AFRICAN PRIDE ACCELERATED 2022 was from its inception an outlet to celebrate our work and survival in the face of oppression and violence, and a chance to celebrate our beautiful and diverse community. The event featured panel discussions (SSMPA and its effects on the LGBTQI+ community in Nigeria, and Meaningful Youth Engagement within the LGBTQI+ Developmental space) and workshops on Movement Building, Mindful and Collective Care, Intersex Visibility, and Intersectionality, and innovative side events on Art as a form of resistance.
The day kicked off with a plenary session on “the legal aspect of the SSMPA; the effect on the LGBTIQ+ community in Nigeria. The Panel was made up of 4 panellists and a moderator. The panellists broke down the legal aspect of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) which was signed into law in 2013 with the basic purpose of prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex which in reality has a wider scope.
Michael Akanji explained that the law forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.” imposes a 10-year prison sentence on anyone who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations” or “supports” the activities of such organizations (human rights activism and the activities of non-governmental organizations that provide services to LGBTQI+ people). Other panellists added that while the existing laws (criminal and penal codes) outlawed sexual acts between members of the same sex, the SSMPA effectively criminalizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons (LGBTQI+) persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The panellists further shared some of the cases they handled following the enactment of the SSMPA which included violence, physical violence, conversion therapies, detention and harassment, and extortion, with groups of people gathering and acting with a common intent of committing violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Justine added that the law has also become a tool being used by police officers and other state actors to legitimize multiple human rights violations, such violations include torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, violations of due process rights, and extortion against LGBTQI+ people.
INTERSEX VISIBILITY AND INTERSECTIONALITY WORKSHOP BY THE INTERSEX NIGERIA TEAM
The workshop educated 50 community members on the intersex body, and the difference between being an Intersex person, a transgender, and a gender non-conforming person. They also broaden the term “Intersex” and “Intersectionality” which means the identification and inclusion of the different diversities inherent in the LGBTQI+ community and “intersex” as persons born with variations in their sex characteristics including chromosome patterns, or genitals that are not typical binary notions of male or female bodies.
They further highlighted the different violence and injustice faced by the members of the Intersex community from infancy, especially in Nigeria where people are either uninformed or misinformed on the topic and mostly use Intersex persons for social and medical experiments. Participants take home includes the importance of allyship and the role all are to play in creating safe spaces for Intersex persons.
THE OTHER SIDE OF RAINBOW: MINDFULNESS AND COLLECTIVE CARE WORKSHOP BY HADIZA SELABOY.
The session focussed on the importance of self-love, worth, self-care, self-acceptance, and self-improvement. Hadiza explained in detail how important it is for individuals, especially members of the community to take care of themselves physically, and mentally and do their best to be all-around empowered to not only be healthy and daring but also have something to bring to every table they find themselves in the society.
She spoke extensively on physical fitness and being empowered for self-protection and personal safety Skills; she urged participants to learn at least one self-defence skill, highlighting the importance of self-defence mechanism and Yoga as essential survival and coping skills for queer people living in Nigeria for the prevention of harassment and violation of their rights.
The second day of African Pride Accelerated 2022 kicked off with a recap of the previous day’s activities and announcements. Following that, a panel discussion on Meaningful youth engagement within the LGBTIQ+ development space commenced. The panel was moderated by Grace Isong Akpan – The Executive Director of The Initiative for Gender Equality and Sexual Reproductive Health (IGE-SRH) and featured panel discussions from young activists like; Oyedayo Benedicta, Doose Nchihi, Justine Chidozie, and Sunny, activists within the Nigerian LGBTIQ+ development space. Different points on youth engagement were expressed including how leaders and directors exploit youths and underrate their contributions to the general agender and how youth themselves impede the progress of their work by focusing on material attachments instead of focusing on their contributions and the work at large. Many attendees referenced different aspects of youth engagement within their spaces and how the movement can advance efforts to strengthen their participation.
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS WITHIN THE LGBTQI+ MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA – MODERATED BY DIDI DOOSE MCHIHI.
This workshop featured inputs from attendees who shared their points of view on factors that promote or impede partnerships within the LGBTQI movement in Nigeria. Intersectionality was one of the first key points raised at this workshop, many participants raised the issue of how LGBTQI+ programming in Nigeria is one-sided and barely leaves room for programs that benefit a broader community. “Even in the mainstream; Women’s rights work barely features programming for queer women, even though the need for programming is higher in some cases”, said one of the participants. Many of the points raised under intersectionality featured discussions on HIV programming and its refusal to adopt an Advocacy or Human Rights approach or centre women in service delivery. This workshop also provided insights into different forms of discrimination within the LGBTQI+ movement in Nigeria. There were talks about the lack of due diligence in ensuring that trans and non-binary individuals don’t get discriminated against within LGBTQI+ service delivery in Nigeria. There were a few success stories on meaningful partnerships shared during this workshop. Some participants recounted their experience with programs that were very inclusive and featured different contributions from different communities, and how impactful it was.
RECOGNIZING MICROAGGRESSION, ITS CONSEQUENCES IN THE LGBTQI MOVEMENT, AND HOW WE ENDORSE IT – MODERATED BY KAREEM MALIK OLUWADAMILARE.
The workshop was centred around healing from the get-go, especially from experiences within the LGBTQI space. Many participants acknowledged the fact that due to the heavy and traumatizing nature of the work they do as activists, healthy coping mechanisms are very much needed. It was agreed that without healthy coping methods; colleagues and leaders in this space would naturally take on an aggressive stance with each other and this would in turn negatively impacts the work being done. The moderator also emphasized different ways micro-aggression can lead to violent altercations and harmful mishaps. Many participants also shared points on how microaggression can negatively affect people’s mental health and work performance.
INTERSECTIONALITY OF SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN THE LGBTQI COMMUNITY – MODERATED BY MX COOKIE.
It was fun and interactive; it also featured different points of view from LGBTQI people who were in relationships and those who weren’t. The moderator shared slides on how Sexual and Gender-Based Violence can be identified and can manifest in relationships, sexual encounters, and interactions. Then participants shared their own experiences with Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in violent and nonviolent forms.
Some of the phenomenon discussed include the “touch me not’s,” the “pillow princesses” and other brandings popular among LGBTQI people in Nigeria. Participants shared viewpoints and stories about navigating these issues and how to find redress in cases where people have been exposed to mental health stresses, violence, and harm as a result of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
The third day of the African Pride Accelerated featured an opening address by Emmanuel Gambari with a keening on everyone’s involvement in the APA celebration, the importance of collaboration, and building trust and partnership within the community.
ART AS A FORM OF RESILIENCE BY CHIKA ANYANWU
Chika Anyanwu a visual artist, coordinated the session on art activism speaking as she spoke on “Art as a Form of Resilience” he explained that art activism is a dynamic practice of combining the creative power of the arts to move us emotionally with the strategic planning of activism necessary to bring about social change. He delved further into explaining that art and activism do different works in the world. He said “activism, as the name implies, is the activity of challenging and changing the power relations. There are many ways of doing activism and being an activist, but the common element is an activity targeted toward a discernible end. The goal of activism is action to create an effect.”
He also emphasized the importance of art as the safest way to prove a point; in a country with discriminatory laws and policies, art can be used to provoke and evoke change for political and social transformation in society.
Participants had a chance to connect to their inner creative selves and express their imagination through painting their hearts in a love shape in the way that best represents it.
Pencils and colours pushed through their imaginations and transcended into paper, expressing the creativity of their heart.
Time out and the collage of their paintings were pasted and formed a wall of hearts as some participants were allowed to share and explain what the artwork they produced meant to them. The session ended with a rejuvenated mind and action towards art using as a form of resilience.
TOURING THE RESORT
Considering the magnificent views and terrains of the venue of the event the organizers and venue management saw the need to further intimate participants with the beautiful scenery, hence a tour was arranged for willing participants.
The lush greens of the world-class 18-hole golf course created the right atmosphere, for the most challenging, memorable golfing experience. Some of the participants took a bicycle tour around the resort which has amazing slops and aerial views of the resort including the golf course and the waterside.
WE RISE GALA NIGHT!!!
The Gala night started with a red carpet where participants got to share an overall experience of their time at African Pride Accelerated and their expectations for the evening. Also, it was a moment to showcase wardrobe spirits in colours.
The gala started with an introductory remark by the Executive Director of WHER Initiative, Akudo Oguaghamba, and partnering organizations who appraised the resilience of LGBTQI+ persons in Nigeria, and despite the discrimination on all fronts, Still, We Rise!!
Overall, the African Pride Accelerated 2022 was the biggest homecoming LGBTQI+ event for the year 2022 and besides the workshops and the microphone times, participants were also thrilled by the different buffers of meals they were presented with at every meal time, from breakfast, tea break and lunch. All were intentionally curated sumptuous meals that left them well-fed and satisfied.
There was undoubted proof throughout the event that the planners and organisers were intentional about giving participants the times of their lives for the three days the event lasted. From the magnificent venue, the beautiful rooms, the peaceful and well-thought-out programs for the events and the delicious meals served throughout APA2022.
Those who say they can’t wait for the APA2023 are not alone as even we at WHER Initiatives cannot wait to create a bigger version of the trend already set by APA2022.