Writer and activist Chibụìhè Obi has gone missing after writing an essay describing the representation of the queer body in Nigeria—and there are reports that he may have been kidnapped.
A friend of Obi—Dhee Sylvester—wrote on Facebook: “Chibuihe Obi Has Been Kidnapped!!
After several threats, Chibuihe Obi has been kidnapped by a group of homophobic thieves because of his Brittle Paper essay. We last heard from him on June 1, Thursday. They're asking us for money. They're harassing and threatening to hunt down and kill other writers on his list.”
In his essay entitled ‘We’re Queer, We’re Here’ Obi wrote: “Writers of queer literature must brace themselves and raise their voices above any form of oppression. We have stayed in this silence for long. It has been long. It is enough.
“Queer literature is a legitimate component of Nigerian, nay African, literature. Queer literature is a subtext of the whole. Queer literature is part of the story, part of the struggle, part of the style and syntax. Queer literature matters, and queer writers and artists matter equally within the Nigerian literary community.”
The essay also detailed specific instances of violence against the LGBT+ community in Nigeria and described the threats that Obi himself has received for publishing LGBT+ themed poems.
Friends of the author have been using the hashtag #freeChibuiheObi on social media, urging anyone who has any information about his whereabouts to make contact.
One person wrote on Facebook: “Dear Senator Sola Adeyeye, I am begging you in the name of everything, if you really care for me, help me, join hands with Senator Ben Murray-Bruce to find the Nigerian writer, Chibuihe Obi. I am distraught beyond words. Help the Nigerian writing community. This young man must be found alive. He is our son! I am begging you!”
The LGBT+ community in Nigeria continues to face persecution for their sexuality. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal, with the maximum punishment being 14 years imprisonment.
You can read Obi’s essay in full here.