Bandy Kiki is a Cameroonian LGBT Activist and we got a chance to interview her on the work that she does.
TRT: Why did you decide you wanted to be an LGBT activist?
BANDY: I decided to become an LGBT activist because of the shocking number of people who support anti-gay violence and discrimination in Africa. Homophobia is on the rise and backed by anti-gay laws, cultural and religious beliefs. Most Africans think it is acceptable to be violent to gay and lesbian people.
As an LGBT activist, I hope to start an ‘uncomfortable’ conversation about gay and lesbian rights in Cameroon. The Cameroon government is not socially cohesive when it comes to the LGBT community, so hopeful an open conversation can change that.
TRT: How has the experience been so far?
BANDY: It has been an interesting experience as well as challenging, but then again I am always ready for a challenge especially when it comes to things I am passionate about.
TRT: You recently came out fully as a supporter of LGBT rights in Cameroon. How did that go?
BANDY: Cameroon is made up of several religious and ethnic groups and none of them including the government welcomes or accepts the LGBT community. So homophobia is inflamed by religious bigotry.
I have been cursed, sent death threats and sideline by some Cameroonians who think supporting or being part of the LGBT community is satanic. It is depressing sometimes but the dream is to change one mind at a time.
TRT: What has the experience taught you?
BANDY: Change is a process. Change can be very difficult to achieve especially in a community where the norms are not aligned to project such changes. But this experience has certainly made me very objective and resilient. And that resilience pays with consistency. Most people are resistant to change because they are ignorant or misinformed. I believe with more sensitization about LGBT people, many minds will begin to see it different from what it currently is now.
TRT: Tell us about the GIA Foundation?
BANDY: GIA Foundation is a newly created NGO fighting for the rights of LGBT community across Africa. It was founded by Cameroonian UK-based socialite Irene Major and I am part of the team working to achieve GIA’s objectives.
We are going to be more active in Cameroon before moving to other parts of Africa. At GIA we believe in letting love lead.
TRT: What are some of the challenges you feel are facing LGBT people in the continent and how can we deal with them?
BANDY: Firstly, the negative attitudes toward homosexuality in Africa has led to lower self-esteem and psychological distress within the LGBT community. Some homosexuals spend their whole lives fighting the heavy abuse and therefore have no room or time for anything else. This, including employment exclusion, accounts for the low economic empowerment in the LGBT community in Africa.
HIV infections among gay men in Africa is alarming! The negative attitudes toward homosexuality results to lack of help from the government and health organisations. Most of these men are left to their own fate.
TRT: What is your hope for LGBT rights in Africa?
BANDY: I hope the criminalisation, arbitrary arrests and police intimidation of LGBT people can stop. I also hope for LGBT-inclusion employment people across Africa.
TRT: Any other projects you would like us to look out for?
BANDY: Oh yes, currently working on a major project on LGBT minority refugees in the UK. We are opening a conversation about factors that make LGBT people unsafe in certain countries around the world.
Details of the project will be released soon.
TRT: What inspires you?
BANDY: The need to impact change is my driving force and core inspiration. I also have people like Bisi Alimi in the LGBT community who are a major source of inspiration.
TRT: A word of encouragement for our readers.
BANDY: We are the wheels of change in this modern world. It is our obligation to ignite the change we deserve. Though we may not drive it to the end, it is always necessary to have a start time. For me and my team, we remain confident that our little inputs will someday spark the flames that will bring out the changes we so much deserve in our world.
Songs on your playlist: Calee by Daphne, I choose you by Sara Bareilles, Gentleman by Ric Hassani, Jamais Jamais by Mr leo, Luv by Tory Lanez.
Favourite album of all time: Don’t have one
Celebrity Crush: Heather Pearce
Guilty Pleasure: Cuddling
Dream vacation spot: Spice Island Beach Resort