Africa is experiencing a renaissance, moving towards inclusivity and sexual and gender diversity. Old customs of discrimination against homosexuality are being rejected.
In 2019, we started a series titled “Living Your Difference“, where BellaNaijarians share how they’ve learned to live with their difference, how they’ve been taught to hide their difference. How discrimination has affected them as a Nigerian, and how they’ve learned to navigate that difference.
Across Africa, feminism and gender equality movements are finding foot, with Beyoncé sampling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s “We should all be feminists” speech on her single. Homosexuality has been decriminalised in countries like Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, South Africa to mention a few.
As part of the journey towards more inclusion, Chude Jideonwo has shared that there’s going to be a N1 million prize for difference and diversity in Nigeria.
…I am announcing the launch of The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity, and literally putting my money where my mouth is by endowing the prize for its first year. The prize will find and support young people across Nigeria who are creating safe spaces for and giving voice to people who are different in seven key areas: gender, sexuality, faith and spirituality, mental and emotional health, art, special needs, and human rights.
Applications open today on diversity.ynaija.com; the criteria for the prize are also on the site. I am especially looking for those who work in states and communities in Nigeria where it is most dangerous, even fatal, to be different; people and organisations who do not know how to navigate funding, spotlights or networks. I want to help them, in my personal capacity—using my voice, brand, networks, and talents—in their quest to make us more fully human.
There is a corollary to this. By sticking my neck out and planting my flag firmly, I hope to invite conversation from people who don’t understand but want to understand, who are open to seeing this from another angle—that of love and acceptance. I do not desire change in doctrine, condemnation of their person, not even to convert or persuade on the rightness and wrongness of this or that difference. Only the humility to say, like Paul the Apostle who once persecuted Christians: I now see differently.