The long history of cross-dressing in Nigeria



It isn’t something that just started with Idris Okuneye known as Bobrisky, a viral internet sensation whose videos are hilarious to some people.

In the 1970s, there was a man known as Area Scatter whose real name is Uzoma Odimara.

On normal days, he was a civil servant but on other days he dressed like a woman with braided hair, pierced ears and catwalked the streets of Imo.

He was also a skilled musician who was invited to events and parties to perform and had many TV appearances.

Apart from Area Scatter, there was also the Calypso King in the 1980s who believed that he was a woman.

He was an actor and singer who later got married to a woman and had children to prove that he was not impotent.

Left to him he would have married a man. He also wanted to cut off his genitals and change his sex.

In the Northern part of Nigeria, especially in cities like Kano, there are many effeminate men called Yan Daudu meaning men who act like women.

In Hausa traditional religion, Boori, homosexuality is not a sin.

Yan Daudu means sons of Daudu. Daudu was a fun-loving gambling spirit worshipped in Hausa traditional religion whose rituals and practices included homosexual sex.

However, Islam prohibits homosexuality. So, even though they exist in the North, they are not generally accepted.

Denrele Edun, a popular TV host, was popularly known in the 2000s with high heeled shoes, elaborate hairdo, makeup, and painted nails.

Denrele does not accept the cross-dresser tag despite his feminine outfits.

In an interview with Modern Ghana, he said, “I am just expressing my individuality. Most people ask me that question and I would say I just want to be me. Some people think I dress (cross-dressing) like this to attract attention, but I have always had attention from childhood”

Nowadays, we have so many crossdressers, Bobrisky leading the pack, followed by James Brown and Jay Boogie. These men have transformed their bodies to look like women.

This year, Umar Muda, a member of the House of Representatives introduced a bill to prohibit cross-dressing in Nigeria.

The bill will be an amendment of the Same Sex Prohibition Act to include six months of jail time for crossing-dressing. This bill threatens the source of income of many cross-dressers who have become popular influencers.

The question remains, considering the long history of cross-dressing, should the Nigerian government look the other way or uphold religious convictions even though Nigeria is a secular state?


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