“We are able to have a safe space where we can discuss equality for LGBTQ+ Nigerians, which is a fantastic thing. But let’s remember our brothers and sisters in the North, for whom merely daring to love in secrecy can be a death sentence, if outed—not to mention convening like this! We have a greater responsibility to do more to save them,” declared the MC, in a closing remark.
I sat aghast, because my instantaneous reaction was a thought to myself: “I am not at a fundraiser in Bel Air, where oblivious rich white people are making a show of their benevolence by saving abstracted African babies in order to assuage their guilt.”
I was at a one-day conference on Human Rights and the Law, organized by a prominent NGO based in Lagos—Nigeria’s commercial capital, and perhaps its most diverse city. I’d hoped the MC would have availed themselves of the requisite information that would prevent them from coming off as a benevolent saviour.
Admittedly, the makeup of both attendees and organisers was at least 99% non-Muslim. Everyone, from the main speaker to every speaker on the various panels that ensued over the course of the conference, appeared to be non-Muslim. This is not to say they were Christian—a very Nigerian misconception which assumes, if one doesn’t believe in one monotheism, that they must believe in the other. One panelist was very particular about not being mistaken for anything but an atheist. “I am not agnostic,” she insisted to my…