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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Transvestite trial the talk of Nigeria
By Amina Waziri
BBC correspondent in Kano

A transvestite faces trial in September in a case which has become a big talking point in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.

Abubakar Hamza
Abubakar Hamza has become a big celebrity in northern Nigeria
The issue of sexual orientation is a controversial one in Africa and the existence of transvestites usually gets little attention.

But 19-year-old Abubakar Hamza has become famous with posters of him dressed in women's clothes selling well among male admirers.

He is charged with living and dressing as a woman in the first case of its kind in this conservative city.

But what is shocking for many Nigerians is that he lived as a young woman in the heart of a family for seven years, without his secret being suspected.

Betrayal

The Adamu family, who have now themselves become celebrities in Kano, were shocked when they discovered Hamza was a transvestite.

Until his arrest they fondly called him Kawajo which in the Fulani language means friend.

The mother, Hajiya, says she treated him like her own teenage daughters.

"In fact whenever they quarrelled I always took his side because I never liked seeing him upset. I was so fond of him he was just like a daughter," she says.

During his stay with the family, Hamza spent a lot of time with her teenage daughters but they did not suspect he was not a girl, despite the fact that he always dressed and undressed in the bathroom.

"He never allowed people to touch him in a playful manner," says teenager Umma.

Alhaji Adamu, whom I met sitting in front of his house, told me that even though Hamza had not engaged in any indecent behaviour he still deserved to be punished "because he had broken Islamic laws".

Abubakar Hamza is currently in Kano Central Prison awaiting trial where he will answer charges under Section 9 of the Prostitution and Immoral Acts Law.

If he is found guilty he will get either one year in prison or be asked to pay a fine equivalent to $80.

Many in Kano are talking about this story and are eagerly awaiting for the trial due on 16 September - if only to get a glimpse of the famous young transvestite.





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