As I marched with Matthew popularly known as Blaise on Twitter, the ‘Open gay person in Nigeria’ as he says on his bio, all I could think of at the time was how brave this young man is. I kept on wondering how he could be so comfortable being uncomfortable? It dawned on me then that he was not uncomfortable, in fact, he was being himself, simply existing and living out his reality. He was resisting the system of oppression just as I was there fighting for all our lives.
I am the uncomfortable one because I am the typical Nigerian raised to look out for the interests of homophobia. Afraid to stain my white. Worried about what people will say or what people will think if they see this young man holding up this banner screaming QUEER LIVES MATTER and taking short breaks to whine his waist and twerk in the middle of the road under the heat of what was supposed to be an #ENDSARS protest.
I am the one uncomfortable with his audacity and deep down I want to say but is it really the time for this? What then is it the time for? The fight against injustice. The fight for all lives – our lives. The fight for freedom. There was no more confusion when common sense saved me from my inclination and I marched on with him screaming – WHAT DO WE WANT? #ENDSARS! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW! And slowly but loud enough QUEER LIVES MATTER.
Queer rights are human rights, it is that simple. To think that the fight for the rights of the LGTBQ community is a separate fight from the fight for justice on our fundamental human rights is to dehumanize them, that in itself is an injustice to strip a person or people of their humanity, by doing that we inflict injustice on ourselves, we make a statement to ourselves that our rights can be segregated and therefore it can and will be abused. The value we place on any human life should not be quantifiable, the same principle should apply to our rights. This is a fight for our lives, all lives.
We’ve suffered great losses, and we achieved small wins. We the coconut head youths had a long run these past two weeks and it’s been worth the while and it’s not over.
Jimoh Isiaq. Sleek. Ayomide Taiwo. Peter Ofurum. Chika Ibeku. Chibuike Anams. Ifeoma Abugu. Christian Onuigbo. Emmanuel Egbo. Victor Maduamago. Chidi Odinauma. Stephen Agbanyim. Tony Oruama. Tiyamiu Kazeem. Mus’ab Sammani. Kolade Johnson. Onoyo Matthew. Chinedu Ani. Precious Odua. Richard Gora. Chijioke Iloanya. Linda Igwetu. Daniel Tella. Harry Ataria. Johnson Nnaemeka. Femi Bello. Chima Ikwunado. Godgift Ekerete. Gabriel Owoicho. Tina Ezekwe. Tony Zita. Modebayo Awosika. Daniel Adewuyi. Chukwuemeka Matthew. Chika Ibeku. Azuamak Madueago. Rinji Bala Uzziel. Joseph Eidonojie Ugbeni. Anita Akapson. Chibuike Daniel Ikeaguchi. Ifeanyi Ozor. Chinedu Meniru. Augustina Arebu. Anthony Nwokike. Paulinus Ogbonna. Ekena Isaac Megbe. Emeka Ojinze. Ademola Moshood. Ismaila Anyinla. Miracle. Sunday. Joy Ndubueze. Oke Obi-Enadhuze.
They and so many other unnamed have gone on to eternity and that’s how long we have to fight on, for eternity, till our victory is complete and justice is met. So many of them will never be remembered or spoken about both offline and online, this bitter injustice is part of why we fight.
We cannot allow bigotry to hijack our sense of justice and unity. This is a fight against police brutality which affects everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation or creed. This is a fight against abuse of power in a bastardized system which has empowered brutes to kill our young ones, our colleagues, our friends, and family members. Our cry is for justice for everyone. We cannot be caught being unjust to ourselves in the process, that too must end.
Many of us who will continue this lifetime journey of challenging a system of oppression may not necessarily be acknowledged both offline and online, but we must continue to fight bearing in mind that it’s bigger than us. Memorializing our fallen heroes should motivate us to keep fighting regardless. To maintain a decentralized system of resistance. To stay united and focused. To prevail.
The names that should matter in this fight are those of our fallen comrades whose lives were cut short by a failed system. We the coconut head youths will reclaim our country one day at a time. The fight is still on.