A Latter-Day Sodom and Babylon: Nigerian Citizen Journalists' Representations of Obama's “Gay America”

A Latter-Day Sodom and Babylon: Nigerian Citizen Journalists' Representations of Obama's “Gay America”

Floribert Patrick C. Endong (University of Calabar, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9312-6.ch001


This chapter examines the manner in which Nigerian bloggers and web journalists interpreted, framed and represented Obama's gay rights diplomacy in Nigeria. The chapter specifically explores the extent to which these web journalists' interpretations of the American pro-gay movement generated new religion-inspired representations of the U.S. government and Americans on the social networks. The study is based on a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of over 162 online articles generated by Nigerian citizen journalists in reaction to Obama's gay rights advocacy in Nigeria and Africa. It answers the following research questions: how did Nigerian web/citizen journalists frame Obama's pro-gay move? What was their tone? How did they represent America and its people in their articles or posts? And how did religion and culture influence the latter's representations of America and Americans?
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To many Nigerians, America is a very attractive country, an el dorado and a premier destination for academic tourism or asylum seeking. To such Nigerian nationals, the word “America” conjures up liberty, plenty (economic prosperity) and equality as well as a heaven for all those who feel politically, culturally, economically or religiously persecuted. Thus, America is seen by many Nigerians as a country where anyone can write his own destiny. The quotidian influences of pro-American myths and prominent global media such as Hollywood, CNN, VOA, Ebony Magazine, American pop music and other transnational cultures have, over the years, succeeded in Americanizing or winning the hearts and minds of many Nigerians for the U.S. (Alford, 2009; Endong, 2018; Ibby, 2013; Idowu, 1999). This strong positive influence has caused both youth and old sub-cultures to view going to or emigrating into America as one of the most wonderful experiences one can have in life. As noted by Adaobi (2017) in a language punctuated with biblical allusions, most Nigerians see America as a promised land where all the imaginable miracles are worked. As she insightfully puts it, they (Nigerian communities) view America as “a land where clear waters gush and trees flourish with fresh dollar notes, where bees lose their sting and pigs fly; a land where lame feet are cured and blind eyes are opened” (p.3).

The veracity of the above-mentioned observation is somehow revealed by the fact that every year, tens of thousands of Nigerian nationals enter the US Diversity Visa Program with infinite hope of obtaining a permanent resident status so as to live the rest of their lives in America. Such veracity is further illustrated by the fact that every year, thousands of pregnant Nigerians seasonally travel to the U.S.A. in order to give birth to their babies, enabling their children born in America to have the American citizenship (by birth) and eventually enjoy “a better life” in the future. Furthermore, it is popularly believed among Nigerians that he who succeeds to emigrate to “Uncle Sam’s” country (among other western countries) is considered lucky even if nothing guarantees that such an emigrant will automatically achieve upward social and financial mobility over there. Nigerians are thus ready to do heavy and unimaginable sacrifices just to secure their immigration (legal or illegal) into America (Adaobi, 2017; Nfonobong, 2013).

In spite of this perceptible America mania, Nigerians have not remained indifferent to some of the postmodern paradigms and arguably/presumably “un-African” cultures America has over the years, advocated through its foreign policy. Indeed, concepts such as American expansionism, “forceful” promotion of human rights and US-styled democracy and radical feminism among others have not (always) been positively viewed or received by the Nigerian political and intelligentsia. The promotion of such values in the Nigerian socio-political sphere has often been aided by muscled rather than persuasive strategies deployed by America2. These muscled strategies have, in many instances been decried by Nigerian communities (Comstock, 2016; Page, 2017).

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