This Is War! Kenyan gay community fights back against oppression

Originally published in

kitoThe Kenya gay community should be allowed to punish and deal with blackmailers, with whatever means necessary, it seems.

News that several alleged gay blackmailers have been killed or beaten by mobs was largely welcome by the gay community especially after suffering for years from a select group of gay men who extorted and stole money, and property from their victims.

The initial case was one where a notorious blackmailer was beaten and stoned to death by a mob that was answering to an alarm raised by one of the victim. Just this month, two other blackmailers were shot dead by police in what was allegedly a case of blackmail gone wrong after their victim alerted the police.

And last week, the last known hard-core criminal and blackmailer, Joseph Makau (pictures above), was beaten to near death by a mob in a failed blackmail attempt at Tassia estate in Nairobi.

Blackmail cases were first reported in 2006/2007 when some male sex workers started demanding money and other gifts from some of their clients, often closeted gay men. Some of their victims were married, non-Kenyans, clerics or students.

Often, they would lure them using gay dating sites such as Planet Romeo or through Facebook. Their plan involved getting the victim to a designated house, start to have sex and then have some people ‘break into’ the house and catch the two or three ‘in the act.’ At this point, victims would be photographed – naked – and asked to cough up money to be released or not exposed to their wives, families or work stations.

Unfortunately, most victims ended up paying. It was a lucrative business. A select few gay men, MSM and male sex workers, seeing how they can profit from this, begun to extort money using the same modus operandi. Some of the blackmailers connived with several errant police officers who would often be used to arrest victims and demand hefty sums of money to be released.

LGBTI activists and groups were overwhelmed by distress calls from people from as far as Lodwar to Rongai, Kahawa to Nakuru, all of them seeking for help after they got blackmailed. Despite the efforts of the activist groups to take the legal channel in dealing with blackmailers, they found it difficult to prosecute, successfully, any case since most victims were not willing to be dragged into a long court process and they did not want to be known as gay or MSM. Most demanded that their names and identities be kept secret.

The break came last year when one of the gang of blackmailers was stoned to death in Dandora. Then, using the social media, victims and activists began a series of ‘Name and Shame’ campaigns where the photos, names, addresses and aliases of know gay blackmailers were exposed in an effort to curb rising numbers of extortion and blackmail.

The campaign gained momentum in the early weeks of the launch and many stories and names were shared. Sensing danger, some blackmailers decided to see the light. In fact, one of them went on to become a paralegal in a noted LGBTI and Sex work organisation where he is currently involved in solving several cases of blackmail. Others decided to shift base to other locations such as Mombasa and Kisumu where they laid low.

However, a core number of this group stayed on. And they changed tact. Now, using young boys and unknown members, they lured victims to their homes and had them not only blackmailed but in some cases, beaten, sexually violated, and tortured.

Again, the breakthrough came. The so called leader of the blackmailing gang was thoroughly beaten in Tassia estate and the photos shared on social media and to several groups across the country. The response was overwhelming – the gay community demanded blood, they demanded death, they demanded a corpse! No one showed sympathy to the alleged gang member. Person after person wished and demanded for his death. The incident happened less than three days after another blackmailer was shot by police.

The ongoing ‘Name and Shame’ campaign is still on. Blackmailers are running scared. The gay community has taken matters into their own hands and dealing with their own issues, their own way. In the absence of the law’s protection, slum justice, it seems, must take its course.

Oh Nigeria, when will your gay community know such power, I wonder.

25 thoughts on “This Is War! Kenyan gay community fights back against oppression

  1. YES!!!!! Soon my dear writer, soon. We like to copy things in this Nigeria. This is something I look forward to.

    BTW, how do y’all do these facebook hook-up things? Do these guys write “I am gay” on their profiles? I have never understood the explanations :s #VeryConfused

    • Loool……L for Learner…. But to be fair its a very tricky thing, especially if you’re using your real facebook profile rather than a “catfish”

      Things could go south sometimes, and lead to a no so pleasant outing

      • Give real fb profile kwa??? Its just that I have a problem with tagging ppl. I got these frenz n d instant they see one fb profile, BAM! This one is a tb. Poor dude had no hope of not being tagged.

        Pinkie, maybe all I need is an upgrade on my gaydar activation techniques. No???

    • Maybe my gaydar is etched in my psyche because most of the time, I just know when someone on Facebook is gay. And other times, if the person has over 15 mutual gay friends on his profile chances are he is.

  2. I remember speaking to a Ugandian transman recently ( female to male.yes I should probably penned an article abt this) who lives and works in Ugandan and was in Nigeria recently for a fellowship. He said that he was surprised at how deep in the closet Nigerian gays are…even in Uganda arguably the most homophobic country in the world, most gays are out and certainly not as secretive as Nigerians. He concluded that Nigerian gays are cowards…and I couldn’t agree more. if a transman living in Uganda can have more balls than we gays in Nigeria. ..then we are indeed lower than cowards and we deserve very much to be exploited until we have the courage to begin a revolution.

  3. I think I was telling somebody the other day that as far as lgbt rights are concerned, this time, Naija might just carry last. The same way we’re running to Cotonou for univerisity education, we will wake up one day to see that all our ‘fellow backward countries’ have left us behind. That same Uganda Chizzie is talking about has held two pride parades. Which one we don do?

    Truth is: nobody will have a miraculous change of heart and give us our rights. If we don’t fight back, 500 years to come we will still be where we are on this matter and talking….like I’m doing now. Hehe.

    Forget that pretentious article I wrote that time about the law. I lied. I am in full support of violence against all gay bashers. They have our time. Why can’t we have their time too? By the time we deal with 1 or 2 of them – that kind of beating where the bloodied eyeball will be hanging out of the socket by a mere tissue – and we have made all the major headlines the next day, the idiots will go back and tell their friends the story.

  4. Did anybody watch that episode of “queer as folk” where they started “Pink Positive force”? We need something like that.
    I do have a story where a blackmailer was severely dealt with. The truth is that money gives you a voice, gives you connections which gives you power. You can call the DPO, explain the “difficult situation” you are in and he will send you a gang of “understanding officers” who won’t ask questions and you thoroughly deal with the person involved.
    We need to make money!!!

  5. Nah, Dennis. We don’t need money. After all we have gays in high places and govt who kept mum on the law. What you’re talking about means that homosexuality will remain a crime but if you have connections, you can escape jail. That’s not the rights we need. What we need is a will; seems many of us have not gotten to that enough-is-enough phase.

    And oh, that episode of QAF you mentioned…on point.

  6. @Ace Good luck with that. I only hope I’m not near you when that gaydar shii fails…*shudder*

    Much as I don’t like the whole set-up n gaybash thingy, I think some ppl.deserve it ESPECIALLY those ‘converters’. There is this mumu on a conversion rampage who wants to ‘tear my nyash’ according to the words of my friend. My friend puts up the converters number on his PM n asks all his contacts to check against their phonebook n out him to his family if they have his number. I immediately text Mr Randy converter, ask him to dstroy his SIM n also not hook up with anybody. What will mumu say “I’m not A gay o”. LIKE SERIOUSLY!!! Will TB ppl ever learn?

  7. I can’t agree more with Dannis here.

    We need to make an awful lot of cash. Money makes the world (especially the 9ja world ) go round.

    By all means, get the police involved! Hire a lawyer! Hookup with a compassionate gay friendly journalist who will be willing to publish our story. These things will require pouring serious cash down the drain, but the stupid anti gay laws aren’t going to change if we don’t have the cash to move things in our own little way.

    As for those Sorry blackmail guys, I’m still flipping through my book , searching for the right response.

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