who have been denied a voice in Nigeria. We are here to put a face on Nigerian LGBTs. We are here to remind you that LGBT Nigerians are not criminals and are worthy of celebration. We are here to remind all those who criminalised us and are turning us into asylum seekers that we will not be silenced. We are LGBT Nigerians and we are proud.”

The demonstrators left the guests with the message “Nigerian LGBTS and LGBT rights supporters are not criminals and we will not be silenced in our fight for our human rights. We hope as Nigeria celebrates its hundred years of existence, its people will also celebrate diversity and do away with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic laws.”

Blogpost  linkhttp://wp.me/p3uryi-AZ

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Shocking and depressing migration attempts

It was shocking and depressing watching the video coverage of African men as they attempt to migrate to Europe on-board a 1squalid boat, in highly dangerous situation. Their boat engine developed a fault, they were found after two days drifting in the sea without food. They were arrested and squashed together in a horrible small cell. They were the lucky ones. Many had died trying to cross the sea illegally into Europe. Many will still die attempting the dangerous voyage.

BBC reports

The number of people attempting the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa to Italy has risen sharply, says Frontex, the EU border agency.

Quentin Sommerville gained exclusive access to one group, detained by the Libyan authorities while trying to make the crossing.

Some people may find his report from the city of Misrata distressing.

Well, I didn’t just find it distressing; I find it highly depressing and shocking.

What are African leaders doing? The politicians obviously do not care at all about the conditions their African brothers and sisters live in. It is these very conditions that force many Africans to flee their continent, sometimes employing life threatening methods just to get away. Wars, poverty and desperation continue to push people towards dangerous escape routes. [Read more...]

Boko Haram, #Bringbackourgirls, conspiracy theories, media and the mess called Nigeria.

I have so far refrained from writing about the Nigerian ‘missing girls’ for some reasons. Firstly, I wouldn’t want to cause any more pain to families of the missing girls, if indeed there are missing girls.

download (3) Secondly, I am not a fan of conspiracy theories.

I got a glimpse of just how much Nigerians love conspiracy theories when Lee Rigby was hatched to death on the street of London by Nigerian/British born Islamist fanatics, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Many Nigerians went into conspiracy frenzy on social networks. They claimed it was all a set up and made the murderers out to be victims of a twisted immigration plot! Surprisingly, many of the conspiracy theorists were self-identified skeptics and freethinkers. I got fed up of their conspiracy theories showing on my newsfeeds that I reached for the block button. One thing I emphasized was how much pain their insensitive posts were causing the bereaved family. So, let’s get this out of the way, I loathe conspiracy theories, not just because they are mostly misguided but because they do tend to cause pains to the victims and their families.

However, I know that silence in the face of oppression is never the answer. if things don’t add up in the Chibok kidnappings, better to voice concerns than keep silent especially since I can’t keep saying ‘No comment’ whenever i am asked to comment on the issue.

Fears and Suspicions

Boko Haram is real. It is a monster that has claimed many innocent lives and blown children up in their dormitories since it started its nefarious activities in Nigeria. However, the sad truth is that some prominent Nigerian leaders and politicians have at one time or the other befriended, dined and wined the monster called Boko Haram in an effort to score a point over their political opponents. It is now blowing up in their faces and unfortunately, it is taking innocent victims and casualties down with it.

When I first read that about 276 girls were kidnapped from Government Girls College, Chibok, Borno state by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, I thought “oh no, not again!” but I was actually relieved that they were not murdered since Boko Haram is more known for blowing up children  in their dormitories than kidnapping them. To be alive is to have hope. However, as events unfolded, I started wondering if truly 200+girls were kidnapped.

When I saw the headlines by some newspapers and bloggers brandishing a purported interview with one of the 53 girls that allegedly escaped, I suspected foul play. Only a line or two was attributed to the girl and there were contradictions. It didn’t add up. It smacks of a badly written nollywood script.  At that point, I thought it was just some bloggers trying to get hits on their blogs with made up stories. However, recent events point to the possibility that this is beyond irresponsible journalism and overzealous bloggers. It seems in the case of the kidnapped Chibok girls, the more you look, the less you see.

A state of emergency was declared in Borno state before the girls were kidnapped. How come the insurgents did not encounter boko_haram561_2any police road blocks, especially when it is virtually impossible for civilians to go about their legal, normal duties without encountering police palaver? How did the terrorists operate for hours in the night with heavy weapons in a place where there is a curfew?  What is the use of declaring a state of emergency when trucks could be moved into a school to abduct 200+ girls without encountering security barricades?

It took a lot of questions and pressure before the principal of the school could come up with the names of  some of the missing girls. They were supposedly in school to prepare for their GCEs. I presume they are also registered to take the GCEs, so how difficult could it be to get their names and pictures? How is the public supposed to help alert police to sightings of missing persons when they have never seen their pictures? Did they not think that people are bound to ask for names and pictures of the missing girls? Why on earth did some people, especially northern leaders, take it as an affront? Why turn this simple, logical request into a political row?

Nigeria is a country where people can be paid to do anything or be anything you want them to be.  It is a country where unionists sometimes pay workers to join workers’ protests for minimum wage. Nigeria is a country where you can pay strangers to cry at a funeral and pretend they are relatives or friends of the deceased. The belief is that people wailing and crying their eyes out at a funeral is a sign that the deceased was a good person. Needless to say the cries of the paid strangers is a spectacle all on its own.

What is my point here? I was not surprised when it was pointed out that the woman who was arrested during the meeting with the first lady, had earlier claimed that her daughter was one of the abducted girls. It turned out this was a lie. While her arrest on the alleged order of the first lady (who actually has no such power but of course little facts like this won’t stop power drunk Nigerians from exercising powers they don’t actually have and won’t stop ass-licking police officers from doing the bidding of the rich and powerful) is despicable one must not lose sight of the damage false claims like this does to police investigations.

It is one thing to organise protests to demand the return of the abducted girls but it is quite another to give misleading information that could actually jeopardise the investigation. Her actions could very well be termed as perverting the course of justice, which is a very punishable offence in democratic countries. So while we condemn the actions of the First lady, do not forget to condemn the false information this woman fed the public. Which also begs the question, how many other women out there have falsely claimed that their children were among those kidnapped?

It was also reported that the President paid 1 million naira each to the parents of the missing girls. I doubt if this was true, but well, it is Nigeria and it could well be true.  If true, one must wonder, what is the payment for? How come we couldn’t have the names of the entire 276 missing girls but somehow, the president had names of their parents and paid out a million naira to each of them? Was it a death payment? If this was a case of fabricated lies, irresponsible reporting or more dirty politicking, there is a danger that this would cause more people to falsely claim that their daughters were taken. Yes, if money would be paid, many Nigerians would try out their luck to claim the bounty.

These children were missing for 3 weeks and little or no action was taken by the government. However, when the hashtag  #Bringbackourgirls went viral and international government got involved, seasoned and emergency activists started organising protests. Where exactly are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends of the missing girls? We have not really read much or seen the faces of the 276 aggrieved parents of these missing girls. While doing a little online research on this, I stumbled on this post which said the villagers actually tried to ambush Boko Haram terrorists with sticks and machetes shortly after their children were kidnapped. If true, how brave of them!

Which again brings us to the question, where were the security force when this was going on? The villagers allegedly gave a statement at a police station when Boko Haram group was still very near, but nothing was done. Has the DPO been questioned about this? Has any punitive measures been taken against the officers or are they part of a higher conspiracy to protect Boko Haram whenever they operate?

A lot of security votes go to the area considered prone to Boko Haram attacks. Governors enjoy bounties in the name of providing security which judging by the deplorable state of security in their states, they never did. Is it too much to ask that these Governors account for the security monies allocated to their states? Or is it a case of ‘Touch not my anointed or else we will all go down’?

I fear that even if no one was kidnapped, if it was just a ploy to destabilise the election campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan by the disgruntled northern politicians and a ploy which was played to the fullest by opposition parties like ACN, in all this nasty politicking, we must not lose sight of what is at stake; innocent victims.

Yes, my fear is that even if no one was initially kidnapped, the terrorist group have been provided a goldmine to exploit in this tragedy. If they have not already done so, they are likely to kidnap some girls or who knows, come to some arrangement with some 10372590_633696880042163_1323557924011214755_nnorthern leaders to provide some girls as bait. I suspect that even the girls that were shown on the video reciting the Quran could just be an arranged political clip. Yes, Nigeria is in such a mess that its leaders wouldn’t hesitate to drag us deeper into their dirty politics.

The Governor of Borno state, Governor Shettima  ordered three days of prayer and fasting in the state and now he is suddenly receiving messages about the intentions of Boko Haram. I wonder why, after insistently claiming that they do not know the whereabouts of the abducted girls, Governor Shettima and the Northern Elders suddenly have information on the whereabouts of the abducted girls?

As #Bringbackourgirls went viral and international support grew, the northern leaders now have information materialising from thin air that Boko Haram does not intend to harm the girls but would consider trading the girls for imprisoned Boko Haram members. This is highly suspicious plus it provides a very dangerous if lucrative reason for Boko Haram to have some girls in custody to carry out the exchange.

Northern Elders have said that the Government ”should pay billions as ransom to Shekau and release all detained Boko Haram members” and that there must be ”no foreign forces in Nigeria”. They have also demanded that ”force should not be used” in securing the freedom of the abducted girls. Really, i mean really?

So yes, my fear is that even if they did not have any girl in custody, they have an excuse to want to kidnap girls or at least have girls they can bargain with. So in all these dirty politicking, there are bound to be innocent victims. And from all angles, the victims are bound to be innocent girls, forcefully kidnapped or actually pawned out by their parents or family members. Yes, I fear that this is about to get dirtier. And if children are not already the victims, they will be the victims.

International security forces

There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is a mess. I am happy that the international community is finally getting involved. However, we need to be clear on the terms of involvement. Is this a humanitarian intervention out of the goodness of the heart of the countries offering to help or is it purely a business download (1)transaction?

If it is a business transaction, how much exactly is it going to cost Nigeria if it accepts the help offered by USA, Britain and China to find the missing girls and fish out Boko Haram?

As I said about the Syria crisis, I do not care if the cost of saving lives involve paying with oil or diamonds because lives are more important than mineral resources. However, it would be helpful if the USA, Britain, China and whatever other international community offering to help would just state clearly on what terms they are offering the help.

These countries have an expertise Nigerian clearly lacks. The question is, are  they offering this expertise for free because they care so much about the missing girls and truly want to bring their abductors to book or is their expertise going to involve oil barrels and/or having a hand in choosing the next ‘elected’ Nigerian government officials? It would really be appreciated if Nigerians know the terms and conditions of this ‘generous humanitarian’ efforts to #bringbackourgirls and hopefully bring Boko Haram to justice.

Yes, Nigerian government is corrupt. Nigerians already know this, so US Secretary of State John F. Kerry is not exactly telling us anything new. I don’t think US is in Nigeria to do a survey of how corrupt the Nigerian government is. The mission is to help #bringbackourgirls. Nigerians already have a good idea of how corrupt our government is, thank you.

Nigeria, a hotbed of hypocrisy 

Nigeria is a mess. The northern leaders who are suddenly aghast that children are going to be sold as brides have forgotten that they are also the ones who introduced sharia law into Northern parts of the country with the hope that they could use it to justify their many child brides. Senator Ahmad Sani Yerima, who introduced Sharia law when he was Zamfara State Governor, is a known paedophile and he justifies his penchant for underage child brides using the Quran. Today, he is a serving Nigerian senator. The lawmakers that are today condemning Boko Haram for its threat to sell the missing girl as brides, were all guests at this paedophile’s wedding to the 13 year old girl he bought. The hypocrisy is truly disgusting.

Nigerian Lawmakers sit everyday with this known paedophile, making laws for the country. They lack the moral ground to cry wolf over the intention of Boko Haram to sell the abducted girls as brides. After all, when the paedophile in their midst bought his child bride, they all celebrated with him at the National Mosque and congratulated him on importing a beautiful 13 year old child to add to his harem of child brides. Yes. Nigeria is a hotbed of hypocrites

Media mob mentality

I wonder why it took the media and international community so long to eventually acknowledge that the abduction of three hundred imagesgirls was worth reporting. The kidnap was reported in all major Nigerian newspapers more than 3 weeks ago, some foreign newspaper also published it. The report managed to make the obscure corners of some international news and foreign papers.

However, the minute a deranged looking black man who calls himself Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, posted a video where he threatened to sell the kidnapped girls because, well, girls are supposed to be wives not go to school, this was all it took to incite the international community. Suddenly, the video raised the ire of civilised nations. “Who does this barbarian thinks he is?”, they asked. “Are Africans still this barbaric?”, many wondered. “Islam is really the religion of the insane”, many concluded. “Let us go as white knights in shining armours and rescue the girls!”, they screamed!

Hmm, the girls were not deemed newsworthy or worthy of rescue just three weeks ago, but well, post a video of a black Islamic terrorist ranting that girls should not be educated and threatening to sell the missing girls off as child brides,  and we suddenly have no shortage of white knights in shining armours.

Help is good, but it would be great to know one can get help without relying on media shock tactic.

My problem with the hastag ‘#bringbackourgirls’

The hashtag #Bringbackourgirls makes me cringe. ‘Our’ denotes property. The girls are not our property; they are humans withdownload names and faces. They don’t belong to us. They don’t belong to the terrorists. They are not even the properties of their parents because children are not properties.

It is a cultural language that I loathe so much. ‘Our wife’ is often used by the in-laws of a woman basically to denote that she is their property. When an African man takes his girlfriend home to meet his family and they start referring to her as ‘our wife’, beware. Although, most women see it as a sign of acceptance into the family, but underneath the facade is that patriarchal connotation that she is now their property. I loathe it when anyone refers to me as ‘Our wife’ or ‘OUR women’ because many tend to use this when talking about the ‘chastity’ of ‘their’ women, of ‘their’ African women.  ‘Our women’ or ‘our girls’ are words used to keep women in line, it says: You belong to us. You will do as you are told. You will keep the honour we impose on you. You will live up to the roles we set for you because you are OUR Woman.

Therefore, when I see the hashtag #Bringbackourgirls, I cringe. I cringe because it strikes me as yet another way of saying the girls belong to us. The girls are our property, not that of Boko Haram but are our own property, the property of Nigerians, the property of the world. No, they are not our property. They are their own person and they deserve our help whether or not they are OURS!

Some foreigners are leaving such comments like “No, these abducted girls are not our American girls. They are not our British girls. They are Nigerian girls, they are Nigeria’s problem.” Hmm, can we just pause a minute to recognise that it is not about whether they are our property or not, but that they are first and foremost vulnerable human beings in dire need of help.

Conspiracy theorists 

For the conspiracy theorists who are so opposed to America coming into Nigeria to provide the intelligence work needed in eradicating Boko Haram, because they are convinced the big old evil capitalist America is after Nigeria’s oil, I’d say, so what? Your ramblings about America coming into the country just for your oil are pathetic. It is pathetic not because it does not have a ring of truth to it, but because Nigerians might actually fare better economically if our damn oil was controlled by entities other than our corrupt government and its cronies.

All Nigerians have to show for the Federal government control of our oil is lack of stable electricity supply, deteriorating educational system, lack of basic amenities, no good water, no security. Many Nigerian families have lost a loved one to road accidents caused by bad roads. Access to good healthcare is nonexistent. Unemployment is so high that it is a surprise that the poor are not eating the rich in broad day light yet. What good thing do Nigerians have to show for government control of our oil? Misplaced pride, I guess.

Yes, I wouldn’t want America or any other country to come into Nigeria to play dirty politics, which is why I would rather all Nigerians make a loud call to ask America, UK or China to declare exactly what the payment for their help would be. Let us know, let all Nigerians know. Maybe this would stop the conspiracy theories. Maybe this would help save us from a corrupt government telling us in 10 years time that the money we think they are looting is actually going towards paying for America’s help in eradicating Boko Haram.

All I am saying is, as a Nigerian, I appreciate any help that would eradicate Boko Haram, but please state your terms very clearly. Let us know what we are paying and let us get our money’s or oil’s worth. Transparency and accountability are what we demand from the forces coming into our country. I know it is sad that we cannot even trust our own government to give us accountability and transparency. However, those are words American government throw around a lot, so maybe, just maybe, in this transaction to bring back the missing girls and help eradicate Boko Haram, America can please respect us enough to show accountability and transparency even when our own Nigerian government won’t honour us with such words or actions.

One thing that is unfortunately glaring is that children (if not already) will be the victims in all these dirty politicking. No child deserves to be used as pawn in the dirty mess that is Nigeria. Even if it was one child kidnapped, that child deserves to be rescued and if it takes the international community coming in to rescue that child, then so be it. Even if it takes paying with our oil to ensure that no child is ever put in danger by Boko Haram, so be it.  The life of every human being is worth more than oil. If What Americans want for saving the lives of the girls is oil, well, negotiate and give it to them. At least let us know it is a business deal and not a humanitarian crusade.

It is not my wish to add to the confusion out there or fuel the conspiracy theories. However, facts must be examined.  Boko Haram is an evil entity that must be wiped out. Right now, it is not about who created and fed the monster. If those who created the monster that has now grown beyond their control can be brought to book, that would be great. However, the most important thing is , if there are  kidnapped girls held by Boko Haram, let us do all we can to rescue them from the clutches of evil, and ensure no one is ever made a victim of the terrorist group again.

Boko Haram kills in the name of God, AGAIN; Nigerians pray to God for solution, AGAIN.

The notorious Islamist terrorist group, ‘Boko Haram’, strikes again in the name of Allah, this time killing more than a hundred bomb-m-1people and leaving hundreds more injured with some lying critically ill in the hospital.  In the early hours of Monday 14th April, 2014, members of the religious terrorist group, Boko Haram, sets off a bomb in a crowded bus park in Nyanya,  a highly populated area in the outskirts of the federal capital territory, Abuja.

This is not the first time the barbaric group has committed such atrocities in Abuja. In recent past, their bombs have also gone off in  Yobe, Nasarawa,Borno, Kaduna etc. killing thousands of innocent people including school children. In the face of the seemingly helplessness of security agencies to curb the atrocities of this menacing, religious fanatic group that originated from the Northern part of the country, Nigerians are left fearing for their lives.

Sadly, waking up to the news that another Boko Haram bomb has gone off and killed many innocent people is no longer news. Seeing maimed arms, legs and rolling heads amidst burnt debris seems like a routine show now. Many Nigerians on social media scamper to post the goriest pictures of the victims of the latest bomb blast on facebook and twitter, leaving one to wonder if they derive a sort of macabre pleasure in these gory pictures. These pictures are posted without even a trigger warning alert. This act does nothing but diminish our humanity.

One other constant in this story of Boko Haram is how it always ends with the average Nigerian making comments like “May God take control”, “God will punish the evil doers”, “God will save us“ etc. When the President of the country also claim that God is in control and his political advisers issue statements saying God will punish the evildoers, what hope do Nigerians have? Well, better to get in touch with this God and make a personal deal, right?  A deal that goes like “Keep me and my family safe and I will worship you, pray to you, pay my tithes and obey you”. It seems this God is the closest we have to Superman.  Better to obey this ‘all knowing’, ‘all powerful’  Skydaddy than put hope on a government that obviously also depends on this Skydaddy to find solutions to the menace caused by people killing for Skydaddy.  The WTF of it all is as ironic as it is sad.

Nigerians pray to God to curb the menace that is Boko Haram. Many scuttle to their pastors to recite over and over again the prayer point of the week. No doubt some of the victims of the terrorists’ bomb blast must have recited their prayer of the week, but of course that did not stop them from being made mincemeat of by the deadly, barbaric, religious terrorist group.boko_haram561_2

The Islamist terrorists believe they are serving the will of Allah by declaring religious wars on infidels. The so called ‘infidels’ on the other hand know that their government has failed in providing credible security, therefore they end up seeking solace in the words of pastors. These pastors peddle anointing oils and give them prayer points in exchange for a full bowl of offering that keep the pastor in luxury, some offerings are even bountiful enough to provide some elites pastors with their own private jets.

The vicious circle of God delusion goes on. One end believes it is its duty to kill for God, so it goes on a killing rampage leaving many dead and majority fearing for their lives. The government can’t be trusted to provide security against this bandit of terrorists; therefore the people turn to God for protection. They go in droves to churches, mosques and shrines to seek divine protection. Their patronage makes the ‘Men of God’ more in demand thereby conferring power and respectability on the so called men of God. A power they in turn use to milk the vulnerable of their hard earned money, influence public policies and call for the persecution of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

The unprotected masses that are already victims of the corruption and inane policies of the government fear that they might be the next victim of Boko Haram. ‘Men of God’ feed on this fear. This fear of the unknown pays their bills and keeps them in business. In a vicious, circular way, this leads back to God or rather the God delusion.

Boko Haram kills for God, the pastors sell protection in the name of God, maybe God is indeed the solution, after all God is at the heart of the problem.

Definitely demystifying the God myth would put an end to people hiding under its name to kill or sell Imaginary cures. It is said 422578_10150654291961873_639253793_nthat those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. If we stopped believing in the absurdity called God, we will at least stop committing atrocities in its name and stop empowering ‘Men of God’, whose main aim is to prey on the vulnerable.

And talking of ‘Men of God’, let’s hope the Archbishop of Canterbury is not once again, preparing an eulogy blaming this latest killing of Boko Haram on the legalization of Samesex marriage in western countries.33770_167366599945211_100000156154826_637981_5432461_n407171_2699056189303_1043602147_2867789_1434976931_n

BOB CROW: One of the last of a dying generation of committed Trade unionists bows out at 52.

There I was at the gym trying to burn some winter excess weight in time to welcome summer in good shape and spirit when I bob-crowA858_2848373bnoticed the gym TV screens were showing the face of Bob Crow, the General Secretary of Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), with many known trade union leaders paying tributes. My first thought was: “oh no, don’t tell me he is retiring from Trade unionism”

However, when the unmistakable hair and face of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson came on the screen, I slowed down my pace on the treadmill to read what one of Bob Crow’s arch enemies had to say about him, it was then it dawned on me that this was not a retirement tribute but a death eulogy. Apparently Bob Crow had died early in the morning (11 March 2014) of what is suspected to be a heart attack. This came as a shock because just the day before, Bob was on TV making yet another threat of a possible RMT strike that has been known to paralyze activities in London.

I am saddened by the sudden death of Bob Crow.  He was one of the few outstanding Trade unionists in UK. His unwavering and unquestionable commitment to workers rights reminded me so much of the reason I became a Trade unionist. It was all about passion, commitment and a continuous fight for decent work, decent pay and a better life for all.

Trade unionism as I used to know it was not just about a career choice. It seeps into every facet of your life that eventually it becomes your life. It is a pity that many trade union leaders have lost that passion and now veered more towards satisfying the employers, government and multinationals rather than delivering to their paying members. Unfortunately many trade union leaders are no longer solely funded by membership fees but by politicians and government largesse. In fact, Nigeria which used to be a hot bed of radical trade unionism, is an unfortunate example of how low labour movements and their leaders have sunk.

Love him or hate him, Bob Crow was one unionist that could not be ignored. He commanded respect, awe and fear from friends and enemies alike. His members loved him, his adversaries hated him, and everyone recognised his doggedness. His enemies could not ignore him and those who value equality held him in high esteem._73502074_crowpicket_pa

Bob Crow is one of the last generations of left trade unionists that chose to stand firmly for the rights of workers in the face of crass capitalism that is always cloaked as progress in the workplace.

Bob Crow started working at the age of 16 on the underground and rose to become General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) from 2002 until his death. He was able to make tremendous progress in the lives of his members. Even when trade union membership was drastically declining in UK, the membership of his union kept rising. He fiercely advocated and defended the right of his members to decent wages. He was able to negotiate decent wages for his members, from the tube drivers to the underground cleaners.

Sometimes seen as divisive, he was never afraid of speaking his mind or standing up for his beliefs, principles, ideology and convictions. When he felt the Labor party was going the wrong way, he took a decisive step and led his union to support other Socialist orientated parties, which eventually led to the expulsion of RMT from the Labour party.

Often loathed by many London commuters who sometimes had their transport disrupted because of strike actions called over planned cuts and ticket office closures, still he commanded respect for standing up to the powers that be and giving the underdogs a voice in the scheme of things.

Bob Crow once said::

“You’ve got to recognise that the job you do ain’t about being nice. The job we do is about defending our members. And as far as I’m concerned, if I can get job security and decent pay for my members I couldn’t give two hoots about being unpopular.”

Conservative London mayor, Boris Johnson said of Crow:

This was a guy who really fought for his members and who stuck up for his point of view. He was a fighter and a man of character”

TUC Secretary-General Frances O’Grady described him as:

an outstanding trade unionist, who tirelessly fouRMT _73502082_tubeght for his members, his industry and the wider trade union movement”

Labor Party leader Ed Miliband said he had been a “passionate” campaigner.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said Mr Crow had been a “fighter and a force”.

His brother Richard crow said of him:

People moaned that he lived in a council house, that he never drove a car – he lived a life of the average guy in the street and that’s a rare thing these days. When people have a high office in life they fall for the big trappings of the flash cars and the big hotels and big houses. But Bob wasn’t like that, he was a genuine person of the people.”

Robert Crow (13 June 1961 – 11 March 2014) was no doubt one of the last of a dying generation of trade unionists who embraced unionism as not just a career but a life. He was an unrepentant socialist and atheist. Thank you Bob Crow for your service to the labour movement and humanity, you will surely be missed.

 

Another inglorious medal for religion as Boko Haram invades secondary school hostel, Kills 43 students in the name of Allah

On February 25, 2014 the world woke up to the news that Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group in Nigeria, ha409263_194632337300826_100002621825953_318303_1770217189_ns once again invaded a secondary school hostel, this time the Federal Government College in the town of Buni Yadi in Yobe state and killed 43 students. The terrorists in the name of Allah hurled explosives into dormitories, sprayed sleeping students with bullets and even hacked a few to death. The death toll is still rising.

Since the news of the killings broke, I have been in a kind of dazed state of mind, heavy-hearted and not able to post or say anything on it. I have been kind of numb. I am numbed, not because it is the first killing of such,  after all, just a few months ago, they did the same thing in a different secondary school, leaving about 35 young students dead. I think I am numbed because it is finally sinking in that this kind of barbarism has become normal in Nigeria. And the world would read this kind of story, look at the gross pictures of murdered children and just turn the page because it is no longer news.

We look at the horrific pictures of children with their intestines blown out by some bearded jihadists, we shake our head and sometimes express our outrage but within minutes things go back to normal. And the sad fact is these killings are now fast becoming part of what is ‘normal’. Children screaming in the middle of the night as their brains are blown up by some adults whose group’s name BOKO HARAM means ‘No To Western Education’, is now the norm in Nigeria.

I despair when I read posts of fellow Nigerians on the latest killings of Boko Haram. Many are busy calling on God (or is it Allah), to punish the evil doers. They pray for the dead students to find peace. They pray that God comfort the grieving parents. I read all these posts calling on God to act and I wonder about the logic in that. [Read more...]

Venting my concerns over Nigeria’s new Anti-LGBT Law

If only I could physically slap some sense into the hypocrites parading themselves as Nigerian lawmakers and the ignoramuses who are celebrating the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill! They had better be warned, the battle line has been drawn. Logic will supersede their infamous ignorance and Love shall triumph over their hate. Enjoy the TV interview.

 

Nigerian and Ugandan Lawmakers: The Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bills

Ugandan Parliament’s idea of putting Christ back in Christmas was to present LGBT Ugandans with a gift of life Imprisonment! The parliament has now passed the anti homosexuality bill that was first presented before the house in 2009. i

In April 2009, the Ugandan Parliament passed a resolution allowing Member of Parliament (MP) David Bahati to submit a private member’s bill in October to strengthen laws against homosexuality. The bill was proposed on 13 October 2009 by David Bahati.

According to its sponsor, it is based on the foundations of  “strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family“, that “same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic”, and “protect[ing] the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda”

The legislation strengthens the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda by introducing the death penalty for people who are considered serial offenders, are suspected of “aggravated homosexuality” and are HIV-positive. People who are caught or suspected of homosexual activity will be forced to undergo HIV tests; Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda will likewise fall under the jurisdiction of this law, and may be extradited and charged with a felony.

Furthermore, the bill requires anyone who is aware of an offense or an offender, including individuals, companies, media organizations, or non-governmental organizations that support LGBT rights, to report the offender within 24 hours. If an individual does not do so he or she is also considered an offender and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment up to three years.

The original bill stipulated the death penalty for same-sex relationships. The bill generated international outcry, US President Barack Obama described the bill as “odious,” while some European countries have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the bill becomes law. The death sentence for homosexual behaviour was later amended to life imprisonment.

Ignorance is not an excuse to deny others the same right you enjoy as human beings. The combination of ignorance and hate is indeed a deadly weapon of mass destruction. Hate kills and African lawmakers seems to breed it in abundance.

Nigerian National Assembly also proposed a similar bill in 2006 known as the Anti Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition bill . and The National Assembly passed the bill earlier this year, but like the Ugandan bill, it is waiting for the President’s assent to turn it into law. The Senate on 18 December, 2013 unanimously adopted the report of its conference committee on the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill.

Nigerian Senate President, Senator David Mark called for the President to urgently sign the bill into Law.  ‘The earlier we sign it into law, the better. [Nigeria] have many shortcomings, we don’t want to add this one to it.’  Senator David Mark stated this in his usual pompously ignorant manner.

According to him, “The law against same-sex marriage is an approval of the wishes of the generality of Nigerians who are desirous of living within our cultural bounds. “The law is not designed to infringe on the human rights of Nigerians in any way.” Hmm, David Mark probably does not consider Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans as Nigerians or even Humans.

Nigerian and Ugandan Legislators have confirmed that they are all a bunch of ignorant fools and are part of the problems dragging the African continent backwards. Uganda has also earlier this week, passed an Anti-Pornography Bill, which bans miniskirts and sexually suggestive material such as some music videos. It seems violating the rights of its citizens are what most African parliamentarians termed as keeping with tradition! For how long shall innocent lives be the victims of ignorance, hate and power?

Uganda: Existing LGBT Laws

Homosexuality is currently illegal in Uganda as in many Sub-Saharan African countries, punishable by incarceration for up to 14 years. Under section 145 of the Uganda Penal Code, the act of sodomy is punishable by life imprisonment. (“Any person who (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature . . . or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge with him or her against the order of nature commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.”). Sections 146 and 148 also further support this provision.

Nigeria- Existing Laws against LGBT PeopleDSC_0956

Under the Federal law in Nigeria, Homosexuality can carry up to a 14 year jail term. Under Shari’a law which has been adopted by 12 Northern states in Nigeria, Sodomy is a criminal offence which is penalize with death by stoning. This penalty is harsher than the penalty provided for Sodomy under the criminal code.

Chapter 42 of the criminal code, section 214, states that any person who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” or “permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”

The Penal code states: “Whoever being a woman engages another woman in carnal intercourse through her sexual organ or by means of stimulation or sexual excitement of one another has committed the offence of Lesbianism. … The offence is committed by the unnatural fusion of the female sexual organs and or by the use of natural or artificial means to stimulate or attain sexual satisfaction or excitement”

The penal codes have simply taken over the language of the British colonial provisions on “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” Although these laws were imposed during the British colonial rule, they have been adopted by Uganda and Nigeria in its post-colonial era.

Nigeria and Uganda obligations under International Laws

The adopted anti-homosexuality bills in Nigeria and Uganda contradict fundamental freedoms under Nigeria and Uganda Constitutions and also under international and regional human rights law and standards. Nigeria and Uganda are signatories to a number of international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, like many other African Nations, both countries have not held their obligations under international treaties in high regard.

The legalization of Homophobia in most African countries has created an environment of fear amongst African sexual minorities.70612_100002673874449_24624348_s The Anti-homosexuality bills in Nigeria and Uganda, if signed into law would negatively impact on human rights records and activities in both countries. However, a positive outcome of these proposed legislation is that sexuality rights have been brought to the forefront for debates.  Topics that were once thought to be taboos are now subjected to debate in the public arena although the debates have been one-sided for fear of a possible backlash.

Although there has been a deafening silence from Nigeria left on the the Jail the Gays bill and LGBT rights, some Human rights organizations in Africa are beginning to come out in support of LGBT rights and are affirming that LGBT rights are human rights worthy of protection. This is a big step forward for the LGBT community in Africa because prior to the uproar generated by these proposed legislations, human rights organizations in African countries were reluctant to openly support sexual minorities.

Also, with the threat of the proposed anti-same sex bills, many human rights organizations, media and LGBT activists were educated on LGBT issues through organized seminars and workshops mostly organized by the international LGBT community in conjunction with local LGBT activists and human rights organizations.

The international community has been emphasizing that LGBT rights are human rights and in some instances some countries like United Kingdom and United States of America have threatened to cut off international aids to countries that are threatening to impose harsher legislative provisions to further discriminate against LGBT people.

However, a backlash flowing from the support of the international solidarity for the Gay community in Africa is the counter attack by some Africans especially politicians, who believe that this is just another mission of the west to control and impose its policies on Africa countries. This has led to resistance to any form of concession to LGBT rights.DSC_0951

It is not certain whether or not these adopted anti-homosexuality bills would be signed into laws in Nigeria and Uganda, however, the mere passage of such bills is detrimental to the rights of sexual minorities.

Last year, Uganda Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga said that the bill, which originally mandated death for some gay sexual acts, will become law before the end of Christmas. “Ugandans are demanding it,” she said.  It was however not passed last year, I guess Santa Claus was delayed somewhere in the North Pole!

Nigerian and Ugandan lawmakers, by passing the ‘Jail the Gays‘ bills have shown the world just how hateful, intolerant and bigoted they are. Their gift of hate to  Nigerian and Ugandans LGBTs is hugely supported by religious believers especially USA Evangelicals. Talk about putting Christ in Christmas! Really horrendous, I hope they choke on their hate-filled Christmas gift!

Related link- Trilogy: Debunking the African Homosexuality myths

Sex Workers Need Rights Not Rescue!

imageDecember 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. From a feminist and also a trade unionist perspective, I know supporting Sex Workers’ Rights is the logical thing to do.

As I wrote in my blog post ‘Organising Sex Workers Within Mainstream Labour Movement’,  the stigmatization and consequent exploitation of sex workers would be minimized if sex work is accorded its recognition as a bonafide job; a real job which has its challenges, rights and protections under the law like every other job. Criminalization of sex-work in many countries and jurisdictions makes it difficult to create a safe, enabling environment and workplace for sex workers.

The continued criminalization of sex-work, rather than serves as a deterrent has only succeeded in exposing sex workers to violence, intimidation, harassment and exploitation. [Read more...]

The Dictators Are Not Only Those

The Dictators Are Not Only Those…A poem dedicated to a dear friend COMRADE OLAITAN OYERINDE. He was assassinated on May 4, 2012 at about 2am at his residence in the Government Reservation Area, Benin, Nigeria.

At the time of his death, he was the private secretary of the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He was also the deputy secretary of Nigeria Labor Congress. Olaitan Oyerinde was a bright young life lost to Nigeria’s ‘do or die’ dirty politics. [Read more...]

Adieu, Nelson Mandela; the Great Madiba!

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Nelson Mandela was probably the first name I ever associated with Human rights during my childhood. His relentless struggle against apartheid nurtured in me the fire against injustice. I identified with his struggle for Freedom and Equality; he was my human right hero and a living lesson in compassion and forgiveness. To me, the name ‘Mandela’ was  (and still is) synonymous with anti-apartheid, defiance against injustice, fight for equality and a passion for justice. It later became synonymous with Forgiveness. [Read more...]

Torn About Syria: Seeing beyond the numbers and statistics

The use of Chemical weapons must be condemned but it is a pity that all it took for the world to finally sit up and notice the heinous human rights crimes in Syria is a threat of chemical weapons that could affect us.  It is as if the world is saying the indiscriminate killings in Syria do not matter as long as there is no threat of breaking a ‘No chemical weapon’ Convention that could come to haunt us all. Must we wait until there is a direct or indirect threat to us before we notice the sufferings of another?

The use of chemical weapon in warfare was condemned as abhorrent a long time ago. The first international agreement limiting the use of chemical weapons dates back to 1675, when France and Germany came to an agreement, signed in Strasbourg, prohibiting the use of poisoned bullets. The anxiety about the large scale use of Chemical weapons intensified following the horrors of World War 1 finally culminating in the adoption of Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The agreement is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Yes, the ban on chemical weapon is an international agreement, it should be respected. However it is sad that Syria is in the news for the alleged use of chemical weapons that killed hundreds of people but Syria had been in the background even though in the past three years of Syrian war, hundreds of thousands have been killed, more than 2 million displaced and an estimated 1 million children become refugees. [Read more...]