Anti-Gay Law: Chimamanda Adichie Writes, ‘Why can’t he just be like everyone else?’

21 Feb

I will call him Sochukwuma. A thin, smiling boy who liked to play with us girls at the university primary school in Nsukka. We were young. We knew he was different, we said, ‘he’s not like the other boys.’ But his was a benign and unquestioned difference; it was simply what it was. We did not have a name for him. We did not know the word ‘gay.’ He was Sochukwuma and he was friendly and he played oga so well that his side always won.

In secondary school, some boys in his class tried to throw Sochukwuma off a second floor balcony. They were strapping teenagers who had learned to notice, and fear, difference. They had a name for him. Homo. They mocked him because his hips swayed when he walked and his hands fluttered when he spoke. He brushed away their taunts, silently, sometimes grinning an uncomfortable grin. He must have wished that he could be what they wanted him to be. I imagine now how helplessly lonely he must have felt. The boys often asked, “Why can’t he just be like everyone else?”

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3 Risposte to “Anti-Gay Law: Chimamanda Adichie Writes, ‘Why can’t he just be like everyone else?’”

  1. AdeOla 12 luglio 2014 a 23:20 #

    All praise to Adichie for logging her informed opinion in the public record. I just read that the law passed against homosexuality is more draconian than that implemented by Hitler in Nazi Germany. It is absolutely despicable and a shameful not only that it was passed but also that it is supported by the majority of our people. Here we sit scratching our heads over menaces like Boko Haram, and yet people are blind to the irrational fanaticism in their own heads. How can people say that homosexuality is ‘Western’ when at the time that Westerners came to our continent homosexuality was a gross crime in their own societies? At the beginning of the 20th century, less than 5% of the population of now-Nigeria was even Christian; in conversations about what is un-African, let us be honest. At the turn of the previous millennium, no one in now-Nigeria was a Muslim. Are the Quran and Bible so sacrosanct? Was it not people who wrote them? Did not God, did not Allah give each and every one of us a brain to analyze, critique and create our own opinions? Sometimes I throw my head back and scream, so disgusted am I with the nonsense that passes for religious zeal and public discourse in this country.

    And let us be frank. The very same sexual acts that men do with men, men do with women. What two individuals do in their bedroom is their business, not the business of the state and not the business of any body! And, homosexuality delineates an orientation. It does not necessary entail sex. What is the harm in a man loving another man, or a woman another woman? I have seen grown men essentially kiss their dogs. Is it that a crime? I cannot walk from my house to the local market without almost dislocating my knee, falling into a sewer or getting hit by okada – and yet people are up in arms over homosexuality? I barely have enough money to survive let alone invest in my future. And two men kissing is a crime? If I could but gain audience with those vultures in Abuja who passed and signed this bill, then they would know what crime is. People blame the West and, yet, in everything so many people would give their souls to emulate so many aspects of Western culture. So afraid are we of what other people might think, that we have lost our own sense of self in this country. A heavy cloud of fear, loss and frustration hangs over our heads. We breathe and we forget to cough.

    To all the movers and shakers in Lagos and Abuja; we are happy you are doing well. We are happy that you are middle class. We do not begrudge you your cars or your functioning airports or the small pockets of employment you have available. But the vast majority of us in this country, we suffer and we suffer greatly. It is the voices on the fringes of our society that will change it. We should not be criminalizing difference but attempting to understand and accept it. How can we advocate for fundamental changes in our society, political and otherwise, when we attempt to squash or demonize anything we don’t understand. Have some of you of the South stopped to consider how disparagingly you speak about your Muslim brethrens in the North? I’ve no more energy to say any more! Every day I see cesspool upon cesspool upon cesspool of intolerance and hate among some of what must be the most religious people in the world. What is that? If we suffer in this country, much more of it comes back to our blindness than we would comfortably admit. We are up in arms over Boko Haram kidnapping and bombing and yet we would whip or stone a man in the law court because he has kissed another man. Who then are we to preach to Boko Haram about human rights? In supporting a law that criminalized homosexuality, do you not realize that you tacitly support the beatings, lynching and killings of homosexuals, sexually active and not?

    Who knows the number of people like the boy Adichie speaks about are suffering, alone, abused or dead because of their God-given attributes? I witnessed from a distance 7 years ago a man attacked by a mob of young men, pushed into the bush on the side of the road, confined in a tower of old tires and then horrifically set alight all the while screaming with abandon. So charred were the remains that only bits of bone stuck out the blackened pile. I, a grown man, wept when I thought of the pain that young man must have experienced. They say being burned alive is the most painful way to die because every single nerve ending in the body is triggered. What kind of society is this? Come to later find out he was found having sex in the back of a car nearby. The other man escaped. The other paid with his life. Where is God or Allah in that? That event reminds me that we walk a fine a line between intolerance and inhumanity. I shiver when I hear people like Adichie speak publicly, so rare is it to hear lucidity and fair-mindedness expressed so openly. The reasonable people in this society need to speak up and stop hiding in the shadows.

    A poll stated that 98% of Nigerians did not support homosexuality. Surely more than 2% of our own citizens are homosexuals. So oppressed must they feel that surely some could not even be honest answering a poll? Everything we have from the clothes on our backs to the air we breathe come from God. Leave other people alone! And be thankful to God for every speck of pleasure or joy in your life, in the fact that you have a life at all. Do to others what you want done to you.

  2. AdeOla 13 luglio 2014 a 03:46 #

    Perché hai eliminato i miei commenti? Se non avete spazio per un dialogo aperto sul tuo blog, allora si dovrebbe dire così.

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