“KILLING MY MOTHER” – Review
Posted on May 27, 2014 by The Quest
….. by Michael Gaffney
I was fortunate to witness Ade’s recent performance of “Killing my Mother“. What an arresting title and it soon became apparent how it came about. The performance was performed at the School of Social Entrepreneurs where The Quest hold it’s workshops.
I have experienced many profound and powerful feelings in this venue and this event was no exception.
I was immediately drawn in to the emotion of Ade’s vivid, visceral and candid story of his life. The immediacy and power of events was conveyed by the story being told in the present tense, although the story moved backwards and forwards between different years. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion and there were also flashes of humour, which meant that the story felt incredibly rounded, grounded and real.
I was stuck by how many times Ade portrayed himself as an outsider, different, not fitting in, being a minority in so many ways: born to a Nigerian family and then fostered by a white British family, returning to Nigeria as a boy after having experienced British culture, loosing his hair as a young man, being the only child of his mother, being left handed, returning to the UK to study, and of course, the big one: growing up gay in a straight man’s world.
All of these things added up for me a feeling of disconnection. Even the photograph printed in the order of service for his Mother’s funeral, meant to be him, was not of him. Invalidating Ade at a deeply emotional time. We all crave connection, a feeling of belonging, a feeling of wanting acceptance, validation and being celebrated.
This was not Ade’s story.
Ade’s story was about the beatings, the cultural clashes between African raditions and Christian beliefs, the shame and denial his mother projected on to Ade when he tried to tell her of his sexuality….”if you are gay you will kill me”. The ultimate shaming, deeply wounding and toxic statement for a young, sensitive gay man to hear. All of Ade’s experiences painted an incredibly painful time. Physically, emotionally and psychologically. How would he cope, survive and overcome from these pains?
The desperation Ade felt to try and numb this pain, and escape Nigeria, was so immense that he was willing to steal his Mother’s jewellery to pay for an airline ticket to the UK.
One of the things that resonated deeply with me was the religious/irrational zeal that was used to try and “cure” Ade of being gay. I have some personal experience of these irrational, dysfunctional and dangerous beliefs. Part of my own story.
Ade also went on to describe the pressures and expectations he felt from his Mother’s ego, as her only child, for him to have children and make her a grandmother. She compounded her own shame by the fact that she would lie to other women about Ade, his sexuality and his lifestyle.
Throughout the whole performance I was gripped by the raw emotion and the skillful way in which Ade told his story. The minutes just flew by.
For me, it’s remarkable what Ade has done to not only survive these traumas but turn his life in to the service of helping others through the work of The Quest.
Ultimately I experienced Ade’s story as a triumph, a celebration, a deeply personal and incredibly moving story. A triumph of the resilience of the human spirit, a celebration of the beauty of life. I feel deeply honoured to have witnessed Ade’s life story.
I was gripped, on the edge of my seat and totally, totally engaged during this evening of magnificent, inspirational and what must have been for Ade, emotionally exhausting story telling. There was a massive round of applause in the room at the end of the performance. The emotion was palpable and electrifying.
Although some countries have moved on and are now starting to accept, validate and even celebrate gay men there are still 77 countries where men can be criminalized or even receive a death sentence for being gay. For me, Ade’s story is a part of trying to make change happen and enable gay men to live free from the threat of persecution and be celebrated.
Thank you Ade for sharing your story. I wish you huge success whenever, wherever you tell your story again. Enormous thanks for having the courage to be vulnerable and dare greatly.