What Price, Culture?

The world is talking about the recent signing into law of Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition bill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, significantly more of us Nigerians seem to be in support of the new law than against it.

But stories of police rounding up ‘gay suspects’ to torture confessions from them, and the particular incident of a young man who was publicly flogged, have sent chills down my spine. We mustn’t forget that these are our children, our sons and our brothers.

All too often as a nation, I think we allow ourselves to be swept along by high emotion and popular sentiment, not stopping to consider what we do, why we do it, or the implications of our actions. We justify this refusal to debate, usually, by brandishing culture or religion. Where one fails, the other usually does the trick. And when both guns blaze, I generally find that at the root of that protest lies fear.

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Six Million Dreamers, with Eyes Wide Open.

My friend Ifeanyi Uddin challenged me to write, so I write. I feel honoured that he would indulge a guest post from me, although I am unconvinced that my thoughts could be interesting to anyone other than he or I.

Lately, I find that I am obsessive about issues affecting the economics and politics of Nigeria. I am impatient with news coverage, domestic or international, and carry with me a building sense of anxiety. I wake with it, sleep with it and go about my days with it. It is interesting that this feeling, that has me typing this piece at two o’clock in the morning as 2013 comes to a close, is one that I did not have 18 months ago, when I left Nigeria for the UK on a sabbatical.

I left my heart in Nigeria, with every intention of coming back home, and there has never been a desire to build a new life elsewhere. So nowadays, this sense of what sometimes feels like panic follows me. I am afraid, I believe, of two things. First, that time is running out. Second, that this feeling will build up until I explode, an internal combustion of sorts. Until I am scattered in a thousand pieces and strewn alongside dusty roads spread across the length and breadth of my country. No hyperbole here — that is how I imagine it.

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