Since the signing of the Nigeria Anti LGBT Bill in 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan, there has been a drastic increase in attacks against LGBT persons in Nigeria. Every now and then, there is news about LGBT persons caught and tortured by community members. In fact, many unscrupulous elements who are locally known as ‘Kito’ have turned the predicament of LGBT persons into a business entity by setting them up and robbing them of their belongings. and even going as far as murdering them. Practically, things have gone from good to worse for these Nigerian minorities.
Shulammite Nkiru Emeghara is one super talented Nigerian who was able to escape the wrath of her influential family over her sexuality. She was the Highlife Music Act winner at the 2014 Top Naija Music Awards, a nominee of the Nigeria Entertainment Awards, USA etc who on her tour to Turkey had to find it impossible to return to Nigeria when her uncle turned her sexuality into a threat, even involving the police who are readily looking for LGBTQ persons to pounce on owing to the 2014 Anti LGBT law signed by the former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan that would practically put people like her in prison for as long as 14 years once convicted of homosexuality, a draconian law that has put to many lives at a big risk of so many things.
It was a dramatic experience for her, she said. It changed her world entirely. Her plans of making it in Nigeria; her plans of contributing to the growth of the Nigerian music industry; that message from her uncle made her distant from her birthplace.
We recently caught up with her in London, where she is seeking asylum in order to learn about her journey so far since she left the shores of Nigeria as well as to talk about her future plans, especially as a musician that she is.
Sandra: It’s nice Chatting with you Shulammite since you left Nigeria for safety I suppose
Shulammite: Thanks Sandra for having me, it hasn’t been nice at all but thank God for keeping us alive to expect a better tomorrow.
Sandra: So, I know your name to be Shulammite Nkiru Emeghara while your professional stage name is Shuleydee, but for the purpose of this interview, I would like to address you as Shulammite, hope you don’t mind?
Shulammite: No, I don’t mind. Shulammite is fine.
Sandra: So, can you briefly narrate what ensured between you and your uncle that led to the dilemma that you currently face
Shulammite: It’s a time of my life that I don’t want to remember because I have seen the worst that life has to offer practically. That feeling of total disconnection from a family I love and grew with affected my psyche. I am who I am, I didn’t make myself. God in heaven made me. But unfortunately, Nigeria and the majority of her people don’t know what makes us, they don’t know our complexities, our nature, our struggles etc. They just see it as nobody. That’s painful you know. And then for the Family to pick on those as a yardstick to treat one of their own makes it sound very ridiculous.
But as it were, I got to suffer those treatments from my family all because I was trying to be sincere.
Sandra: So how have you fared since you left Nigeria?
Shulammite: It hasn’t been an easy life for me at all. I have really tried so much to move on with life. Thanks to my music, my management and my friends especially my girlfriend who became my new family. As an Orphan and also an outcast, life was difficult to manoeuvre. But as a serious member of the Jehovah’s Witness congregation, I was able to lean onto God for succour and pray for better years ahead. So I basically lived one day at a time.
Sandra: Tell Us About Istanbul
Shulammite: Istanbul was the place I could stay at that time due to the fact that my management booked me a tour there already. It truly felt like home. I met many people. I toured clubs and even recorded some new songs there with some Nigerian producers. But I can’t live there forever because it is an anti-gay country. But at least, I was able to stay till I moved to London.
Sandra: Tell Us About The Moment You Knew That Nigeria Was A No Going Back For You
Shulammite: Yeah! While I was in Istanbul doing my shows and all, and then planning to come back to Nigeria to continue to get busy as my management had a whole lot on the ground for me, then the message that will keep me out almost forever got to my email. A message from my uncle saying I couldn’t return to Nigeria to live a public life if I was a lesbian, that I have to change my orientation before I come back because I was of the marriageable age and needed to get married to a guy and all. This was that moment that I have dreaded since my adulthood you know. This message indicated that I was practically in Danger if I returned to Nigeria and I know my uncle for what he has done and what he can do. He wasn’t someone I wanted to try anything funny with you know, so the option I had at that time was to stay back in Istanbul and just keep my head somewhere and then make the next plans.
Sandra: Talk About Your Latest In Music
Shulammite: Yeah! Music is something I love to do so much. And as a multiple award-winning artiste, I knew I had a calling to fulfil. People love my music. So many have asked me why I haven’t done much. But thanks to my management who released my debut EP, Mellow Vibes in February. The EP did so well, as it was my comeback to the music industry post covid. And we are already planning my next release which should be my debut album. So with the help of my management, the music dream is still very much alive.
So, the album release date will be announced by the end of the year because the release is supposed to take place in early 2022 by God’s grace. All things being equal, it should put us on the map because I and my management have put in so much work to make it a masterpiece. So I want all my fans to expect nothing but the best.
Sandra: Thanks Shulamite for this opportunity to have this chat with you. Hope to hear from you again some other time with bigger news from your life and your music and all
Shulammite: Thanks, Sandra! You are most welcome