As of this writing, several suspects in the brutal murder of Kenyan fashion designer and vocal Gay-Rights Activist Edwin Chiloba had reportedly been arrested by the Kenyan police. Now, it turns out that at least one Good Samaritan taxicab driver and several eyewitnesses had spotted a couple of facially disguised men get out of a vehicle without a licensed plate or registration number and quickly drop what appeared to be a metallic box and then hurriedly driven away. We learn that it was the tipoff and the clues provided by some of these eyewitnesses that had led to the arrest of the murder suspects.
So far, a roommate of the dead man has also been named as a possible prime suspect in the murder. We also learn that not quite long ago, Mr. Chiloba was assaulted by some unidentified assailants, the Daily Beast news story cited a BBC report (See “Prominent LGBTQ Activist Edwin Chiloba Found Dead in Metal Box” Daily Beast 1/6/23). In Kenya, as also in several African countries, sexual relations between men is illegal and punishable by 14 years’ prison term. Maybe this is where any serious and constructive attempt to protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ citizens in that major East African nation ought to begin from; that is, the Kenyan Government and that country’s leading human rights activists and religious leaders need to join forces in fighting for the legal criminalization of same-sex relationships to be scrapped or struck off the law books.
It is this outdated British colonial legacy that has obviously complicated the battle against the statutory incrimination of LGBTQI+ lifestyle and culture. It is also significant to observe that Mr. Chiloba, who is reported to have been adopted by an elderly White couple, was a great and a very talented fashion designer whose work, even within his very short lifespan, had registered considerable impact in Kenyan society and perhaps even well beyond. Reading the Chiloba Story also reminded me of such globally renowned Gay fashion designers as Versace, Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga, the last two of whom are alleged to have hidden their same-sex orientation because of the palpable fear of generationally negative social pressures.
At any rate, when this writer Googled up the subject of “Some Renowned Gay Fashion Designers,” the following are some of the names that popped up: Adolfo, Ray Aghayan, Hardy Amies, Jonathan Anderson, Paul Andrew, Shiki Aoki, Murray Arbeid and the globally ubiquitous Giorgio Armani. Now, what the preceding means to this writer is that whether heterosexual homophobes like it or not, we are all inextricably both implicated and existentially and culturally influenced by the genius productivity of members of the LGBTQI+ Community in ways that ought to make the killers of Mr. Chiloba and all the other wrongful and brutally murdered Gay Artists and Activists feel a civilized sense of remorse and regret.
Now, casting my mind back to Ghana, the first names that immediately came to mind were those of cynical and populist National Democratic Congress’ apparatchiks like Messrs. Samuel George Nartey – aka Sam George – the Ningo-Prampram, Greater-Accra, Member of Parliament; Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, the longtime dynastic General-Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, who was recently “democratically” promoted to the much more insidiously powerful post of National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress, a comfortable strategic perch from which apex position, yours truly very recently predicted, General Mosquito, as Mr. Asiedu-Nketia is popularly known, would be poised to doing far more damage to both his party and the country, at large, than the former Chairman Jeremiah “Jerry” John Rawlings-appointed Deputy Defense Minister had been able to do in the past.
I, of course, also thought about the rambunctious and the equally cynical likes of Messrs. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa and Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the recently democratically ousted National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress. You see, the very fact that it was the recent sexagenarian graduate of the Ghana Armed Forces’ Senior Staff College who delivered the metaphorical equivalent of the black-eye or the knockout blow that sent the Akyem-born and raised Anum native, from the Eastern Region reeling hopelessly on the ropes in the boxing ring, ought to poignantly inform party stalwarts and, indeed, the entire membership of the institutional establishment of the National Democratic Congress about what further awaits them by the time that the Mosquito’s “Purgative Revolution” or revolutionary purging of the membership of the upper echelons of the party is brought to a close. And, to be certain, what lies in store for the nation, should the NDC be returned to government in 2024, stands to be much, much worse.
But what I would like to even more significantly highlight here is the fact that in Ghana, Gay-Bashing has become a strategically distractive shorthand or pretext for populist political nonperformance. And so far, it is only a strategically obdurate albeit relatively more progressive President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who has been able, in spite of everything else, to muster enough courage to remind the nation at large that the battle for the protection of the inalienable Human Rights of members of the LGBTQI+ Community has a long history in the epic and epochal emancipation of enslaved Africans in the Diaspora and, much more recently, the globally massive and seismic emancipation of Non-European Peoples, beginning as relatively recently as the immediate Post-World War, II, Era. The sad truth and fact of the matter, however, is that Africans cannot claim to wield the moral high ground over their erstwhile slavocolonial European imperialist overlords, when we continue to badly and scandalously trail our former oppressors and inveterate antagonists by virtue of our abject failure and lack recognition of the inescapable fact of our inextricable kinship with all the other oppressed and systematically demonized and politically and socioeconomically marginalized species of humanity around the world. In short, we are our own worst enemy.
*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 25, 2023
E-mail: okoampaahoofekw[email protected]