Everyone that attended TEDxBodija 2014 would agree with me that the weirdest moment at the event was when Ayodele Olofintuade attempted to propagate the message of supporting homosexuality, feminism and atheism to the audience.
Ayodele spoke on the theme: ‘Patriarchy and the Pepper seller being a 21st century woman in a post-colonial Pentecostal Nigeria.”
She started by taking jibes at the church and the religious mindset in Nigeria. From where I sat I realised she probably had it rough growing up but it’s not enough to castigate and make fun of a faith that has changed peoples’ fates for thousands of years before she was born.
Even though there are pastors that had been linked with cases of rape and sex crimes, it doesn’t mean all pastors are like that. If Ayodele had taken time to really read the Bible she would have realised that even when Jesus himself handpicked his 12 disciples, he also picked a Judas who later sold him to those that would later kill him.
Christianity is not about what the pastor does nor what is done in the church; it is simply about what you believe in.
She also spoke about the belief that only those from a particular denomination of the church would make heaven. She said Christians believe Muslims and traditionalists would rot in hell. I paused at that moment and shook my head at the wrong environment she grew up in to believe that is what all Christians believe. God created us all and as far as I’m concerned, those that do evil are those that are destined for all.
As long as you do good and make good impacts, you are good to go. And instead of the compulsion and desperation to figure out what happens after death – which no one really knows – we can do something about the opportunity we have to do good in life.
From atheism through feminism and activism to ‘gayism’
I wasn’t surprised when she finally (and publicly) advocated for homosexuality – something that is even illegal in the Nigerian homosexuality law. But out of everyone in the hall, only Kemi Olunloyo applauded her for speaking in favor of gays and lesbians. This made me realise that the decision of the Nigerian government may not just be political but a reflection of what Nigeria and Nigerians believe in.
Nigeria is a highly religious society with great regards for morality. It is also gradually opening its arms to freedom of speech. But what advocates such as Ayodele should know is that while they have the right to say what they believe in, the Ibadan audience can also choose to accept or ignore her propositions.
A cross section of those I spoke to on their perspectives on Ayodele’s speech believe there is God, they believe in religion and homosexuality is immoral. It’s a taboo in the various Nigerian cultures.