What’s Going On: Ban on Festival in Nigeria, Anti-LGBT Bill Gets Support in Ghana & More
Important news headlines from around Africa
Important news headlines from around Africa
“What’s Going On” Tallies Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate From Across The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’ Will Discuss Just That.
Last week, there was controversy in Ilorin, Kwara state, as the Emir of Ilorin backed a group that banned the traditional festival known as Isese. This was confirmed by the spokesperson of the Emir, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, after the Muslim group Majlisu Shabab li Ulamahu Society had stormed the house of the Osun priestess, warning her to desist from organising the festival which traditionally paid homage to some Yoruba deities.
“There wasn’t any time when they prominently performed events of such,” responded Arowona to journalists. “No event of such has ever been associated or held in Ilorin, or within Ilorin Emirate. Our culture is Islamic-based, so we don’t promote idolatry at all”.
This censorship has brought criticism from far and wide, but the biggest interest has been from the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, who faulted the Emir’s suppression of a people’s religion in an open letter, calling it “a crime against the cultural heritage of all humanity”. In response, the Emir had suggested that cancelling the event was a security measure, even though Nigerians—who believe they’re residing in a secular country—have been forthcoming in their criticism of the Ilorin monarch.
[OPINION] ISESE FESTIVAL: An Open Letter to Sulu Gambari – Wole Soyinka
Your Royal Highness,
So soon after the Moslem season of spiritual purification, it is sad to see the ancient city of Ilorin, a confluence of faiths and ethnic varieties, reduced to this level of bigotry and… pic.twitter.com/PyWtMtyKK3
— olúwo jogbodo Orunmila (@animolenikun) July 7, 2023
As more people around the world continue to link hands against LGBTQ hate and prejudice, Africa seems to be moving backwards. This year has seen a number of countries tighten their laws against gay people, and Ghana have been the latest to do so, with the news last week announcing their extreme anti-gay bill which got unanimous support from the Ghanaian parliament.
On Wednesday, the Parliament passed a bill it had been discussing since 2021 into law. The bill was known as the 2021 Promotion of Appropriate Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill. It criminalises the promotion, advocacy, funding and practice of homosexuality, with prison terms rising to ten years for LGBTQ+ advocates and three years for anyone who identifies as homosexual. The bill also seeks to withdraw HIV medication from this community.
Legislator Sam Nartey George, who is the bill’s main sponsor, said: “Homosexuality is not a human right in Ghana, but a lifestyle choice, a sexual preference”. The Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin also supported the bill’s passing, saying that “the Bill will be a reference point for many countries. It has gone through all the provisions of the constitution, laws and international organisations”.
At least 24 people have been confirmed to be killed as suspected herdsmen attacked villages in Benue on Saturday night. This happened in the Akpuuna and Diom communities in the Ukum local government area of Benue state. Gunmen were reported to have stormed these areas where they shot at anyone in sight for over two hours, before leaving.
The governor of the state, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia has condemned the attacks, which he described as a heinous crime and grave sin against God and mankind. The attacks follow a spate of similar attacks in other areas within the North Central, most recently in Plateau communities. Yesterday, twelve people were confirmed dead as gunmen attacked the Farinkasa Kerana and Sabon Gari communities in Mangu LGA.
Protesters in Kenya have clashed with the police as they moved against the increased taxes in the East African country. In their thousands, people stormed the streets of the port city of Mombasa to air their grievances about the ruling government of President William Ruto, especially his imposition of new taxes, even in the face of a severe cost-of-living crisis.
Chanting “We are tired,” the people marched through the streets with banners and placards. The motion seemed to have worked, as the high court in Nairobi suspended the implementation of the new bill later on Friday, in the wake of the demonstrations. Further reports showed that police had arrested over twenty protesters, as confirmed by the Nairobi police commander Adamson Bungei, although it didn’t reveal the charges that were going to be brought up against them.
“He (William Ruto) is increasing taxes on people who have nothing,” one protester said to Africa News. “If one has money, it is okay to be taxed. We have nothing”. With taxes on petroleum products among other things, the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has asked his supporters to uphold civil disobedience by refusing to pay the taxes. He also revealed that he would announce further steps towards fighting against the new taxes.
Featured image credit/AFP