Fiyabo: The Story of Nigerian Gay Christian Davis Mac-Iyalla

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Fiyabo by Davis Mac-IyallaDavis Mac-Iyalla wrote his story down in a book: Fiyabo. On 7th January 2014, the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, enacted some of the most extreme anti-gay laws on the planet. For example, holding hands with someone of the same sex, or being a member of a gay support organisation can earn you up to ten years in jail. This has been done with the hearty approval of the Nigerian Anglican Church. In practice, widespread mob violence against gay people has ensued, with horrific abuses of human rights. Davis Mac-Iyalla is a Nigerian settled in UK, and an Anglican Christian, who lived and worked in Nigeria until he was forced to flee in 2006. He was one of the first Nigerian gay men to come out publically and has campaigned for the rights of LGBTI people for over twenty years. He co-founded Alliance Rights, the first gay and lesbian network in Nigeria, and in 2005 founded Changing Attitude Nigeria, the Nigerian wing of the international organisation Changing Attitude, which supports LGBTI Anglicans. He is a lay reader, a Knight of the Church of Nigeria, and in February of 2008, received the “Bishop Desmond Tutu Award for Human Rights and Social Justice” from the World Pride and Power Organisation . In 2008, following imprisonment, torture, violent attack, and a string of death threats, he was forced to flee Africa for the UK where he continues his fight for human rights. In Davis’ native language, ‘Fiyabo’ (the title of this book), means ‘Survivor’. Davis and his LGBTI brothers and sisters are survivors. They fight and continue to fight to make fellow Nigerians and fellow Africans understand that being gay is not un-African, nor un-Nigerian, nor ungodly, but simply the way some people are.

Davis Mac-Iyalla and Jan Beddeleem on Tyne Cot Cemetry in 2009

Davis Mac-Iyalla and Jan Beddeleem in 2009 on Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetry and Memorial to the dead and the missing of the First World War.

“Davis has done a magnificent job exposing the victimisation of gay people in Nigeria – a victimisation that is incited and endorsed by the Anglican Church of Nigeria.” Peter Tatchell, British human rights defender. “I hesitate to call anyone a saint – that is really God’s busness. But for me Davis displays the qualities, beginning with the great humanity, that we associate with such campaigners as William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Peter Tatchell.” John Henson, Baptist Minister and author of ‘Good As New’, ‘The Gay Disciple‘, ‘Make Christmas Real’ etc. “Davis’ new book will touch the hearts and minds of all who read it.'” Ifalade Ta’Shia Asanti, Award-winning journalist, Activist and Author.

Davis Mac-Iyalla 2009 drawing by by Jo Veldeman

Davis Mac-Iyalla by artist Jo Veldeman – 2009

Davis Mac-Iyalla was invited to vist Belgium by WISH vzw in 2009 and visited Belgian and European MP’s as well as different NGO’s. It was a mutual enriching experience and in chapter two, page 70 of the book he reflects on this journey to Brussels and Flanders.  Read the dutch interview Davis gave that time to the daily newspaper De Morgen here

Order the book here.