i remember this poem we were taught to sing, or that I prolly jus heard around me,

when I was of an indeterminate age, much younger…

 

I will never go to Moscow anymore, more ,more,

there’s a big fat policeman by the door, door, door,

he will catch you by the collar, he’ll lala lala lala

……(back to), I will never go to Moscow anymore, more, MORE!

(!)

at some point it was the most lyrical and infectious ditty I knew,

but back then it always struck deep,

because those are my mother’s people. I actually have been to Moscow, and I would go back there, but I’d never stay too long. If I had to choose I’d live in st.petersburg. or my grandmama en papa’s town…..who cares? I’m not planning on settling there is the point.

this post was meant to be about thanksgiving. And I had intended to share a piece (15 page essay) on my list of people to give thanks for. because its important to recognise and acknowledge who sustains us……it’s necessary to know what consitutes the village and the community. but then I got distracted, because as seems to be my lot in life these past years, there was DRAMA! (hi! I am a drama QUEEN). And I have got to take time to think about my words, I mean really think about them….because what happens when you don’t achieve what you set out to? when you’re stuck between another place and silence?

but if I am to go back to my very beginning,  and stick to the spirit of this post. then I will have to tell you what I’d wanted to write about, and why I’m telling you this instead. (read between the lines)

First, I would have to give thanks for my mama, the rock in my life, the one who sustains me the most. the one who’s known me the longest. the one person I KNOW would sacrifice her life. I knwo because she has, from the day I was born. i used to think she was superwoman. and then I grew up and saw just an (extra) ordinary woman with big love.

[and i give thanks for (wa akina) mama (wa) Afrika]

en I give thanks for babushka en dedushka. en yura. en lova. lena. en roma. my family. the people I know the most about in Russia. there are not many more that I know at all actually. for you see, as much as I was born in U.S.S.R., that is not my (true true) home, en I wouldn’t live there for the reaons that I have hundreds of other places to choose from first, in Afrika, locations I would rather be than all the way in Europe.

i give thanks for foot soldiers and ghetto intellectuals. for freedom fighters and anti-imperalists. i give thanks for our farmers. en healers.

this is just a prelude to my version of a retraction. a prelude to a future post. en a renewal of commitment to my plans. I had meant to give thanks and I will.

However, a disclaimer here: my drama last night, en thru to the morning, has compelled me to tweak the original post. I will not give you the names of (most of) the people I give thanks for. the names that I do reveal are people who have put themselves OUT  already. these are some of the people you should know about.

This is for safety purposes. because (apparently) what I write is dangerous. and it could KILL! but that is not the intention. these words are my own. they are not bullets. they are not the hand that batters. that criminal has to talk /take responsibility for his, her or hir own actions.

If some bigot or homophobe decides that they would rather hurt the people they’re reading about after reading the posts on this blog, that is unfortunate, but that is also the point of this blog, to show the violence that is part of our reality. fight back with y/our words, tell me why you disagree, criticise, bring kudos, question my precepts, my chosen preoccupation, do what you will with the stories….

just don’t hurt me. and don’t use this information to hurt anyone else, not my friends en stay away from family if you mean harm. that is not the intention or purpose of this blog.  this blog is about LOVE.  and i’m a lover, who’ll fight for what is necessary, nothing more.

I had meant to do a series of portraits over the week, in a build up to the roundtable discussion we’re having at  WHIWH on Thursday, on building solidarity within queer/trans Afrikan communities.  This is what I had set out to do when I got back to Toronto, it is what I am doing right now, and what I’m organsining for the next 3 months. Raising awareness on the state of the (nascent) LGBTTIQQ movement in East Afrika, getting the resources we need to do the work that we feel (and think) is necessary. We are utilising different strategies, and this blog is one of my own. but it is nothing new. many people are doing it. isn’t it after all what word press is about? sharing what you wanna? well I’m sharing these stories because as I look, even on the Internet, there are not many places I can go to fiund out more about queer/trans afrikans, from OUR  persepctives…

this is not all my life is about, I deliberately choose to write about this particular issues because we need more people knowing and talking about them. and I don’t believe that we are going to get what we’re fighting for through complacency and silence.

that said, I stand firm by the principle that everyone has a right not to be OUT. safety is a pulsing and urgent concern for all queer/trans folks in Afrika. yes, in as much, there seems to be more safety and liberal-ness in the middle and bourgeoise classes, as much as there’s a different kind of safety for crackers and ‘foreigners’, as much as we manage to have some spaces…those locations are wropught with the instability of nothing explicitly constructed for our defense.

many have been killed. many have been fired from their jobs. many stay silent for fear of losing their privileges and status. for their well being. for peace of mind. many have fled. many have given up and committed suicide…too too many….but we still gotta do something.

 We face alot of challenges and there are restrictive contradictions that are particular to this kind of organising in East Afrika. Technically, according to public discourse, we are not supposed to exist. we are a novelty, western item. an aberration or a perversion. the reality is that, as queer, trans & intersex folks we are minorities in our own land, by virtue of our gender identity and/or sexual orientation

And the reality is that there has always been, and there will continue to be (growing) resistance to all forms of oppression. challenging homo/les/bi/trans phobia is not only inevitable but it is required if we are to create and maintain safe, sustainable, positivfe space for oursleves.

The reality is also that there are many of us. I don’t consider myself a minority. I yam (u) people. And, i said it before, I’ll say it again, as much as I think everyone needs to make an effort and sacrifices to achieving our rights, I dont’ ask ask anyone for more than what I’m willing to do myself. I understand the privileges that allow me to choose to be involved in queer/trans activism. and I’ve been facing the consequences for many years. I ran away before, and I ran away again for my safety, and I’ll do it whenever I feel it is necessary.

Because, the truth is, I am a coward, I am also really jus like a lil mouse masquerading as a lioness. my roar belies the fear that I will be eaten, ignored, maligned or worse yet killed just for being who I yam. and I really yam a lioness. i will defend and fight for my bredrin and sistren. (the intent is not to eat my own). I’m also fucking tired and angry at having to keep secrets. secrets that I don’t want to. what happens when you’re pushed into that closet? when you keep pushing that door, and play en reason with everyone else who’s superceded some limitations….what happens when you keep taking that next step…….and when that next step always necessitates taking a few steps back.  I can think of symbolisms that could capture the dynamics of the movements sometimes than just that.

it seems like every effort and achievement comes with dubious consequences. i may know what I want teh future to look like, in other words, but I don’t know what it is.

It’s a shame that you’d do what you did to Eudy and Fanny Ann Eddy. to the ‘unnamed’ lesbian in Siaya. to blessol. to po. to alix. to audrey.these are all stories that can tell you more about the unwanted projections of ignorance and hate that we have. but they’re not mine to tell. does that mean i shouldn’t tell them?

so, finally, the point and premise of this blog is strategic. it is all political. it is rooted in the personal.

if you’ve been paying attention. I have been using the I alot.

That was/is/and will continue to be a literary mechanism.

I will stand up and be counted. Because I know that I can tell you about the need to legislate protection on the grounds of sexual orientation & gender identity in hate crimes. that we need to enlist SRS in hospitals. that we need health centres (because unlike that fradulent article in the standard claims, there is no GAY  health centre in Kenya), we need service delivery in many areas. i can tell you about the need to gather statistics on the violence against LGBTTIQQ people…I could tell you what you might already know, might agree with and would prolly gloss over, adn then what? all I know is, I’m doing what I can, and there are many who don’t pay attention.

And it speaks volumes that the posts that get most attention on this blog are those that mention sex. are we really that shallow/deep? is that what it takes to really get you reading and engaging with the issues? to get you to talk to me? because I’ll let you know, sex is one of my favourite subjects too. I wish I was having it,, but even that will come. IN the meantime, I write about it, and I’llexperiment with many ploys to recruit people.

that’s right, let’s call this blog a recruiting post. I am out to get more people involved in what I am doing. because we need more foot soldiers for this cause. and this is not a distraction, from more perninent issues. this IS  the struggle for Afrikan liberation. and we should know why. this is about the liberation of all peoples (implicitly). i’ve said it before, I’ll keep saying it.

this is an experiment in resistance. indigenous afrikan creativity.

this is an intentional contradiction in terms.

this is whateva you want it to be.

let’s call this chosen drama. (refer to the Q werd)

for political purposes. let’s imagine that none of this is real.

this is jus a staging of the Q werd.

and that this is all real.

this is a prelude to the documentary to be shot next year in East Afrika.

[notes of a fierce/quirky black wo/man]

 

after all,

i yam just a storyteller.

and everyone has their own story,

what’s yours?

 

my name is molisa nyakale,

(my name means love & life)

this is my story, en I’m sticking with it.

 

The reality though is that queer and trans communities in Toronto don’t know much about what’s going on in East Afrika, or anywhere else on the continent other than in South Africa.  queer & trans folks & all Afrika do inevitabely have a vested interest in the liberation of all queer/trans afrikan people. It’s just there are always the demands of sustaining oneself in the here and now of North Amerika. and all our conflicting ideologies and politics.

everyone’s got to do their thing. and because this it my ‘ting’, I’m doing how I can, using what I got

Most of the key queer/trans activists I know from home are well travelled. their work and sacrifices are acknowledged. they face backlash and interconnected consequences though for putting their lives on the line. and everyone who takes action continues to grow tremendously. But it’s not easy, and whatever privileges sustain the activism of Afrikans explicitly working on queer/trans rights, it speaks volumes to the dedication, passion, and strength of these individuals. But we need more help, we need to take up more space, we need to get these discriminatory laws removed.

And here I have to digress, because I just found out some more good news that illsutrates the message of this story, giving thanx. audrey mbugua said “…… There has been major changes. For example on 4th of November, we will have a meeting with the Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Person to draw a road map for the creation of a policy that will allow trans and intersex people to change their names and sex in their ID cards and other identification papers.
 
And yes, its really tiresome and at times I loose hope but then I look back and suddenly I have this realization that things could have been worse.”

that gives me hope. we will get what we want and yes! things could have been much worse. ase.

so here’s an explanation, as way of re-introduction, for this space.

this blog is deliberately placed. the words are carefully and impulsively chosen.

it is an afrikan liberatory space. it is a queer/trans positive space. 

that’s right, technically I have no control over who reads it,  but that is also the point (in the contradictions inehrent in sharing our stories), for everyone to have an opportunity to educate themselves, en don’t say they didn’t know.

 the principal purpose of this blog is to create and maintain this safe space.

after all, it is my blog. this is my life sitting across the computer….pasting en typing the words. this is my hobby.

and this is what home is. I do take on the people and systems I;’m fighting in this blog, but I’m nore invested in nurturing the love I have. i write about who inspires me, and my teachers, i write about my love/rs, write about my comrades. i write about me. do you get it. this blog has been created as an individual entity, an exercise in re/locating subjectivity. and in my opinion, there is nothing more powerful than your own experiences. that si what you need to use to related to everyone else. recognising that I, am indivisible from this worl, I am inter/connected.

if you’re interested in staying, please do! I have no control over that anyway. and i’m lookinf for friends, allies en comrades in the struggles.

but it is necessary to explain my intentions with you dear reader, and this blog.

I am basically putting my work and my personal on my blog. i’m looking for answers. i’m looking for help with projects. for growth. for re/building family. i’m doing what I can, when, and where I can to support the queer/trans movement in East Afrika.

and what can I say? maybe I’m just too selfish and weak, but being a queer/trans activist in East Afrika is butt fucking hard. so while we’re on the roll of giving thanks, I’m going to give thanks for the pride committee of toronto, it’s not my intuitive choice, but I’m choosing them strategically, because I know that I can talk about them, they might issue a response to whatever I write about them, but they won’t lash out at at me for talking about them, it’s their job….all publicity is good publicity. their existence is fully acknowledge and justified….I give thanks for them doing the only thing I can personally and concretetely point to liking…the nomination of Victor Mukasa as INternational Grand Marshall. that was a good choice. the brotha deserves all the recognition he can get. he is one of my heroes. one of the people i give thanks for. and he is one of the people I will still be able to publish in the series. It’s o.k. for me to mention his name because he’s OUT  already, and I have freedom of speech.

 but we generally don’t…which is what this blog is about…..telling queer/trans stories from a queer/trans perspective. talking back! because that piece of homophobic tripe masquerading as a bad college essay on the standard on Friday is not how I want to see us as represented.

 but ofcourse there’s the safety issue. there’s security prevention matters.  I could see my privilege more clearly when I experienced discomfort with hearing that term. it was not really part of my vocabulary in toronto. first world privilege all the way. you get to “be radical”, en do street interventions, bike through many protests, run through the public park system at night, study queer theory, and bemoan the fate of the scene with only like 18 things going on…..

toronto indulged my impulsiveness……i could be BE  a queer activist. my friends got cozy for me in short experimental docs and porn I shot. we experiemented with concretising resistance. building the alternatives. my the time I was leaving to go back home…..I had concocted a practically (en virtual) QUEER & TRANS  life…

and I’ve got to say I liked it, I just want to have all this here, back at home. and it’s why I came here, it’s what I’m workign towards, designing, preparing, networking,,,and that’s the dream, the wish, and the plan. and i’ll now the be the first to say, that I’m in over my head….

the state of tings in kenya is too much for me to handle, but stubborn and unrealistic as I can get, I did allow myself to admit it when I came back to Toronto. I was weary. Because as argumentative en dramatic as I am, I actually would rather not fight, it takes away my energy. I want to teach, write, en shoot documentaries. I want to do what I can, because it is necssary. And there’s not that many of us doing that work. everyone has to make sacrifices. and this is what I’m offering, my life.

you can’t deny my right to be.


no person is your friend, who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.

 alice walker

 

Migrants to Russia face discrimination – 12 Oct 09

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