Kinto Rothmans Kwesi before and after February attack. (Photo courtesy of Flex Newspaper and others)
By Yaw Amanfoh
What leads a person to ruin the lives of other people for nothing but a paycheck?
This year, on Feb. 26, Ghana’s Flex Magazine published an article called “Exposing Gays and Lesbians in the Showbiz Industry.” Its author, Ebenezer Narh Affum, stated in the article that there was a “dire need” to expose the sexual preferences of Ghana’s entertainers.
That didn’t make sense to me. I responded to what I thought was an evil (and lazy) news “story” with the article “Outed! Can LGBT Africans Ever Be Safe?” in this blog, condemning Flex magazine and the harm it has undoubtedly done. I included a bloody photo of music promoter Kinto Rothmans Kwesi, who was attacked last year in Ghana after a similar allegation about his sexual orientation.
I contacted Affum for an interview and three months later he agreed. This gave me an opportunity to discuss with him his apparent fascination with queer people in Ghana and his responsibility for what happens after he outs them.
This is a modestly edited transcript of that interview:
Q: Thank you for being willing to do this interview. I know we’ve tried this is the past and it was unsuccessful. I will be asking you questions about the article you wrote on outing celebrities as gay, lesbian, etc. Is this okay?
Q: Thank you for your participation. First off, please be as honest as you possibly can. If you don’t feel comfortable with a question, feel free to not answer.
Q: What is your title with Flex Magazine and how long have you been with the company?
Affum: I am a columnist. I’ve been with Flex for about four years now.
Q: What is that you usually write about?
Affum: I write only on showbiz in Ghana.
Q: Was that always a passion of yours, to write about the lives of celebrities in Ghana?
Affum: I have always had the passion of writing about showbiz but not necessarily about celebrities.
Q: Okay. So what motivated to write your article about outing celebrities? Was that an idea you had in mind or more so the team’s idea?
Affum: I come up with my own ideas and follow up on them.
Location of Ghana in West Africa
Q: So that was your idea? What motivated you to write that piece?
Affum: I have reliable sources who give me clues as well. My motivation for the kind of stories I do is to ensure that there is sanity in the showbiz industry and disabuse the minds of people who think that one cannot morally upright if one finds himself in the showbiz industry.
Q: Is being LGBT+ insane?
Affum: Being a gay or lesbian, in my opinion, isn’t the right way to go. Why was a man and a women created in the first place by God if a man’s companion could be another man? Have we considered the side effects of gayism and lesbianism? There are so many gays and lesbians in the showbiz but they are just not brave to come out, all because they know it’s not right by Ghanaian standards.
Q: Let’s say there are “many” gays and lesbians in showbiz who aren’t out. What would be their reasoning?
Affum: They are just not brave enough to make their preferences known, as they know it’s not right.
Q: What would be their reason to not be “brave” and come out?
Affum: They would be seen as strange, morally bankrupt.
Q: Would you blame them for not coming out to stay safe?
Affum: I would not blame them, but the practice of gayism and lesbianism isn’t right.
Q: You have mentioned bravery a couple of times. Would the people whom you all are trying to expose feel “brave” afterwards?
Affum: I don’t think so.
Q: How do you think they would feel after being exposed?
Affum: Definitely they would feel embarrassed and disgraced.
Q: As well as terrified for their lives considering what happened to He’, correct?
Q: Don’t you think that they would be scared of potential physical and emotional harm after being exposed?
Affum: When exposed, they would only be embarrassed. I don’t think they would be any physical harm.
Q: How do you know that they would only be embarrassed?
Affum: Ghana is quite peaceful and no one would physically harm a gay or a lesbian.
Q: But that has happened to people believed to be gay or lesbian.
Q: Kinto Rothmans was suspected of being gay and was brutally beaten for it. Is that not the same thing?
Affum: It won’t happen in Ghana.
[Editor’s note: It did.]
Me: Unfortunately, I’ve heard discrimination, physical abuse and homicides associated with gay, lesbians and trans people have occurred in recent years. Those reports are from reliable news sources.
Affum: In Ghana??
Q: I would want to not think that, but it has happened and will, unfortunately, continue. So how long will your expose-the-gays raids continue?
Affum: So long as I am still writing.
Q: Is it necessary? Aren’t there more worthwhile stories that you can write?
Affum: I don’t concentrate on that alone.
Q: I understand, but is it necessary?
Affum: Sure. Why not?
Q: Well, they are just rumors if they aren’t coming from the person in question. Knowing that queer people could be harmed in Ghana (including the people whom you out), do you feel compelled to write these stories?
Affum: (No response)
Here’s what’s really going on
Affum and Flex Magazine claim that they are doing a service to the Ghanaian community by outing celebrities. They are not. It is contradictory to condemn gay celebrities while simultaneously claiming that involuntarily outing them encourages them to be brave and results in no harm.
Braimah “Bukom Banku” Kamoko
Who LGBTQ+ Ghanaian celebrities sleep with is no one’s business but their own.
At the same time, these same journalists ignore crimes and misbehavior by straight celebrities. Braimah “Bukom Banku” Kamoko, the professional boxer, admitted to racism, adultery and domestic violence in an interview with Joy News on May 7. Many of Ghana’s politicians, including President John Mahama, are guilty of corruption. Flex apparently doesn’t consider any of that to be newsworthy.
What bothers me most is Affum’s claim that he knows nothing about
attacks on queer people in Ghana. He’s obviously lying, because his article about outing gay celebrities included photos of Kinto Rothmans Kwesi before and after he was beaten in the streets of Nima, Ghana. Rothmans was attacked after being accused of having same-sex relations with a friend. An anti-gay group in Nima then video-recorded him being whipped by canes.
That incident provoked a vigorous discussion within Ghana’s entertainment sector. Notable celebrities such as IWAN and Efya criticized the attack and supported their friend and colleague.
But Affum doesn’t care about queer lives. He’s not alone in that heartlessness — one need only look as far as Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ law (Article 104 in Ghana’s Criminal Code), which provides for up to three years in prison for consensual same-sex relations between men.
Affum claims that he wants to encourage “bravery” in the people they are outing, but he doesn’t care — and claims not to know — what happens afterward.
So he and Flex publish articles that are poisonous.
He and Flex don’t understand the lives of the average LGBTQ+ Ghanaian. How could the Flex team understand what bravery is in a marginalized and targeted community when they have no idea what life in that community is like?
Yaw Amanfoh is a Ghanaian-American, queer-identifying, gay man who recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
- Exposing Gays And Lesbians In The Showbiz Industry (Feb. 16, 2016, Flex Newspaper)
- Homosexuality Exists In Ghana`s Entertainment Industry – Iwan (Ghana Vibes)
- Akwaaba! (Welcome!), says Ghana — but not if you’re gay (Feb. 5, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Southern African Anglicans to LGBT people: Welcome (Feb. 26, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Archbishop of Canterbury to LGBTI community: Sorry! (Jan. 15, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Nigerian gay activist: I’m a champion, not a victim (video) (March 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Ghanaian man receives beating of his life for being gay (February 2015, KoKoFeed)