ictators often begin by appealing to either ethnicity or religion. They first narrowly define their identity and then latch on to a populist agenda to gain support. In the end, the aim is to retain power as long as possible. Recently a number of African leaders have been in the news because of their stance on homosexuality. The Gambia president Yahya Jammeh, posturing about homosexuality and relationship with the common wealth, the recent signing of bills criminalising homosexuality by both the president of Nigeria and that of Uganda are signs that all is well with African countries.
Aging President Yuri Museveni of Uganda caught a pathetic figure on television as he attempted to justify the criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda before signing the bill. Apart from his absurd reason for his action, what troubled me more was the cheers of supposedly Christian supporters of the Act. It reminded me of what I felt in September 11 2001, when pictures of Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some other Islamic countries rejoicing at the terrorist attack in New York was flashed all over the world. I wondered then, why a human being can find evil so thrilling. I am alarmed at what I see sweeping through Africa in the name of religion and morality.
The questions that continue to agitate my mind are: why do some religious people rejoice in the face of evil and great injustice? Why do men justify evil towards others in the name of a loving God? Mr Museveni claims that he is criminalising homosexuality because he was told it is as a result of choice. The president of Nigeria and Gambia hedge their bigotry and intolerance on their different religious convictions and ignorance about the concept. Now, if we assume homosexuality is as a result of choice as proposed by President Museveni, does it them justify its criminalisation and the persecution of homosexuals? Why should human beings, who are created with the power of choice, be persecuted for exercising that choice? Is this not intolerance? Where is the choice, if one only has to choose what some people would approve? Are these men wiser than God? Of course, only dictators or leaders who lack good understanding of individual liberty and autonomy would see the logic in the criminalisation of what God allows, but condemns. It shows a fundamental difference in attitude to life, peaceful coexistence, equality, justice and what makes for a peaceful coexistence and good a society.
The Christian religion which Ugandans and Nigerians and some of the other countries which have criminalised homosexuality cite as the reason for their bigotry, intolerant and hateful attitude to homosexuals is a religion of liberty. It talks about God’s law of liberty, tolerance, justice and love. I do not know much about Islam, but I am not surprised at its attitude to homosexuality because it demonstrates aggressive, intolerant and cold hearted attitude to sinners by way of what the sharia prescribes for those who break its laws or choose what it condemns. In the Bible, Jesus makes it clear in the parable of the tare and wheat that sinners and saints should live peacefully together in this world, until the harvest. To those who wanted to remove the tares from a field of wheat before harvest, he said, leave them, ‘wait until the harvest’. He preached about loving sinners and hating sins and doing unto others as one would like others to do unto him. I have search for any element of these in this law from supposedly Christian countries (religious) and have not seen them. What I see, is a people, who are driven by hate, intolerance and bigotry in the name of God.
Earlier in the life of Apostle Paul, he was an intolerant, hateful and bigoted Pharisee who persecuted and killed Christians, however, when he found the truth about God, he said that God has made them of many nations of one blood and that in Christ Jesus there are no Jews or gentiles, no males or females. He accepted the teaching of non-discrimination, equality, justice and tolerance of differences and plurality of views, which Jesus preached and chided the Pharisee’s for their bigotry, intolerance and hateful attitude to sinners. He said it loud and clear that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life. However, he did not say that the righteous should kill the sinner or make their lives hell before the harvest. Elsewhere, in the Bible, John said that we should love one another, whoever hates his brother is in danger of hell fire and that we and should not judge.
Therefore, there is no honest biblical justification for the criminalisation of the sin of homosexuality, the persecution homosexuals and bigoted attitude towards them, which is currently being celebrated in many African countries. It is a clear expression of bigotry and primordial attitude towards people who are different. It is a sad time in the history of Africa, and would appear to be the beginning of a dark age of intolerance, bigotry and ignorance, akin to the dark ages of Europe, before the renaissance and enlightenment taught a religiously ignorant, intolerant and bigoted Europe, the true meaning of liberty, tolerance, justice, love, equality and godliness.
It is this same primordial, attitude, paranoia, projections, hate and prejudice, which is driving the many conflicts conflagrating Africa. Today, Somalia, Central Africa Republic, Sudan and Nigeria etc., are consumed in destructive and hateful war, informed by the same attitude which justify the scapegoating of homosexuals. This is the result of years of tyrannical and corrupt rule by African dictators of which Yuri Museveni is one. These men who impoverish Africa through corruption, and ethnic and religious bigotry, see the vilification of homosexuals a convenient distract from the realities of their evil rule. They are content to continue to offer the devil and sin as reason for the poverty, suffering and ignorance of their misrule.
The realities of the current hate campaign against homosexuals cut across social classes and educational attainment. The bigotry is supported and sustained by some educated Africans living in developed countries and in the countries.Below are few of the mails I have received from supposedly educated Nigeria who support the persecution of homosexuals.
“Gentlemen, borrowing a leaf of courage from Nigeria, Museveni has signed the new Ugandan Bill prohibiting the practice of homosexuality evil and anathema on the soils and coast of Uganda. I am giving this information primarily to our closet homosexuals on this forum so that they should prepare themselves for life imprisonment when traveling to Uganda to 'enjoy' their lotus sexual bestiality” Basil Effiong (Ph.D.)
“Eke, the idiocy in you is your homosexuality. Please, never you dare going back to Nigeria, lest you will be in jail. Stay in your rotten UK and practice your homosexuality. The joy in human freedom in Nigeria is that Nigerians can choose to live wherever they like in the world without any official restriction. Leave Nigeria alone and continue to live in the pit of your homosexuality in UK. Nigerians are not British or Americans and respect the right of millions of Nigerians to be different” Basil Effiong PhD
Basil, thank you for your thoughtfulness. The idiot, Eke, should tell Nigerians in his frustrated and hopeless articles on nigeriaworld how much medical technology and entrepreneurship he has brought home to Nigeria in his donkey years of living in the UK. A homosexual CAN NEVER teach Nigerians how to govern or develop Nigeria. It is only Nigerian gays and lesbians abroad that care to read the trash he churns out on that website. Femi Adebayo PhD. In other mails, they have called me all sorts of names and threatened to punch my face or attack me if I ever set foot in Nigeria, all because I speak out against their bigotry and intolerance.
The people who sent the mails referred above have led an interne campaign against me and falsely claiming that I am a homosexual because I speak out against the evils of intolerance and bigotry which is really the forces behind their attitude to homosexuals. Even though they claim to be Christians, they are prepared, to lie, misrepresent facts, falsify facts and bear false witness. This is how far they are prepared to go in their moral crusade to ride Nigeria of homosexuals. They would like to hide their intolerance and bigotry behind religion. They do not understand that one does not need to be a homosexual to understand the injustice of criminalising homosexuality and the threat it poses to liberty, equality, justice as fairness and peaceful coexistence.
I have given these two examples to demonstrate how deep seated ignorance, hatred and bigotry against homosexual and difference is in Nigeria and to make the point that one does not need to be a homosexual to be a victim of intolerance and bigotry.
The president of Gambia claims that the west wants to colonise his country by introducing homosexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homosexuality has always existed and every generation and every people or generation have decided how they treated those who choose it or are created in that way. While Gambia has a right to assert its independence, the reasons the president is giving for his actions and the way and manner he is going about suggests great ignorance, intolerance and prejudice.
No western country wants African countries to accept homosexuality as the norm. This is a lie which enlightened people have a duty to debunk. In most western countries, homosexuality is still seen as the aberration it is. The issue is what should be the right attitude to homosexuals and that is what some African leaders have failed to understand. What the west have done is ensure the liberty of all including homosexuals. They have changed their attitude to what majority of people in their country consider immoral choice. If you go by what people like the president of Gambia, and some religious extremists are saying about the west and homosexuality, you would think that majority of people in the west are homosexuals. Majority of people in western democracies that have adopted non-discriminatory and tolerant attitude to homosexuals are heterosexual and still believe that, it is not the natural way for human beings to express their sexuality.
What the west has done is stop persecution of homosexuals and allows them to live their lives in peace. I do not think it would be proper to teach people to accept homosexuality as the correct moral choice. What is happening in the west is that they are addressing religiously inspired prejudices and intolerance and I think this is right. They are showing more love to their fellow men than Africans who claim to be more religious. Those who think that their religious beliefs give them the right to sanction people, who do not believe like them, find this enlightened attitude to people who choose differently objectionable. I suppose existing knowledge and understanding suggests that the attitude of the west is the right attitude to things like homosexuality, which divides opinions.
The elimination of criminalisation based on religious convictions is another giant step in the evolution of the west into a free, tolerant and equal society, where individuals are free to enjoy whatever the law allows and live by their religious convictions. While the west is making their societies more tolerant and conducive for peaceful coexistence, African leaders, under a delusion of moral superiority are legitimizing religious bigotry under the illusion that they are upholding morality. They are demonstrating that that while they west are in 21st century, that they are stuck in the 15th century. The west is putting an end to allowing a particular religious dogma to inform discriminatory legislations and this is a good thing for humanity. In the west, the society is evolving towards allowing everybody to assert their freedom. This is the right attitude to differences. No one should be compelled to live religiously and any attempt to impose religious morality by law is infringement of individual liberty. People should be ready to preach whatever moral position they hold on homosexuality, but it is intolerance to criminalise it and attempt to legitimise the persecution of homosexuals.
The Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, President Museveni of Uganda and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria are demonstrating great ignorance, intolerance and bigotry by his utterances and attitude towards homosexuals. Everything they say, show how intolerant, prejudiced, uniformed and unenlightened they are. Theirs’ is a religious and traditional world view that cannot explain or understand the world beyond what is written their Holy books or their traditions allow. They demonstrate the making of minds which do evil in the name of religion and tradition.
The question is what the solution is. It is very simple. Knowledge is the only weapon against ignorance. Religion and tradition have kept Africans ignorant and prejudiced for too long. In an age of internet, there is no reason why people should remain ignorant. Those who wish to help Africa combat the wild fire of prejudice and intolerance sweeping across it, should invest in the education and enlightenment of its population. Effort must be made to challenge the absurd, ignorant and prejudiced religious dogmas that predispose people to magical thinking and bigotry. The divisive influence of certain religious teachings must be recognised and opposed. While upholding the morality which religion teaches, we must oppose its ignorance, bigotry and intolerance.
There is no other way. Those who mistake sanctimonious pretentions for righteous indignation must be told that they are in error and are like Saul of Tarsus, on his way to Damascus. They must be told that they are blind, poor and wretched, but think that they see are rich and in need of nothing. The battle is not a battle of guns, it is a battle of ideas and anybody can join. We cannot allow prejudice, intolerance and bigotry to take over Africa in a world where knowledge has increased and we know much more about a God of love than those who once thought that evil spirit cause mental illnesses.
Presidents Museveni of Uganda, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia are men who anchor their intolerance and bigotry on religious and traditional beliefs and they must be confronted with the same written words, for that is the language they understand. I hope and pray that this dark period in the history of Africa will pass and soon, the sun of enlightenment, tolerance and understanding will once again shine on the most blessed and God’s own continent ,which sadly appears to be permanently in devils own hands.