June 14, 2024

The Daily Vendor

Nigeria Digital Newspaper

PERSONAL NARRATIVE BY MNWE UDONNA MICHAEL

7 min read

My name is Udonna Michael Mnwe. I was born on January 1,1995, in Mbala, Abia State of Nigeria. 

I am a citizen of Nigeria. I am not a dual citizen of any other country. My parents are Uwazurike and Okwudiri Mnwe.

I am seeking asylum in Canada because, my life is in danger in my home country, simply because I am homosexual.

My problem may have started from the day I was born. I came out of my mother’s womb with an unusually very light skin colour in an area where the majority of people have very dark skin. My skin tone has always drawn attention to me; both positive and negative attention for that matter.

Hence, this is the reason why the entire town call me “Nwoke ocha” meaning a light skin male or “Oyibo” meaning a white man. As soon as I became aware of myp surroundings, I was preyed upon by men around me, who found me very attractive just like a girl.

I started primary school in the year, 2000, and finished in 2006. On the day I confirmed that I would be going to start my secondary school at (Mbala Secondary School in Abia State) in 2007, I was so happy that I went to inform my uncle, Ikenna, about the exciting news. 

He gave me Fanta brand of soft drink, and started touching me and finally sodomized me. I was confused about his action; but there was no one I could confide in.

Uncle Ikenna sodomized me, and had also made me to touch his penis, until he felt satisfied. That was the first time anyone had such affair with me; and that experience never left me. I went into Mbala Secondary School with that experience in my mind. 

Few hours in my new school, a senior student by the name, Victor, made sure that I got the top of his bunk. The rule in the dormitory was that junior students would get the top bunk, while the senior students took the main bed.

I knew what he wanted from me, and I had no idea how to say no to him. He had his way with me always – in the room, school store, and even in the school chapel – whenever no one was around. 

He was so possessive of me that he would make up an excuse to beat up or punish anyone that appeared to be close to me. By the time I got to my junior secondary 3, it had become obvious that some students were making all sorts of rude remarks, and calling me names like“Girly” “Tomato Jos’’ and  “bottom power”. By the time I got to my final year in school, I already had four boyfriends.

One of those days, a group of students attacked me as I was going back to the dormitory from the class room. They hit me in the eyes, and I almost lost my sight. Another group also threw faeces mixed with urine on me.

Going to school in Nigeria while feeling like an outcast was inexplicably torturous. My journey to this point has been filled with fear, discrimination, and constant threat of persecution. This happened so much that I had to move out of the school dormitory and completed my education as a Day student.

The realization of my sexuality came to me at an incredibly young age – at the age of seven. Little did I know then that this realization would shape the trajectory of my life, leading me on a perilous journey to find a haven where I can be true to myself without being afraid for my life.

Since my secondary school, my homosexuality was met with vehement opposition, and intolerance. The mere whisper of my true identity could spell disaster for me and my family. As I entered adolescence, my torment intensified. I was forced to suppress my true self, burying my feelings deep within, and pretending to be someone I was not. 

I constantly feared discovery, knowing that the consequences could be dire. But my life took a harrowing turn when my sexuality was exposed to a broader circle of people.The persecution I faced was unbearable. I was ostracised by friends and family, subjected to verbal and physical abuses, and lived in constant fear of violence. 

The threats to my life became real, and I knew I had to flee my homeland to survive. I had suffered physical violence. I’ve been beaten, brutalized, and bullied for my attraction to men. I did not, and have never made unsolicited advances toward men or anybody, yet, I am treated less than a human being.

I started having girls lurking around me as soon as I finished my education. They approached me each time I was in any function, and sometimes, competing with each other, and seeking my attention. The truth is that I never had any complimentary feelings for girls. 

In the course of time, I met one Dj Jay when I went for an event in Aba, Abia State. He was entertaining the people, and was looking at me. When I was leaving, he approached me and gave me his phone number. I didn’t know he realized I was  gay. He wooed me, and we started dating. 

I always went with him whenever he was having shows. Few weeks after I met him, he performed in a Foundation concert organized by a certain politician. 

After the concert, I went to a motel outside Umuahia with DJ Jay, and we started having fun in his room. When the door bell rang, he went to open the door for the waiter; but suddenly, the door was kicked open, and a group of men started beating us. But, before that time, I never knew that the hotel was notorious, being owned by a suspected homosexual.

That day, the vigilante and the youths decided to attack the hotel, and the patron. We were beaten-up, and dragged out of the room. When we got to the courtyard, we noticed that they were beating others as well. I was badly injured.

What saved us was timely intervention of the owner of the motel, who called the politician and he sent security men to stop our persecutors, and saved us. The motel was subsequently burnt down that day.

I woke up in the hospital the next day, and one week later, the politician came to the hospital to see victims of the chaos, and promised to pay our hospital bills. While he was walking from bed to bed, he came to me. A member of his entourage named Uche, looked at me, and after they left, he came back to take my phone number.

After I came out of the hospital,  Uche gave me money, and got me a passport. Then, he invited me to Abuja, and he told me that he wanted me to be one of his aides. Then, he asked me to massage him. He told me that he loves me from the minute they entered the hospital. He told me that he executed all contracts for the politician, and from then, I became his lover. He also called me to see him in his various guest houses.

I longed for the freedom to express my love openly, to be with someone I cared about without fearing for our safety. It feels like an unattainable dream, as my past and present press me down as the discrimination and hostility against LGBTQ+individuals persisted.

In 2021, I applied for Canada visa. When it was out, without contacting anyone, I used the money I saved to leave Nigeria.

My heart aches whenever I think about the years I wasted, the pains I endured, and the constant struggle to live authentically. Yet, throughout this journey, I’ve held on to the hope that there is a place where I can finally be free to love and express myself without fear of persecution or violence.

Now, I stand at the threshold of a new beginning, seeking asylum in Canada, a country known for its commitment to human rights and LGBTQ+inclusivity. I fervently hope that Canada will provide me with the refuge and safety I desperately need. I dream of a life where I can openly embrace my identity, love who I choose, and contribute to a society that values diversity, and human rights.

This asylum is not just a legal process; it is my lifeline, my chance to escape the torment of my past, and to build a brighter, more authentic future.

As I await a decision on my asylum application, I hold onto the belief that there is a place in this world where I can live without fear; be true to myself without consequences, and where love knows no boundaries. 

My journey has been marked by pain and hardship; but I am determined to persevere, and find the freedom and acceptance that has eluded me for so long. I plan to start a new life in Canada, rebuild my life, and live as I was meant to be.

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