Bamidele Adeneye is a friend from Nigeria. Here he, kindly, recounts threats to life: his.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You have had threats to your life. What have they been, my friend?
Bamidele Adeneye: Well, it all started in 2014 when I had a video interview challenging miracle healers and pastors in my country, Nigeria. I didn’t even know the video would be aired on TV. Then the calls started coming in. I even noticed that friends and people I did business with started avoiding me.
Then I had to rescue a gentleman from death in Kano because he denounced Islam and his family were going to hurt him. That made me famous to not just Christians but Muslims as the face of atheism in Nigeria. My phone number was listed on my social media account and I guess that’s where they got my number from. I would receive calls from strangers saying things like they were going to kill me.
Online messages promising to “show” me. It was a very disturbing experience. I became paranoid because it’s Nigeria. I am surrounded by people who see me as an agent of the devil, even relatives. I lost friends as well. Because of the situation, I had to change my daughter’s school. My sister’s who live abroad are always worried because they are the threats online and even get told by people they know to earn me that I should be careful.
Jacobsen: Can you recall some examples?
Adeneye: There are quite a number of them. I was as recently as July physically attacked by a group of strangers while I was trying to get back to my car. They called my social media name and when I mistakenly answered, I was attacked. They kept saying I’m the agent of the devil all the while they were beating on me. I had to escape. I was so afraid.
Calls at odd times of the day from hidden numbers issuing threats, promising attacks on me and my family. I had to get dogs to protect my home at some point before I later decided to move them to a sage location. It became difficult to live as a family as we couldn’t go out together in public anymore. We spent our holidays at home most of the time because I was afraid of potential attacks on us.
Jacobsen: You are traveling. Are these threats part of the reason for the travels?
Adeneye: Definitely. It became necessary to stay away from my home and my family. I took long breaks away from home for peace of mind. I had to create a space between myself and my loved ones for security reasons. My younger brother who looks exactly like me has been targeted as well. He had to deactivate his social media account because of backlash from people who thought he was me.
Jacobsen: What countries did you visit? What did you expect in terms of the social and cultural aspects of religion entering in these countries? What was the actual experience there?
Adeneye: I took trips to the UK to see my family and friends. It felt normal being an unbeliever there. I also went to the USA where I met those who were exactly like the ones back home. Although, unlike Nigeria where you’re judged even at work by your religious beliefs or otherwise, you’re protected by law somewhat by the law in the USA. I’m planning to visit Canada to are what it truly means to live in a liberal secular state.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Bamidele.
Adeneye: You’re welcome, Scott.