Across most parts of Africa the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community is not something that is accepted; many people who fall into this category will express their sexual orientation behind closed doors.
Even then, there is still a chance that neighbours or others may find out about the life of a homosexual; in Africa, members of the public can decide to take matters into their own hands, and there have been cases where people who have been caught have been banished from villages, neighbourhoods and communities.
They may face other punishment, from being publicly shamed to prison sentences of up to twelve years and even been killed. Culture, law and religious contexts all play a huge role into why homosexuality is condemned across the continent.
The ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex association) produce a map that shows sexual orientation laws across the world. From this evidence, South Africa seems to be the only African state that recognises the LGBTQ community, although countries such as Angola and Botswana have some protection put in place for the LGBTQ community.Bandy KiKi, is a young Cameroonian blogger based in the UK – her blog site may be the most visited one in the Cameroonian community worldwide – recently declared on her blog that she is a lesbian, posting this statement along with a picture of herself;
Soon after, Cameroonians expressed their different opinions on what they thought of her coming out. One comment, however, stood out more than those of the many that were written.
“My fellow family, friends and frenemies.
I’d like to take this unique opportunity to thank all those who are standing by me with regards to my recent acknowledgement of being a lesbian.
For those who find it different and find me different, I still want to thank you for your stance. I was never meant to meet all your desires.
In this life, the one thing we have authority over is the choices we make. Few of us are decisive; others are peer pressured and most are still undecided/ confused.
For me: I have taken the stance to be WHO I AM and not WHAT they want me to be. I will be remembered for the things I did than those I didn’t do.
And for the many others who find it hard to air their choices of life, I hope you can be inspired by my audacity.
I am Bandy Kiki – and I’ll stand tall where and when all are seated.”
The CEO and founder of CAMIFF (Cameroonian International Film Festival) wrote on Facebook (in Pidgin English): “Kiki Bandy you be lesbian because some correct man nova ever fuck you. If I catch you in Cameroon I will fuck you very well so that the demon of lesbianism actually goes out of you. Your mother would never accept this. I get plans for put you belleh (make one pregnant). You go see something. Just touch your foot for Cameroon.”
His words were not taken lightly. Many women in support of Kiki’s sexual orientation believed his words suggested the justification of rape and the abuse of females not only in Cameroon but globally.
When asked what she thought of the comment that was made towards her, Kiki simply wanted to thank Commy Musa and Enam Krystn (Friends of Kiki) for speaking up in her defence. She also believes that his comment will ruin his international projects and networking system.
The UN women website states: “Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced sexual intercourse or sexual acts at some points in their lives.”
Kiki explains that she became tired of hiding her sexual inclinations as well as lying to people she cared about. She also explains that there were a good number of people who knew about her sexuality and started blackmailing her as her brand (Kinnaka’s Blog / Kinnaka TV) grew.
Rather than hiding away and giving someone else the chance to reveal her truth, she decided to “liberate herself” and own her truth. Knowing that Cameroonians can be very homophobic she did expect the reaction of people to be worse.
“I totally ignored the hate tirades and focused more on the LGBTQ community in Africa which reached out to me massively. Surprisingly, I also had hundreds of support messages from people my age and my parents’ age. This response has been emotional as well as humbling,” she told us.
The Rainbow Equality Hub is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that supports the LGBTQ community and have been supporting other organisations to help the LGBTQ community in Africa and Cameroon. Kiki will now be working with these groups as a Cameroonian LGBTQ activist and her goal is to use her voice to establish a platform that will include that community.
Alice Nkom, a prominent lawyer in Cameroon, has been defending the rights of homosexuals in the country since 2003. She has said in numerous debates and documentaries that cover the topic of homosexuals in Cameroon that “no one can legally arrest a homosexual” because “there are laws in place to defend the human rights of a homosexual,” those laws are “freedom and equality of treatment for all human beings.”
Kiki is also very positive about being able to freely visit Cameroon. She says her family is supporting her, she continues to thank those that she went to college with for the amazing support they have shown her, especially Bibi Dzelen for her heart-warming support.
Whereas Kiki is very positive about her freedom of movement, Issa Tchiroma who has served in the Cameroonian government as a transport and communication minister did say in an 2016 interview with Journeyman Pictures that “99 per cent of Cameroonians are against homosexuality” and went on to say that it was fact and therefore the head of state was only implementing the law.
KiKi has also featured as a guest on Maa’ fuas podcast, where she expressed her views on homosexuality and used Africa as her case study to speak. In the conversation linked below she expressed that Africa had more to worry about than the LGBTQ community.
Featured image by Bandy Kiki