Nigeria: Oludare Odumuye, Nigerian Human Rights Activist Has Died, Aged 41

By Revd Rowland Jide Macaulay, Pastor House Of Rainbow, Lagos, Nigeria

Oludare Olutosin Toluwalase Odumuye popularly known as Erelu within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Community died on the 20th May 2007. It was reported that he was taken ill a few weeks prior to his death.

Oludare was the Director of Alliance Right Nigeria, an organization which advocated for the rights of LGBTI people in Nigeria since 1999, provided Sexual health information, Advice, Seminars and Training programme.

Oludare made more friends and helped a lot of Nigerians come to terms with their Sexual Orientation. He is an ardent member of House Of Rainbow, Lagos Nigeria. Many people in the community are in a state of shock when it was revealed that he had died.

Oludare is an International Hero for many Nigerians, He made friends, relationship and forged partnership with many foreign organizations. Oludare is well known by the International Human Rights community.

He was the recipient of many awards for his contributions to the LGBTI community in Nigeria including the ASHOKA award 2004.

As LGBTI Nigerians mourn their hero, his family, as often expected in Nigeria made a rapid and quick decision to bury him on the 24th May 2007.

This left no doubt a disappointing gap in the minds of many people. It was felt that his life was worth a greater celebration.

Oludare with Alliance Right Nigeria made a significant impact in the struggle of LGBTI people in the nation and made friends in the world, he infiltrated the Nigerian government with his activism and jointly led the campaign for the Human Rights of many people, especially against the Same Sex Prohibition Bill 2006.

The loss is difficult to comprehend, however, at House Of Rainbow, we dedicated a part of the Service on the 27th May 2007 to his loving memory and allowed people to grieve and celebrate our brother Oludare.

On a personal level, I first met Oludare Odumuye in October 2004, prior to meeting we have been in constant communication for nearly two years. We worked together on many issues affecting LGBTI people and Human Rights in Nigeria.

In March 2006, we met again at the ILGA World conference in Geneva Switzerland. There we herald the cause and plight of LGBTI people following the drastic introduction of a draconian Same Sex Prohibition Bill 2006.

In July 2006, we held an International Day of Prayer for LGBTI Nigerians, Oludare made a significant contribution by lending his voice with a quote.

"I applaud the concept of the ministries of Metropolitan Community Church, to look at the spiritual aspect of the human life and to include LGBTI people in the gospel truth and love of Religion, this is very important.

Since 1999, at the Alliance Right Nigeria, we have embraced the fight for the right of all humanity especially human rights for LGBTI Nigerians, we are embarking on the right to sexual health of sexual minorities.

We welcome the International Day of Prayer for LGBTI Nigerians, which would be our own day of Pentecost, we believe there would be a release of freedom from all forms of bondage." – Oludare Odumuye

After the inauguration of House Of Rainbow in Lagos, in September 2006, Oludare continued to remain in contact with the ministry and later joined and informed members of the community about the church, we are glad to named Oludare as a member of House Of Rainbow.

On the 4th December 2006, he visited House Of Rainbow Lagos, not just to worship but to take part in the programme during the World AIDS Day weekend, He sang his favourite song "My eyes are on the Sparrow" and during the hour long discussion/debate he impacted with knowledge his skills in Sexual Health and Care.

Oludare was a caring man and everyone that came to know him will acknowledge his fairness and awesome struggle to liberate and forge an existence for the millions of LGBTI Nigerians.

In February 2007, I received a phone call from Oludare informing me of the Public Hearing debate at the Nigerian National Assembly in Abuja, he was one of the lead members of the Coalition for the Defence of the Rights of Sexual Minorities. His activism and proactive nature meant that we were able to work leaving no stones unturned in preparation for a difficult Public Hearing.

In March 2007, on another visit to Abuja Nigeria, Oludare assisted the coordination of a meeting to introduce LGBTI people in a special programme with House Of Rainbow.

As we mourn this great loss to our nation and most especially to our community. I write with sadness but we are rest assured that Oludare has gone to become an angel in heaven and will never be forgotten.