flagkenyai’m on a blog roll today, like i wrote before, on the tip of organising and not agonising… there are many possibilities of sharing resources.

canadafor example, even with me, being all the way on turtle island… there are alot of privileges I have in this first world, that I can subvert and focus on supporting grassroots activism in Kenya. I may not have money but that too shall come, en what’s more important is  I have my/self ( en comrades, friends and allies)

 

although, it is significantly telling that (I felt) I had to come back here to get the necessary resources to sustain my activism (read: money….

read:when you can’t pay rent or buy food or pay for matatu fare then it’s time for you to get more money anywhere you can).

My efforts at building solidarity here in Toronto and getting allies to support the queer/trans movement in East Afrika have been an exercise in critical analysis.

I’m glad that I came back, I don’t feel guilty anymore about staying on (the reality is that if I had stayed I would have had to compromise some of my radical politics and strategies that I’m not ready to give up jus yet, so I’ve compromised by going where I can try to walk the talk, where I can revise strategies and still be able to survive) en this time I know I’ll get more out of this shitty in 6 months than I did in 6 years….

don’t read me wrong, I ain’t knocking Toronto, (too much)… I love this place.

 I think it could be the most (theoretically en structurally) diverse city in the world.

a lil world on it’s own, without the harshness of New York…

but that’s exactly part of what got me bugging, this time around…..

folks can tend to live in a bubble here (i think it’s symptomatic of the schizophrenia induced in urban city/developed world dwellings)…..

I tried to settle into the bubble, travelled the contours, en embraced some of the illusions, but there was always a nagging feeling…..

 

6 years is not that long, it’s not even one quarter of my life. but it’s enough time. En in many ways I did come into myself in Toronto, and had distinctly more “privileges” in carving out space for myself en my dreams.

I learnt how to re/build community, I came into political consciousness, and widened my horizons, so to speak.

When I started going to UofT, in fall 2002, I was enrolled in commerce, switched to communication, cultures and information technologies (CCIT) & philosophy, flirted with women&gender studies and eventually found my way to sexual diversity studies……now if I could get into african studies I would…but….but this post is about nairobi and kenya, not school in toronto and canada…..

coz that’s where I had to revise most of my strategies, en I’m not going to forget the struggle(s)…..because, for me, it’s leading back to and for the continent. that’s my base.

so allow me to share some more correspondences on list servs I’m on, in the spirit of growing, with liberatory focus, together….

technically I’m not outing anyone, (my position on that has changed, as much as I think that every queer & trans person should just come out of that NEW closet, as long as it’s safe to do so……I wouldn’t out anyone, other than hypocrites en murderers.)

but to maintain some “copy/right”….

let’s call these excerpts, chosen fictions, characters in a narrative, (refer to Q is…..), either way these are people you should know about, like audrey (the warrior) en the organisation she founded in December 2008.

 

the subject on the listserv was the launch of gay & lesbian african safaris

(for me this launch is a  frightful harbinger of the state of queer/trans rights in Kenya, there only if you have enough money to buy them. As adamant as I am about access to resources, I don’t think capitalist solutions are the answer if we’re resisting more than homophobia, transphobia, sexism and heterosexism. and this queer revolushunary is devoted to resisting all forms of imperialism.)

 
GAY 2AFRIKA, INC., Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Kenya Airways join forces to
launch a 16-day Memorial Day 2010 Safari to Kenya and Tanzania "exclusively"
for the Gay and Lesbian Community
flagamerikka 
NEW YORK, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- GAY 2AFRIKA, INC., Virgin Atlantic Airways,
and Kenya Airways have launched a fully escorted 16-day safari to Kenya and
Tanzania for Gay and Lesbian singles, couples, and families, departing from
the United States on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

COME SEE THE PARADISE visits Nairobi, the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Lake
Nakuru National Park, Amboseli National Park, Lake Manyara National Park,
Serengeti National Park, Olduvai Gorge, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire
National Park. 

Scheduled round-trip air services with Virgin Atlantic Airways and Kenya
Airways routed New York City (JFK) / London / Nairobi / London / New York City
(JFK) are included in the unbeatable price of $4,699 p/p + tax of $295. At no
additional price, passengers can join COME SEE THE PARADISE from Newark,
Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.

All transfers and accommodation, 36 meals and 17 safari game viewing drives
are included and COME SEE THE PARADISE will be accompanied by a GAY 2AFRIKA
Tour Manager from New York City.

Apart from no add-on fares from Virgin Atlantic Airways gateway cities in the
U.S., there is no single supplement applicable, making COME SEE THE PARADISE
an attractive safari for Gay & Lesbian singles who prefer the privacy of their
own accommodation.

Fully escorted from New York City, GAY 2AFRIKA permits passengers to depart
ahead of time if they wish and break their journey in London for an additional
charge of only $95 p/p per stop. In addition, passengers should consider
extending their safari and visiting nearby Zanzibar for a short "beach-break"
before returning back to the United States. 

"Finally, a fully escorted safari to Kenya and Tanzania for the Gay & Lesbian
community," said the company's Founder and President, Kenneth R. Hieber. "At
this unbeatable price, I would hope that Gay and Lesbian singles and couples
take full advantage of realizing their African Dream with like-minded people.
Since space is limited, I encourage passengers to sign-up as quickly as
possible," Hieber stated. It is Hieber's hope that Gay and Lesbian families
take full advantage of this exciting offer. "I can think of no more exciting
safari than one made up of Gay and Lesbian singles, couples and families," he
concluded at today's press conference in New York.
amerikkka_invades

About GAY 2AFRIKA, INC.

GAY 2AFRIKA, INC. is the only African-gay-owned and operated Safari Specialist
Company in the United States. The company's portfolio has been meeting the
discerning taste of the LGBT Community for 14 years and is fully conversant in
the likes and dislikes of the Gay and Lesbian traveler. That combined with
Founder and President Kenneth R. Hieber's African nativity makes for a
flawless African Experience. GAY 2AFRIKA is the pioneer of LGBT travel to
Africa and has been "out" there for 14 years.
    FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

    Kenneth R. Hieber
    Tel: (212) 385-9770
    Email: kenneth@gay2afrika.com

SOURCE  GAY2AFRIKA, INC.
what's interesting to analyse is some of the responses to this, which is the subject of this post,
where art thou? and what are your politics?
 
EXHIBIT A
Well, the local queer community should also capitalize on this opportunity then and organize a party at the same time,
and look at other ways to connect with and benefit from this trip.

> Thanks for sharing,

> Zawadi

 

[i digress......herstorical note on LGBTTIQQ  activism in East Afrika...
flaguganda
flagtanzania
 

there are several circulating stereotypes among queer/trans activists and org's in East Afrika about

the state of organising in the different countries.
Kenya is party central.
Uganda is the bread basket. 

Tanzanians only have 2 activists that can speak english well.....
a mine field for reflection.

 

what I can tell you is that there were many parties I went to in Kenya,
there was at least one every month,

adn when I first staretd volunteering at the centre,
there were spots I could go to in town almost every day,
that queer/trans folks frequented.

my experience in the night culture though left me disillusioned even faster than my initial foray into the
 queer/trans community in TDot.

then, at first, all i heard about was church street, so that's where I went,thi time last year, I was missing even church street.

even though church street was the brutal site of my
 discovery that jus coz you both queer doesn't mean you share much else in common,
it still holds for the promise of family,
that is what I went there for,
(though if I am to be really honest,.I was relaly just looking for sex and some friendly dykes,
not much more....
but that's another story....the point of which is to make the bigger point that I, for one, 

in full advocacy for creating more positive and safe spaces for LGBTTIQQ communities,
don't think that parties should be our priority.
neither are many of the conferences that queer/trans activists on the conference have been to.
ofcourse that's just my opinion, the reality is that , even I, who'd stopped 'going out' so much,
hungered for those spaces where I could hang out en socialise with queer/trans bredren,
I recognise and acknolwedge the political imperaitive andnature of organising parties for queer/trans folk in East
Africa.
and even I, for my insistence on working our unity first, had to acknowledge the meagerness of our resources.
many of us are po people,
most of the key activists have middle class privilege,
but I diress, yet again (consider it a literary ploy)
the bigger point is what re/building community looks like. and where i'd like to meet people.
when i was younger, I liked clubs, I loved the thrill of the chase, loved casual sex with juicy pussies.
i loved the thrill, and the closeness.
i love the rainbow identities.
I would jus prefer to meet all those people at the centre, at film screenings and readings,
at football matches en Afrikan Liberation day events,
basically, at many other places than the "night club" or the "resort".
i'd much rather have a potluck at my place, commune en reason with sistren,
en share ideas in a political think thank,
other than wax celebratory
in response to what big business and HR organisations are doing in the realm of
economic and constitutional matters.
coz I don't think they care about us, they may say they do, their actions might benefit us,
but I/we always gotta question, to what end?
there's so much (more) that needs to be done on the ground,
ask any queer/trans activist in East Afrika and they'll give you a long list of areas and programs
they need support in......in advocacy, education, employment, health care, service delivery
I don't think we can afford to be co-opted or distracted,
because tell me, who's going to do the dirty work?
pouline kimani ccould easiy have been a fanny ann eddy.
audrey mbugua is Venus, (in Paris in Burning)
brilliant women, all a dem...
half of the group mentioned is dead, and the other half have a few lives left yet.
but they're both struggling and r5ising above their limitations.
the cancerous sores of society's wilful ignorance.
these are some of the survivors.
there are many more.
 

 I don't think we should be celebrating all that much about this memorial day launch "safari"
 we should definitely see how we can use it to our advantage,
but we should be critical of who we want our partners to be.

and we should always ask, in the words of one of the MWA steering committee members,
"how is this going to help us?"
 
how many of us will really be able to afford to go?
is our movement being co-opted by capitalism and western imperialism?
can virgin atlantic donate some tickets for activists?

there's an  LGBTI philanthropy conference happening from Nov6-8 in Toronto,
could they sponsor some kenyan activists to attend?
should someone to take the lead on writing a proposal to GAY2AFRIKA,
to help implement an exchange program for queer/trans youth?

that way they could add a social responsibility component to their business?
should we create an action framework for building anti-oppressive, creative and productive networks of support?

many many questions.]
en here's another response to the GAY2AFRICA launch

 

 

EXHIBIT B

 

Wonderful. God sent.
But, I wonder why people talk of LGBTI then leave out trannies and intersex people.

 [braap!!![(my emphasis)]
For example: "Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Kenya Airways have launched a

fully escorted 16-day safari to Kenya and Tanzania for Gay and Lesbian

singles, couples, and families, departing from the United States on

Tuesday, May 18, 2010." 

 

The music then turns to LGBT: "GAY 2AFRIKA is the

pioneer of LGBT travel to Africa and has been "out" there for 14 years."

 

I kindly urge LGBTI identifying individuals not to use this services till

they include the T and I.
Burn their aircrafts if you can. 
They hate us all

and they are pretending to like L and G and they just want to rip you clean.

They want to finish us.

 

If we don't do the right thing we will end up having minorities within

minorities. We need your help L, B and G.

 

We are one.

Audrey.
[i digress.herstorical note on audrey mbugua.
audreymbugua
i love this wo/man. she's a warrior. one of my s/heroes.
I love her coz she's committed to the struggle for queer/trans rights and speaks it as she sees it.
i love her coz I'm comfortable with her. she'll tell me what she feels.
she's difficult and mad intelligent.
i love cause i hear where she's coming from. 

coz I know that anger that she holds,
when s/he's one of the few, out there, publicly and privately battling for trans rights....
i love her coz s/he's a powerful woman.
and I tend to surround myself with powerful people, truth seekers, all the betta to learn from en grow with.
i love her coz as she says we are one. (inter/connected).
gayafrika.z.me.audrey. this list serv we're on.
en yet we are all different.
the challenge lies in achieving harmony.
but i digress, this section is particularly about audrey.
she is an example of the sorta person I want to cultivate a working relationship with.
she doesn't jus talk about getting involved. she's doing the dirty/necessary work.
because we have alot of organising to do and we need to organise (more) en agonise (less).
and there will be many times where it seems like we're doing it alone,
but we never are.
who gives a fuck what someone else think?
is that entitlement. yes.
it's easy to share those words on blog. behind a screen.
in another place, not here.
but then again, it ain't so easy.
I could make another choice.
I could choose to write about something else.
I have a wealth of indigenous herbs to explore for healing.
there is the matter of reclimaing indigneous afrikan knowledge and socio-political systems.
there is the revolushun,
en revolushunary living.
my life hasn't been easy and my choices aren't frivolous,
I have doubted my work before but I know that this work will continue to generate discomfort in many areas.
like with all the times that durey visisted doctors in hospitals,
endured intrusive tests, and ignorant, obnocious trans phobic questions,
all in the name of science.
en she went on,
I can tell this story, becase Audrey is willing and ready to share it
It is important to repeat that beacuse there are not many who are able to, or actually do, exercise that privilege,
of publicly advocating for queer/trans rights.
  my chosen occuption has come from several years now of being involved in working within and for queer/trans communities.
because if we don't then who will?
cleary the church is interested in us.
the state is invested in controlling and patrolling marked individuals.
and the people, well we're all busy living en surviving, right?
yes, and we are also resiting.
I yam onna dem,en there are many more of us.
like audrey.
she's fierce and loud and won't take complacency and compromise as an answer.]
 
en on that note, you should google her, read one of her articles, get in touch,
DO SOMETHING!
(en then some more.....watch for the continuation of this piece soon.
pt.II will be about the AUDREY  documentary project.
and a revision of the original treatment.
email me for more details on how to get involved and donate to T.E.A  and GALCK
 
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