When it comes to crossdressing in Nigeria, the name “Bobrisky” definitely rings a bell. This is because he has carved a niche for himself, thereby making a shadow of the ones before him.
Cross-dressing is wearing outfits associated with another gender and it has a long history in Nigeria.
Not many knew that there was a cross dresser named Area Scatter whose real name is Uzoma Odimara in the 1970s.
He roamed the streets of Eastern Nigeria, playing melodic music with his ornamental thumb piano, singing in a rich, smooth voice and moving his body in an unusual yet fascinating manner.
He was by all means, the first and one of the few Nigerian transvestites to appear in mainstream media.
Strikingly, though, he was widely accepted at the time, in the deeply wounded country which was still fresh out of a deadly civil war.
Elders declared that nothing on modern TV could ever compare, even likening TV of the 21st century, to various forms of garbage.
Ukonu’s club had been labelled the best of its time and included a cast of some of the most notable African legends such as the late Christy Essein and Mazi Ukonu himself.
Area Scatter was one of the prominent members of Ukonu’s Club, the 20th Century TV show.
Area Scatter could mean one who frequently left a room in states of disarray and picked fights for all the wrong reasons.
However, “Area Scatter” was so much more than that. Legend has it that he was a civil servant in the olden days, when Nigeria was still brimming with hope and the number of jobs was greater than the number of graduates. The good ol’ days, before large scale corruption and dishonesty became a thing.
He was said to have disappeared into the wilderness at some point during the years of the war, only to re-emerge 7 months and 7 days later, as a beautifully adorned woman.
He claimed that during this period, the gods endowed him with supernatural powers which he used to enhance his musical talent and become more feminine.
This may sound outlandish but it made for a great back story which is always welcome in show business. As any humorous Nigerian would say, all na packaging.
Scatter sold himself so amply that he was invited to perform for various royals all over the East, ranging from Abia to far Enugu until he landed a gig on arguably the most popular TV show at the time, Ukonu’s Club.
“Many wonder though if Scatter would have been accepted in the deeply religious Nigeria of today?
“Scatter could have been gay, but I doubt anyone cared back then. It did not matter. He was not a thief, neither did he murder people,” says a blogger in 2017.
Where is Area Scatter today? Nobody knows.
There are rumours that he died in an auto crash on the Port Harcourt – Owerri express road many years ago but nobody seems to know exactly when. There are also no stories of any family members related to him or if he had any partner or children.
But one thing is certain, he made his mark.
Area Scatter is not the only Nigerian who publicly shattered gender boundaries and portrayed a somewhat accurate representation of its fluidity.
Apart from Area Scatter, there was also the Calypso King in the 1980s who believed that he was a woman.
He was an actor and singer who later got married to a woman and had children to prove that he was not impotent.
Left to him he would have married a man. He also wanted to cut off his genitals and change his sex.
In the Northern part of Nigeria, especially in cities like Kano, there are many effeminate men called Yan Daudu meaning men who act like women.
In Hausa traditional religion, Boori, homosexuality is not a sin.
Yan Daudu means sons of Daudu. Daudu was a fun-loving gambling spirit worshipped in Hausa traditional religion whose rituals and practices included homosexual sex.
However, Islam prohibits homosexuality. So, even though they exist in the North, they are not generally accepted.
Denrele Edun, a popular TV host, was popularly known in the 2000s with high heeled shoes, elaborate hairdo, makeup, and painted nails.
Denrele does not accept the cross-dresser tag despite his feminine outfits.
In an interview with Modern Ghana, he said: “I am just expressing my individuality. Most people ask me that question and I would say I just want to be me. Some people think I dress (cross-dressing) like this to attract attention, but I have always had attention from childhood.”
Nowadays, we have so many crossdressers, Bobrisky leading the pack, followed by James Brown and Jay Boogie. These men have transformed their bodies to look like women.