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Pragmatic, reserved and a deep thinker who loves family, sports especially football where am married to two wives: the first, AC Milan who has my loyalty and the second wife, Manchester United who has all my undying love and pampering, lifestyle and society parties. Need I say the law is more than a profession but a lifestyle for me.

Adekanye Adeyinka Olajide.

I do it for me

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Writing and publishing articles for my ever-growing readers takes me everywhere; makes me meet all kinds of people and this makes me accept everyone’s opinion even when theirs refute mine completely. Therefore, on 1st of January 2013, I met Photographer for the very first time. I was introduced to him by a mutual friend; who had made jest of him about an award he had been given. He was the recipient of “Most Friendly Non-LGBT CEO 2011.” A title I was intrigued by and out of curiosity, decided to probe him more on this.

He holds a degree from a prestigious university in Nigeria. He is also a renowned photographer and the CEO of a photography studio in one of the states in the western part of the country.  A manager in his family business and married to his childhood friend, he stands eloquent, confident and one of the most audacious people I have ever met. However, due to security reasons stemming from a very sensitive matter, which our society deems repugnant to natural justice, equity, and good conscience, he has asked for his identity concealed from the public. He would rather I refer to him as “photographer” in this interview.

Here is what ensued between us:

PRINCELAJ: So tell us about yourself.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: I am a photographer, a free thinker. I am happily married and I am a close friend of the LGBTs here in Nigeria. I am also a manager in our family business.

PRINCELAJ: Your friend introduced you to me as one of the LGBT awardees and you just described yourself as “a close friend of LGBT.” So what does LGBT mean?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: It simply means Lesbians Gays Bisexuals Transgender.

PRINCELAJ: Before we go into this LGBT group or society, it is love day and I will love you to define LOVE.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Defining love is quite easy. I would simply define it as an unconditional and unbiased act of sharing that, which makes the other person smile. Believe me, love is not an abstract concept. It is just being there for someone because you take him or her for whom or what he or she is. Love is putting a smile in every situation. As we talk now and am smiling, that is showing you love. Love is learning just to teach the other person…..we could go on.

PRINCELAJ: Hmmmm…now you made it sound easy. On January 1, is it true that you told the LGBT at the New Year dinner that the best way to survive in a society that is cruel to their sexuality was to teach them what true and genuine love is by simply staying as peaceful as always? Tell me more about that.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes! You see, true love adds joy and adds no sorrow and you can only give what you have. Now this is a principle I grew up hearing my own parent say repeatedly. The LGBTs- all I have ever met are naturally peaceful with a great heart. I know because I am not just friends with them but also a boss to four of them as I employed them to work directly with me. Talking about how cruel the Nigerian society has been to them is a story and a topic for another day. Now not only to them, people like me that advocate for them would definitely face the same faith of being stigmatized, lynched, mobbed or even jailed if I openly came out and said I was friends and an advocate of LGBTs. So again, I say the LGBTs are peaceful. Take for instance the northern menace we have in the country now, Boko Haram. They have a set of believers and because the federal government would not yield to their outrageous demands, they took to violence. In fact, over five hundred people have died to their menace in the last two years, which has been accounted to them and do you know what? The federal government is proposing dialogue. Again, I say the LGBTs are peaceful. They are a good number of them and assume they took up arms like these Boko Haram criminals, probably, just probably; the federal government might have called for dialogues with them. All I am saying is this, the LGBT's are peaceful, and love filled. Therefore, encouraging them to keep in this line on January 1 was definitely saying they should not stop being whom they are.

PRINCELAJ: You seem to have lots of passion for this cause and it appears to me; you have various ways to back them up. However, like many other readers, I would want to know. Are you a member of this Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexual Transgender?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you for asking me this good question. I am not a member of the LGBT. I am a devoted Christian who is happily married to my beautiful wife, and fact that I am the sales and purchasing manager depicts me as a man with strong family ties. The only thing we have in common is I passionately advocate for them and that explains why I got the award as the “Most Friendly Non-LGBT CEO 2012.”

PRINCELAJ: From the way, you just described yourself and considering you strong cultural background, especially, that you are a Nigerian, where did these entire links to them and passion come from considering our strong resistance to such gathering. As you will agree with me, this is foreign to us and repugnant to our good conscience.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: To be honest with you, that is because of our society that has made me support them anonymously and using alias as my name right now. Indeed, events that I am invited are secret events. My links to them started through various contacts and experiences with them. For example, I have four of them as staff in my company and that was what brought about the award itself.

The urge to start advocating for them however, did not possess me so completely until I learnt that a LGBT church was raze down with fire in Lagos. As I investigated further, I discovered that asides the immediate community that had overtime vehemently resisted the church, before the church was eventually burnt, other religious bodies/institutions was involved directly. This I felt was highly contradicting, as religious bodies especially are supposed to be in the forefront of accommodating people of all sort of backgrounds, origins, tribes, orientations, etc. http://www.informationng.com/2013/03/nigerian-gay-church-resume-operations-in-lagos.html

PRINCELAJ: Are you conversant with the fact that God clearly defines marriage as that which is between a man and a woman? Moreover, the scriptures clearly established the institute for procreation and companionship. Although violence of any kind is strongly reprehensible, why would you think the community ought to put up with them when they contradict the beliefs of the people, their culture, and religion?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes, the bible says so…but do not forget, it also says “come one, come all.” I do not know what your own bible says, but it also says, “To those that are not my people, I call my people and those who was not beloved, I call them beloved.”

PRINCELAJ: Then many will say again are you God? So why advocate for the LGBT’s this fiercely?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, God said for ye are gods. By implication, we have the spirit of God in us! In addition, trust me when you have his spirits, you naturally do that which adds up to it and not subtract from it! If you recall, I told you I have four as employees and what I have discovered is that they have the greatest personality and heart I have ever known. We really should learn from them as there are a lot we can tap into; rather than clamping on them at secret meetings.

PRINCELAJ: You still have not told me why you chose to advocate for the LGBT; why not choose to advocate for those suffering from leprosy, or any other stigmatized group of people?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: I engage some of my friends in conversations… one key question I ask them is “how long have you been with your partner?” I get responses like 8 years… 15years, etc. then I begin to wonder how many straight relationships still beam with so much passion after so long. Alas, only a few; divorcees are so rampant these days.
Leprosy at least has a colony. Like it or hate it, we all identify them for who they are and would not be stunned if they openly say, “I am a leaper.”

PRINCELAJ: That indeed is a long time of courtship. Nevertheless, do you not think as outcasts, it limits their chances of finding many partners, as the straight people will?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: There are lots of secret get together and various mediums that allow them to network. Therefore, it is not about seeing or meeting different people. Remember that the world is a global village now. Things like online gay dating sites, etc are efficient. So why do we keep deceiving ourselves when the world acknowledges their existence and respects their choices. Why can we not do the same in our society?

PRINCELAJ: In essence, you are advocating for a kind of colony for the LGBT as well.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: A colony? Yes if you put it that way but not a physical one. It should be a colony in our mind. Let us create a space in our heart that accommodates them and take them for whom they are.

PRINCELAJ: So what will you pin their lasting affairs to as the core of it?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Sexuality defines personality. It is because of their personality. Let me site an instance. You will not be surprised if a man that sleeps around with girls also smokes and drinks. Similarly, you will not be shocked if a prostitute does drugs. These things all intertwine.

PRINCELAJ: Do you not feel that once we begin to accommodate them, we are also aiding this strange way of life and encouraging a new order? As a result, our sons and daughters will not be safe in their company.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: The LGBT because of their sexual orientation, all tend to have a particular type of heart: (a good, straight, and dedicated heart) which makes them respect core values than most of us. Have you not heard of straight people who abuse our children? Thus, everyone is guilty of various vices depending of their self-will. Even our religious doctrines advocates free will so who are we to place ourselves about religion and its provisions?

PRINCELAJ: Do you truly think, anyone who is not a LGBT will feel safe in their company and be rest assured they will not have certain desires for those who matter to us and us?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Defile to me is almost a criminal word. When it is mutual, it is only normal. However, I will rather know everything about my child and guide him as he grows than have him hide it all from me and engage in trial and error outside.

PRINCELAJ: So tell me, what has supporting the LGBT so publicly cost you? I ask this because you are so particular about anonymity. Am wondering why support a secret group. Are you scared to be open with your stance; after all, you are not a member yourself?
 PHOTOGRAPHER:  It is not what it has cost me but what it will. Just like the gay church, people who are angry about my decision could mob me. Like the young man in Lagos who the police red his text messages and found out about his sexual orientation; I could be extorted, jailed and killed. Even the House of Representatives are currently close to passing a law that has been successfully, passed at the Senate. This law sees LGBT’s as criminals, and will be sentence any one found guilty to 14 years imprisonment and advocates like me to 10 years imprisonment and I sure do not like the sound of a jail term. Therefore, beyond the people, organizations, and institutions that are anti LGBT, and government through its agents such as the Nigerian Police Force, I cannot be safe as an open advocate.

PRINCELAJ: Are you insinuating that the NPF jailed and killed a gay without trial?
 PHOTOGRAPHER: In Nigeria, you and I know that it is a common practice to kill without following due process and with no regard for the rule of law. In this regard extra judicial killings of LGBT members are encouraged though discreetly because they are regarded an abomination and a taboo in our society. It is all over the internet. These things happen all the time. We all heard about the killings of four boys in alu that in cold blood by some reckless mobs.

PRINCELAJ: On a final note, what do you have to say to everyone reading this?
PHOTOGRAPHER: Let us create a colony in our heart for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals transgender. One that is void of discrimination, hate and guile, etc, but built on total acceptance and mutual respect for everyone’s choice.

PRINCELAJ: Thank you photo for granting us this exclusive interview.
 PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you for having me. The pleasure is mine. 

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