About 98% of Nigerians support the legal ban of same-sex relations and 87% of Nigerians say that the country will be better-off without members of the LBGT community, even though there is no evidence to support this and there is abundant evidence to the contrary. Nigeria's anti-gay law, enacted in 2014, enforces 14 years imprisonment for gay marriages, 10 years for attending any gay marriage and 10 years imprisonment for same-sex public amorous show of affection. Homophobia is pervasive in Nigeria.
As part of the 2017-2018 Fellows’ Presentation Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Ifeoma Fafunwa, a 2017–2018 Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow at the institute, explores solutions to the homophobic environment in today’s Nigeria and shows a short film on the perception of some Nigerians. The presentation is titled Who Would Choose To Be LGBT And Nigerian?.
(Photo: Ifeoma Fafunwa)
Ifeoma Fafunwa is the creator of the popular stage play HEAR WORD! Naija Women Talk True, a collection of monologues based on true-life stories of Nigerian women that challenges social, cultural, and political norms. She and the cast have been in the United States showcasing the brilliance of the play. She is also the founder and creative director of iOpenEye. She directed one of Nigeria’s cultural submissions for the London 2012 Olympics, and her work has been featured at LIFT, London’s festival for new forms of theatre.
In Who Would Choose To Be LGBT And Nigerian?, she speaks about her upcoming project, a socially transformative stage play. Using theatre informed by research on cultural norms, popular opinion, and true stories from the Nigerian LGBTQ community, Fafunwa examines the roles that women and religion have played in the systemic propagation of this culture of intolerance. By highlighting these roles in Nigerian society, she aims to portray the unique potential women possess as societal change makers.
(Photo: Guardian Nigeria/Jerrie Rotimi)
The presentation is deeply moving because there are so people struggling with their sexuality and living in secret, citizens who are LGBT and live with a portion of their lives shrouded, hidden and disguised, because of how deeply homophobia is woven into the fabric of the Nigerian culture. The hypocrisy is deafening, and people wield the Bible like a sword against homosexuals while flouting the rules contained in the book - usually more than one rule at once.
Nigeria is diverse, chaotic and complex, but yet Nigerians have stupidly managed to agree on one thing – homosexuality is an abomination and it must be eradicated. Ifeoma's exploration of the topic and the eventual project that comes out of it, may yet give voice to LGBT Nigerians and people who are supportive friends, relatives and families of LGBT persons.
Watch the full presentation below:[embedded content]
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