My experience today motivated me to raise my voice again

by Ms. Oguaghamba Akudo N.(Executive Director, Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative; Interim Steering Committee Member, The Solidarity Alliance for Human Rights, Nigeria; Pan-African ILGA, Co-Chair Alternative.)

This morning, as I was going to work and all of a sudden I found myself in a traffic jam. It is definitely this fuel queue I concluded. The queue was so long that the people waiting patiently in line couldn’t see the fight that has caused A.A Rano Service Station in Asokoro Abuja to close their gates. As I approached the fuel station, I saw military men, armed like they were going to war harassing drivers to take up their slot in the queue. All of a sudden, I saw one of the military man throw a punch at one young man, pulled him out of his car and started throwing punches at him. My heart sunk. The other drivers around started rushing to the scene likewise the other armed military men. No one could separate them and the young man couldn’t punch the military man back because of course he would have been history today (I don’t know if he is history at the moment as I type this message). I rolled down my door glass to video or snap a picture of this horrible brutality against an unarmed civilian, immediately I picked up my phone, a gun just showed up by my window, followed by a deep voice saying, “Oya naaa open that window make I see”. I was afraid, I was helpless, I was sad for this man who is now bleeding from the nose – I can’t even call the police now, who will help this man. This is our reality (I know you agree with me) but to lie down resigned to fate is madness, this has to stop!! but I cannot do it alone.

A lot of people are marginalized, discriminated against and stigmatized due to circumstances they cannot control, due to their sex, their ability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity and we all fold our arms because he/she is not our brother, sister or friend – infact he/she is just another victim of circumstance (Hard Luck!!!!), This has to stop!! But I cannot do it alone.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We are human, we are people likewise everybody else. There are so many things in life we are not able to choose for ourselves but we can choose to be better people. A lot of people spend most of their lives in sadness, feeling isolated and alone, feeling like the world created by God is an evil place, feeling that they are better-off dead than live one more day feeling horrible about having been born different or waking up to a reality of being different in a society where difference is seen as abnormal. I choose to be better than I was yesterday, I choose to keep learning and growing to love and accept everyone, I’ve chosen today and always to stand solidly in solidarity with LGBT Nigerians, Nigerian people with disabilities and other marginalized groups in Nigeria. Stay strong my brothers and sisters, after the rain comes the rainbows. #‎FreeAndEqualNaija‬