What #OccupyJulorbiHouse means to me as a queer aroace in Ghana – Part 2

Illustrated by Mawena Ahento

Written by Remi

On the same Thursday, many queer X users and allies mentioned that last year, when 21 people in Ho (involved in the #Ho21) were jailed for “unlawful assembly”, it was an indicator of how anyone could easily be profiled as queer once a random person declared they were, and would be subjected to abuse or worse, death. Fast forward to Thursday, people who weren’t even profiled as queer were arrested for “unlawful assembly” too. This just shows how easy it is for your human rights to be infringed upon when someone hates you in our motherland.

As usual, these X users were either ignored or told that queer rights weren’t part of the conversation and they shouldn’t distract the movement, as though the right to life is not one of the basic human rights, and rule of law does not exist. Access to clean running water, electricity, shelter, healthcare, food and education is just as important as queer lives (and safety in the streets of Accra).

The protest at 37 continued the next day. One of my favorite Ghanaian artists – Baaba J – was among one of the many protesters given the opportunity to speak about why they were protesting. She mentioned the horrible things done to Ghanaians just because they were queer/perceived to be queer. She highlighted rapists being straight/not perceived as gay and not being given the same level of treatment as queer folks. Even though it is true that none of the rapists and pedophiles listed in the newspapers are pointed out to be members of the queer community, that does not mean they should also be victims of mob violence or beaten up by their ‘dates’ from a queer dating app. Every other day, @rightifyghana on X and Instagram is detailing the violence queer people in Ghana face, and cishet Ghanaian men and women still think the queer folks aren’t facing a big crisis in this nation? I remember when Ama Governor, a popular queer Ghanaian YouTuber and law student who is finally being called to the bar, made a YouTube video about the dangers queer Ghanaians face, majority of the comments denounced the situation to be as serious as she mentioned. It is a huge human rights issue. The same queer people who organized the protests last week by being as inclusive as possible? It’s very sickening to be part of a protest that will immediately turn its back on you or harm you once your gender/sexual identity is discovered. Freedom is everybody’s business, so it cuts across diverse intersections. The gay underpaid mentally ill person in Legon is just as deserving of all their human rights being met as the poor girl in the North who goes to school under a tree.

The past week has shoved politics down my throat by force. I normally don’t like being abreast with the current affairs of the nation but enough is enough. Ghanaians deserve a better future for this generation and the ones yet to come. A lot of issues resulting from the poor governance in the nation appeared all over my X timeline. Roads now have potholes so big that they have to be described as ‘manholes’, that can cause multiple road accidents in a day. Bridges don’t have railings, schools are overpopulated, many workers are underpaid, students in SHS spend less than half a year at school and aren’t given three square meals everyday due to the lack of funds in schools, many water bodies are polluted because of galamsey, but we have Members of Parliament and Ministers in charge of these sectors. This is why we’re protesting. Lives have been lost and lives are being harmed by the greedy actions of politicians. We are simply trying to hold the government accountable for their actions (or lack thereof). Many people are trying to leave this country for greener pastures abroad. Families are one sickness or accident away from being poor or losing loved ones. This is the same Ghana hailed as the destination for December. That’s why Ghanaians want to boycott #DettyDecember. Many foreigners come to the country, get the foreigner experience, marvel over the cheap hair prices once they are converted to dollars, visit the Cape Coast Castle and go back to their various countries. Of course, when they go back, they will be singing the praises of the nation, as if one dollar is not worth 11 Ghana Cedis and 30 pesewas. As if nurses aren’t always at the airport leaving the country. As if the economy isn’t in shambles.

Infographics are currently being shared about the dishonorable leaders for Ghanaians to know our failed leaders. X users are constantly encouraged to share the pictures on their WhatsApp statuses to spread the good word.

We, as protesters, are trying to hold all people in positions of power accountable for their actions. This includes the religious leaders and political parties. The church holds a lot of power in the nation, and the words of pastors are believed by many. Some spiritual leaders are also involved in the corruption that is eating away at our system. Before your religion or political affiliation is considered, you are a Ghanaian. You should be open-minded and consider that the actions of your leaders may not have come from the bottom of their hearts, but rather the depth of their pockets.

It was beautiful to see the videos of Ghanaian youth “shiing jama”, heartbreaking seeing them pour out their hearts about the grievances the government has caused us, and marvelous seeing Ghanaians from all walks of life showing up to the protests in their numbers. 

I am still protesting because I want a better future for myself, my mother, sisters, friends, family and all Ghanaians. The impact of our protest will not be immediate but may we, as Ghanaian youth, remember the wise words of Ama Governor “we are not timorous souls!’’ and persevere until all our needs are satisfied. May we live to reap the wonderful fruits we have sown.

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