The arrest of queer icon Bobrisky, symbol of Nigerian transphobia

It’s not easy to define who Bobrisky is: socialite, social media influencer, transgender woman, queer icon and, now, host of the Nigerian prison system. She is currently serving the first of the six months of detention to which she was sentenced for “spraying” (an expression that could be translated as “to make it rain”), a festive tradition in Nigeria which consists of throwing banknotes in the air or sticking them to one’s body.

This practice – which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) considers to be an attack on the national currency, the naira – is quite widespread and rarely gives rise to prosecution.

The context is particular: the Nigerian authorities are trying to save face, failing to be able to save the value of the naira, which is falling sharply against the dollar. In Bobrisky’s case, however, many Nigerians – including some of her critics – believe she was condemned because she challenged the country’s conservatism on issues of sexuality and gender expression.

Social conservatism and economic failure

Among the evidence presented during his trial, a video shows Bobrisky throwing bills in the air after receiving the prize “best dressed woman” at a film premiere in March. A few days after his conviction, the Nigerian government indicated that after “a careful examination” he was able to confirm that Bobrisky had not undergone gender reassignment surgery.

Glamorous, ultra-feminine, brittle and iconic star, Bobrisky has experienced a rise

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The Continent (Johannesburg)

It is at the heart of a world turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic that The Continent launched in April 2020. This original media aims to bring together “the best reports” made in the four corners of the African continent. “Never has the need to have access to precise, in-depth and accurate information been so pressing”, writes the title in its first editorial. “We cannot distribute screening tests to you. We don’t have ventilators, but we have a vital job to do: inform you.” Backed by the very famous South African newspaper Email & Guardian, The Continent is a weekly newspaper available free of charge, in PDFand designed to be shared on social networks.

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