blogger’s note: I know (many) stories of super/s/heroes that are changing tings on the ground in their communities….

The Q werd is starting with the ones that we’re familiar with, because if we don’t cherish en honour our own, then who will (do it better)?

Until we listen to the lionesses, the tales of hunting will be weak,

These are some of the (many) stars of the Q werd. The people are real. Na hadithi ni kweli pia….leo ni ya Millicent Gaika, Anelisa Mfo na Ndumie Funda of LulekiSizwe LBT

check out http://www.lulekisizwe.com 

 

A lesbian was allegedly beaten and raped repeatedly for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.

With both eyes swollen and bruised, stitches above her left eye and open wounds on her neck, Millicent Gaika, 30, of Gugulethu, haltingly told how a man she had known for years attacked and raped her repeatedly on Friday night. Her voice was husky from screaming.

Gaika alleged her attacker “acted like an animal who wanted to kill”.

He has been arrested and will appear in the Philippi Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

On Friday just after 10pm Gaika and her friends were walking home after spending the evening at a friend’s house in NY1. As they approached their home, a man, one of many tenants on the site, apparently asked Gaika for a cigarette.

She stayed to smoke with him while her friends walked on. A few minutes later, the man refused to pass the cigarette to Gaika and walked into his room.

When she followed him he allegedly locked the door. “He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.

“I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.'”

Gaika said the man had never openly objected to her sexuality before. “He was very nice to me – I’d known him for years. I hate him now. I am just angry. I was swearing at him while he was doing this to me. I just wished I could die. I hate what he has done, he makes me sick.”

About 4am, after five hours of Gaika being raped, a neighbour knocked on the man’s door and demanded to know who was in the room with him.

A friend of Gaika’s who asked not to be named said: “The neighbour heard something and he insisted that the man open the door. Then he broke the window and the two men started fighting. Other neighbours came and eventually broke down the door and saw what was happening. The rapist wanted to run away, but we kept him there until the police came. Millicent was on the bed. She was only wearing her sweater and it was full of blood.”

The attack was not the first one. After she was raped by four men in 2002, Gaika told herself that it would never happen again and got her life back on track.

 Gaika said the four men had been convicted and were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years. “But after a few years, they got out and that was too little time… I saw them walking around here in Gugulethu again. I was angry but I got through it and I wasn’t scared. But this time it was worse, much worse. Now I am scared, I don’t trust men. I don’t know if I am ever going to be okay after this because I thought I was going to die.”

Ndumi Funda, the founder and director of Lulekisiswe Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women’s Project in Nyanga, was at Gaika’s house (yesterday) and said she was “deeply hurt and traumatised” by the news.

“This needs to be stopped. We know of so many that this happens to and nothing is done about it. How many more young lesbian women must die?”

The project was formed more than two years ago and has various awareness programmes. It also has a centre to help women like Gaika.

It was started after Funda’s fiancee and other lesbians they knew died of Aids-related illnesses; they had contracted HIV in homophobic attacks.

Last month, Weekend Argus reported that the rape and murder of gays and lesbians had taken on “crisis proportions” and was not restricted to townships.

According to a report by international group ActionAid, there were reports of 10 new cases of lesbians being raped every week in Cape Town alone.

Gugulethu police spokesman Captain Elliot Sinyangana confirmed the incident and said a 40-year-old man had been arrested.

He will remain in custody until his court appearance.

Written by melanie Nathan in San Francisco

http://lezgetreal.com/?p=31434

 

blogger’s note: corrective rape, out here in the West, is usually associated with South Africa, and conjures talk on the discrimination & fear that African lesbians face in their lives, couched in human rights frameworks en (not-so) critical analysis …..there are very few I’ve talked with who’ve  associated the term with say, Pride Toronto, but I think what they’re doing to queers of Afrikan descent is, depending on one’s subjective perspective ofcourse, is worse.

bredrin (one of the warriors who’s featured in the Q werd) posted on facebook recently….. Pride Toronto doesn’t give a fuck about black people. And I say, amen! to that. 

See when (the devil in) the man was ‘allegedly’ assaulting Millicent Gaika, he ripped her apart like he said he wanted to, he told her exactly what he thought, that he wanted to turn her into a woman, that she was a slut, he fucking RAPED her, en it’s ‘signified’ as corrective. At least we know him for the devil that he is….and we can agree, without a doubt, that shit ain’t kosher.

Now Pride Toronto, that’s a much more sinister story, a case of  devils we know masque(e)rading as leaders of the community, hardly even bothering with camouflage, a corporate-ized story of class divides and white supremacist ideologies  that are couched in token nominations [read: as necessary as Victor Mukasa’s nomination last year was its rendered superfluous by all the ways that the Committee HASN’T  come through for the queer/trans Afrikan communities in Tdot…….like, look at the ongoing dispute over Blockorama, and we’ll definitely be talking back about  OUR experiences at Pride last year]

The truth is, most of the organising for queer/trans rights in Afrika is being done by people of Afrikan descent, and there are still many gaps to be filled, and conscious allies to be recruited.

For many in the movement on the continent, the issues are simpler and  more direct, than the fragmented post-modern queer theorising dykes en fags who will systematically get paid way more (en creatively) to sustain their professional queer-ism.

For many of us on the continent,  it’s a matter of being able to survive while doing this work, as in concretely (as necessary as it is for more afrikans to take up space in discourse on gender & sexuality), no lengthy dissertations on the wear en tear on the soul or preferred acronyms in our rainbow soup of identities.  We need food to eat, money to travel from Point A to C (en back again), safe spaces, allies who are willing to do hard work themselves, we need to be decriminalised and protected by the State, and our issues need to be framed in our own words.  And as necessary as all the talk is, to make it plain, we need more than empathy, encouragement, tolerance or worse yet, charity & sympathy.

And we are not JUST advocating for queer/trans rights, many (more) of us are struggling for the liberation of ALL Afrikan peoples, and it’s been critically analysed to heaven and back….we need to work on our OWN  unity first. Fafanua.

Drawing attention to oneself is an act of courage and one that cannot be emphasized enough, especially if the victim is one whose rape is termed   “corrective rape” where the odds are, that the victim could be re-victimized again and again.  Years ago, Lesbians would never have come forward to tell their stories, but now with the unrelenting support and loving assistance from an extraordinary human being, Ndumie Funda, a lesbian woman living in a South African Township, near Cape Town, women and lesbians are telling their stories, willing to be named, photographed and to stand up on our pages to say:- “This is what happened to me!”

In 2007, Anelisa Mfo then a 23 year old lesbian mother from Emkonto, an informal settlement in South Africa, was walking in along a street in Nyanga when she was attacked by a man who pointed a gun at her yelling “slut ,bitch” –while he brutally raped her with a gun to her head.  Anelisa is agreeable to her name being published and story being told. There are many heroes in this story…

Anelisa together with two friends courageously identified and pursued charges and the perpetrator was caught and sent to prison for ten years.  After her HIV test proved negative in a country where HIV/AIDS is epidemic, Anelisa felt much relief even though still suffering from the cruelty of the crime.   While Anelisa was dealing with this trauma she had no idea that her five year old daughter was also raped in the Eastern Cape, by her sister’s boyfriend.

At the time Anelisa had no shelter, no employment, no money, no job, was disowned by her family because of her sexuality and a child who suffered so unimaginably.

In September, 2008, on the anniversary of her attack, Anelisa tried to kill herself. She poured paraffin over her entire whole body and set herself alight.

When LulekiSizwe LBT, Womyns Project, which had recently formed to help lesbian victims of rape, heard about her story the small unfunded group ran to the hospital in JOOSTER, where Anelisa lay clinging to life in an ICU, with no friends and no family to help.

“Because we don’t have resources yet we went to Triangle Project , they help us with counseling for Anelisa and her daughter pay for transport for Ndumie and Anelisa to travel to hospital and food parcel,” Ndumie Funda, founding Director of LulekiSizwe, informed Lezgetreal.  “We then approached IAM for a shelter and they were also a good help. Now the tough part comes who can look after her? There was no one, but I have looked her since that day,” said Ndumie the director of LulekiSizwe LBT volunteered herself to look after Anelisa.    “Like a nurse doing everything for her, feeding, cooking, washing Anelisa and her laundry- not to forget the good team of us that we have at LulekiSizwe LBT every day to relieve me.”

We received donations from the straight community at the time and so we could hire a nurse who was also helping with the dressings.

“Now,” says Ndumie, “Through prayers and care, Anelisa has recovered from her burns and has her daughter with her. We are currently trying to get some funding to get Anelisa and her daughter a home.”

Anelisa is breathing through a pipe – she cannot use her nose anymore – this is the very sad story of ANELISA.

Donations for LulekeSizwe to –

c/o Melanie Nathan
nathan@privatecourts.com
Private Courts, Inc
P.O. Box  1108
Woodacre, CA 94973

to be continued……kesho, on resistance from the margins

Blogger’s note: hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji? Nilirudi nyumbani, coz home is where the heart is, en I was blessed to learn (more) from babas (of Afrika) that spoke (big) love en truth, like Amilcar Cabral, Baba Tajudeen, Cheikh Anta Diop, Dedan Kimathi, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Elijah Masinde, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, Ngugi wa Thiong’o,…there are many kings (in the Q werd)….this post is from one of them……..

a non-fictional short story by Onyango Oloo

http://demokrasia-kenya.blogspot.com/2010/04/yes-from-apathetic-facebook-20.html 

 Claire M is a beautiful, ebony complexioned, twenty-something petit-bourgeois British accented Kenyan employee of a certain tech firm who commutes daily between her middle class neighbourhood in Nairobi’s east end and her posh upscale office in the capital city’s west end.

She is also a very good friend of mine.

Vivacious should be her middle name, so effervescent is Claire’s good natured spirit.

We met purely by happenstance about two and a half fortnights ago.

There she was, slightly after ten in the pm, sitting next to me on the Number 33 matatu on a Furahiday, Embakasi bound.

A spontaneous conversation sprung up in a matter of minutes and within days we were certified Facebook friends who turned out to be residing within mere hectares and baby wails of each other.

A few days ago, I hooked up with her and one of her girl friends for an evening after work beer sip upstairs at the Verandah, across the street from the Stanley-the old Cameo cinema for old Nairobi hands.

In the course of our random chat, she casually mentioned that she had seen my status update on Facebook urging Kenyans to vote Yes come the Referendum on the proposed new constitution.

“I am NOT voting and YOU can’t make ME!” she declared with an air of finality which startled me, being totally unexpected.

I didn’t even know she had seen my earnest online constitutional exhortation in the first place.

“Remember the last time in 2007, I woke up very early in the morning and voted for Raila and look what happened! We Kenyans started killing each other! Over WHAT? I am NOT voting for ANYONE! And you can’t FORCE me!”

Yawa Maembe”, I tried to butt in, gently pointing out that this time around Kenyans were not voting for anyone, just for the long sought after constitution, twenty years in the making and stained with our blood, sweat and tears.

“Well, the only person I will be voting for is the Man Upstairs. And in case you didn’t know, the world is COMING TO AN END. All the signs are there.

Have you looked at

Jay-Z’s latest CD?

Or wondered why Beyoncé Giselle Knowles calls herself

Sasha Fierce these days?

How about that thing with Kanye West and Taylor Swift?

or Rihanna’s new outfit?

There you go.”

Let me hasten to add that Claire M is perfectly SANE and quite intelligent, in case you were wondering.

At this point she reached deep deep into one of those humungous mobile ward robes that women call handbags these days

and fished out a slim volume with a silky, smooth, soft, shiny glossy black cover featuring a smiling handsome African man on the cover.

The booklet was captioned He is Coming.

I think the author was referring to the world famous dreadlocked Holy Nazarene nicknamed JC, but the image was more reminiscent of one of those Nollywood hunks that litter our television screens and have taken over our DVDs these days.

“You see this?” she said, thumping mercilessly on the poor innocent book.

“It is all in HERE. Tell him Sheila!” she said, turning to her bemused best friend who had been staring, wide mouthed, as this delirious conversation unfolded amid quaffs of this or that variety of Kenyan malt product among the trio of us.

“I am not particularly religious”, I offered, meekly.

“The last time I stepped into an actual Church to formally worship was waaay back in May or June 1982”, I explained, shocking Claire M, who was not even conceived back then when

Shalamar,Ray Parker Jr, Odyssey, The Whispers, Kool and the Gang, Lakeside,

and the Gibson Brothers ruled the world’s disco floors with their curly kits, afros, box tops, bomber jackets and tight jeans-the future Retro/Old Skool gear and wear of decades to come.

Earth, Wind and Fire

“You mean you DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD???!!!”

Reluctant to start another raging, never ending Kenyan sectarian edition of the Crusades right there at the Verandah-a veritable den of iniquity if I ever saw one- I carefully skirted the religious inquisition, side-stepping a possible urban, nocturnal lynching at the hands of an irate, determined and capable potential Kenyan female executioner by reverting back to the need for a Yes vote among all Kenyans with a functioning brain.

“Well, like I said, WE are NOT voting, are WE, Sheila?” Claire M hissed defiantly, turning to her hapless bosom buddy for solidarity and assurance.

“And you can write that on that BLOG of yours! And tell the WORLD that Claire M said SO! It is NO for ME and THAT is THAT!”

“Are you SURE????!!”

I tried to verify, knowing how far around the world the Kenya Democracy Project blog travels these days.

This morning I got an update from my Neo website counter which informed me that the blog had reached 11,950 cities in 186 countries around this

Blue Marble.

“Yes! And I am waiting to read it!”

So Claire M, in sunny Nairobi, here you go.

You did insist and demand that I put your views on this blog of mine.

And I am sending you a link via my Facebook wall so you can read this on your mobile phone my Kenyan digital sister. I will also email you the URL so that you can carefully jot down the put downs and rebuttals for our next Verandah soiree.

My generation and this Twittered, Digged, RSS Word Pressed Facebooked Twenty First Century Viral Marketed Kenyan Generation of Claire, Sheila and Co. Ltd are Worlds Apart I tell you.

It is like Mercury and Uranus.

Back in the 1980s-Yes, when David Onyango Oloo was still a deceptively innocent looking, fresh faced, slim, twenty something student cum political prisoner and not this bloated twenty first century Kenyan Rip Van Freaking Winkle with sprinkles of salt on my head and chin- it was a badge of honour among the Kenyan youth to be political, to be conscious, to be democratic, to be patriotic, to be militant, to be vigilant, to be a voter.

These were the days of Daniel arap Moi and his side kicks like Okiki Amayo, Kariuki Chotara, Mulu Mutisya, Jackson Angaine, Ezekiel Bargentuny, Sharrif Nassir, Philip Leakey, Stanley Oloitiptip, Krishan Gautama and John Joseph Kamotho.

The days of one party rule.

The days of detention without trial.

The days of the one finger salute.

Not that finger you are thinking of.

The KANU one finger is what I am talking about.

The days of silence, the days of terror and the days of fear.

The days of Fuata Nyayo.

The days of KANU Tawala, Tawala.

The days of fake peace, counterfeit love and non-existent unity.

And also the days of defiant university student demonstrations and courageous lecturers’ symposia.

Not to forget fearless editorials.

The era of George Anyona and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The hey days of Willy Mutunga, Al-Amin Mazrui, Micere Mugo, James Orengo and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

The political coming age of the Njeri Kabeberis and Mwandawiro Mghangas.

Some university students declared in public kamkunjis that it was time for Kenya to be ruled by Marxist-Leninists.

Others were abducted off trains to be charged with sedition because they had dared to draft in their hand written chicken scrawl, earnest essays about the role of youth in fighting for democracy and justice in this country.

Still others were thrown down flights of stairs by angry secret police torturers for celebrating the attempted overthrow of the Moi dictatorship.

Back in those seemingly long forgotten days, Kenyan youth, Kenyan students, Kenyan post-independence patriots yearned passionately to kick the status quo’s hind quarters swiftly, repeatedly and viciously.

Back in those yesteryears, Kenyan students and youth spoke out loudly in protest when spooky sycophantic fascist neo-colonial comprador politicians led by our current septuagenarian head of state wanted to declare Kenya a de jure one party dictatorship.

And back then, there were no cell phones, leave alone the internet, forget email accounts, scratch Messenger, ICQ, online forums, chat rooms, Facebook or Twitter.

Back in that recent technological Stone Age, when you spoke of a telephone you was either referring to an old gloomy looking black contraption which had a PADLOCK firmly attached to it or a relative of the same intimidating device trapped in an outdoor cage, looking like a forlorn statue which required you to feed it with numerous coins if you wanted to talk to anyone for a few hurried minutes- at the top of your lungs, obliviously unaware that science and technology had already carefully considered your vocally needs to communicate clearly and therefore taken care of the volume and modulation functions in that teleinstrument.

But we were MORE networked and pumped up those days-politically speaking that is.

If there had been a proposed draft constitution waiting to be passed as the country’s supreme document, Kenya’s militant and patriotic youth would have already formed kilometre long queues, snaking around entire villages-urban and rural- to vote YES, YES, YES! months before the actual referendum!

What a contrast that generation of mine is to the apathetic, blasé, cynical, bored out of their skulls, hip hopping techno Kenyan chini kwa chini ohangla wiggling genge kapukaring smoked out dazed raggamuffins of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten who have more passion for Arsenal and Man U than for freedom or socialism; Kenyan youth who know more about the subliminal Satanic sub texts in Rihanna’s latest dress than which reproductive rights side to take on the raging debate about where life begins; Kenyan youth who can recite the last 98 minutes of the last episode of Lord Of The Rings or the 23rd Season of Sex in the City verbatim from their photographic memories while being totally clueless about the actual contents of the Bill of Rights in our new constitution; Kenyan youth who can tell you the exact alcohol percentage in a bottle of Kingfisher or Smirnoff Red, but totally blank out when you ask them about what percentage women of seats have been allocated in the projected Senate chamber.

Do I sound harsh, bitter, angry, judgmental?

You tell me.

Forgive me for this Cardinal Sin of having seen Better Scenes for Kenyan Youth in this very country, in this, my very own pays natal.

But frankly some of us, aging grey beards, the Kenyan youth of yesteryears, expect more, much, much more, from our younger siblings, cousins, nephews, nieces, and for some of us now delving into our fifth decade of existence, our own sons and daughters.

We expect them to reap the harvest of our blood stained youthful endeavours for a more democratic dispensation.

We expect them to be more emboldened about defending our social justice gains.

We expect them to be more conscious than us, their prehistoric predecessors.

And yes, Claire M, that is why I expect YOU to VOTE YES for the new constitution come the referendum.

And I am talking to you too, Sheila.

But first, you have to register as voters my two Kenyan sisters.

And you can do it electronically these days you know.

So Claire M, there you have it.

You did ask me to write this, didn’t you?

Onyango Oloo

Nairobi, Kenya

 blogger’s note: braap! and those are the confessions of an angry afrikan baba, I hear where he’s coming from, those are my peers he’s talking about, apathy seems to be/coming a hall mark of our generation, but if you know where to look, then you will find those youth fulfilling the mission of their times…

 The truth according to makmende is……

blogger’s note: this is a spoof of a spoof of very serious matters. It is definitely not to be taken as the gospel truth of afrikan liberation, then again what is the truth of our freedom?…..FUN.damentalism na hadithi that affirm OUR power….

the beauty about stories is that WE re/tell them, en we change/d them, en we can re/vision almost  any parts  we want.

 The crux is (in) manifest.ing the truth en re/build.ing with others, much easier said than practised.

Like, all jokes aside, I love where Makmende comes from ( and if at this point you’re still wondering who makmende is, then this post isn’t for you), I love that he’s one of our own, a uniquely urban Kenyan (Afrikan) meme, en a super hero by most accounts.

But, seriously, what would makmende really do to the ‘bad guys’? and just who are the ‘bad guys’? and if Hitler’s having a near makmende experience, then shouldn’t Bush, Raila, Kibaki, Pattni, Kiplagat, en many many ‘others’ jus go hang themselves with tissue paper?

Because we sho’ as hell working hard on exploiting en breaking so many more of US down in private en in public, much more it would seem than figuring out this whole damu ni mzito kuliko maji thing….a concept that’s rendered alien when we deny kin/dred…..

what’s funny, sad, en much deeper than we can imagine are the connecshuns we share through our relationship to Afrikan/ness…..in the end, just a band, for all your hating on the ‘queers’ among us, you’re jus as bad as my ‘girlfriend’, a new Afrikan, (Goddess knows I love, respekt en admire her but she also has this divisive notion that she was taught) like many others  who insist that what they REALLY  are is African AMERICAN……to each their own, but  the question remains, what to do bout our own ?

is it really just enough to rewrite the script of white supremacist ideologues  with hateful/misguided beliefs of another flavour?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, these are the responses of an angry  Afrikan woman……one who’s laughed at en being inspired by the makmende videos, but who is definitely NOT  satisfied with the caricatures drawn of me en my sistas………I am NOT  Abscondita, Britannia Zimeisha, or one of Godfrey’s Laydayz, so technically I really don’t have no place passing judgement on their representations, I would love to hear THEIR  stories…..and I am definitely not (bigger than) makmende, so I submit to the power of the people speaking through griots, messengers, teachers en  facebook & youtube ratings.

All I have is a request, dear just a band, hadithi? Hadithi? Kitendawili? Would you tell me another story?

Like the true true legends of…..

Coz I love where you’re going with this, I been on this path many times before, so I suspect where we’re liable to get lost in the forest of black  nationalism & neo colonialist regimes. Do you think we may be missing the mark on the heart of the matter? If it’s love for our cultures, then is it really manifest? Do we even have to go across the oceans en use foreign scripts for our own purposes, are we not rich enough with our own?

From one (urban) Afrikan to another, do you think that (all jokes aside) WE are the problem?

I know there are so many more stories that we have, we know that we’ve denied many of them, even our sheng, the very language you use to re/tell makmende’s story, is divided along class/tribe lines, we all  KNOW the markers, but are we really manifest.ing our true true powers? is the current version of makmende really the best we can do?

If there’s many more pieces that I’m missing to the story about makmende’s  return, then please tell me me those bits, boss,  coz you got me hooked, but there really is plenty of fish in the ocean, so I’m prepared to swim with dolphins, en even on the back of a whale, anywhere to get to paradise….en I would prefer ogun or shango’s story any day to your (version of) makmende

a warrior by any other name

As many props as I give to the kings (en queens?) of just a band, I am still that ‘angry’ Afrikan woman who is NOT satisfied with the ‘latest’ picture, en is willing to work with my bredrin en sistren to change it, all the betta for us to build solidarity with……..

by any means necessary

so dear just a band, do you think you could change the script, to start just remove the ‘ushoga’  is the cause of our downfall parts……it’s a strategically homophobic en sinister connection that you’re drawing between sexuality and  the destruction of the ‘oppressors’, one that divides even comrades en families.

I am not Makmende’s enemy, yet in your video you try to make me one, and in your pieces, the enemy was supposed to be white supremacist ideologies, or was that just a matter of false advertising? Askyua mutha black militants en black sahara are really a big big joke, na tena, ka wahenga, nauliza je, hii ni ungwana? Again, is makmende really jus a spoof? will the ‘real’ revolutionary please stand up?

you see, Makmende is real because (s)he comes from the people, en dear just a band, not one person or group can  have  a copyright on makmende….so, I may not be able to take all your jokes, I may be taking this whole makmende goes after hitler thing too personally, and  too seriously, I may need to chillax with the whole defending queer rights thing…..but if I don’t name my anger then who will? En if you don’t take it seriously then who will?

Why even waste our time repeating the oppressor’s lies? Kitendawili? Mavi ya kuku ni….? and it don’t matter how much honey you pile on IT en laughter that you produce from IT…..what’s not true is…..new, en ushoga is as old as mama afrika herself…so why not just focus on what we need to re/member (about the ways of our ancestors) to move forward, en share some of OUR true true stories……

like the kinda shit that you just don’t have to make up

Dear just a band, we have much more in common than many would assume…….the beauty of makmende, is like the purloined letter, it’s an open secret that only a ‘nairobian’ can truly appreciate, en that all Afrikans should be able to translate…. makmende IS  bigger than just a band, congratulations!  You have achieved what you wanted en worked for…revived a legend through the creative use of media………now what?

makmende oh

What will makmende do next?

So this essay, from one of the people involved in drafting the yogyakarta principles, is many moons old.

But it’s still significant…..I just read it a few days ago and I’m reposting for all your learning pleasure.

In my opinion, any body who believes they’re committed to the struggle for afrikan liberation, and by extension for (global) human rights, should critically examine our values and the experiences of all the oppressed.

It’s sad, but I’ve met too many supposed revolutionaries who’ll reason in solidarity with me on many things afrikan….but when it comes to HOMOSEXUALITY (gawdess, how I dislike that term!) then they’ll grip their BIBLE, and/or wax ‘traditional’ on principles that can’t be said to be indigenous or anywhere close to progressive (let alone revolutionary)…

In my (wanna-be) revolushunary opinion, I think the biggest achilles heel in public discourse on queer identity in Africa, and of most African homophobes, is their contradictory position….the most oft heard lines are…

it’s un-african & it’s unholy…

Now anyone who’s studied indigenous afrikan cultures and socio-political systems in depth wil tell you that our ancestors did formulate different conceptions of gender and sex/uality.

That is why about the only thing I’ll agree on with homophobes is that lesbian and homosexual are western terms….they absolutely are…not only that but modern terms constructed within and for particular contexts…

what we do have are identities like saganas, wandarwads, sangomas, jigele keton, m’uzonj’ame katumua, ’yan daudu, mudoko dak, sagoda, ashtime, mugawe, kiziri, agyale, eshenga, omututa, chibanda….and many more identities and institutionalized forms of wo/man to wo/man marriage all over Ifrika….one cannot reasonably call any of these identities lesbian or homosexual…maybe “lesbian-like” or “homosexual-like” as what they do share is a focus on same sex desire….and that is what homophobes in Africa like to purport isn’t really there….and if it is, it’s wrong and western….

I say hogwash to all that, if you think it doesn’t exist, then as little as I know, I can show you hundreds of identities to attest otherwise…..and thousands, probably millions, of Afrikans who’re living TODAY and being discriminated against and marginalised by our oppressive laws and leaders.

But what really gets my goat is when folks use the BIBLE….for real???!!!

I have very little patience left for Christian fundamentalists (or muslim or rasta conservatives for that matter)….the irony of an Afrikan brothas or sista talking to me about the rising menace of these homosexuals….the inherently sinful character of people having consensual sex…just coz the bible told dem so…..

ARE YOU FOR REAL? Take your fucking imported bible, that was one of the major tools by which OUR INDIGENOUS CULTURES AND KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS were obliterated and subverted, take your fucking composite religion that’s distorted teachings whose roots are ultimately from Africa…..take that bible and SHOVE IT!

(to be more liberal though….keep your religion to yourself….and separate it from the state….and I’ll practice my religion and n0t insist on reminding you that you’re brainwashed and need to know, I mean really, KNOW THINE SELF…and your ‘true’ culture)

Now, I try to be all liberal usually, and stick to, religion is a personal belief….but seriously, it’s seriously at odds with my growing belief that Christianity is probably the most harmful and destructive religion in the world….it’s sad how entrenched it is in Afrikan communities……I’m interested in reclaiming asiis, ngai, enkai, were, koko mwezi, mami wota, idemile…..i’m much more interested in reclaiming indigenous afrikan cultures…..and in unlearning all the values that were instilled in me, in the predominantly Christian environments I was raised in….

but that’s just me, who I feel triply sorry for are the queer/trans christians..I’ve met many of those too…I was one of those at some point, (then I became a queer muslim, then a queer rasta….what now you ask? well the only intuitive/logical place for me…AFRIKAN INDIGENIST)….and I emptahise with their struggle to reconcile their spirituality with their sexuality and be accepted within their religion…..

But before I get into non-points…here’s the essay that Lawrence Mute put out on that subject…..

On the 18th of December, 2008, a Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation
and Gender Identity with the backing of 66 states including six African countries, was read at the General Assembly. The statement reaffirmed “the principle of the universality of human rights amongst other things. But a counter-statement arguing against the statement supported by 60 states including a multitude of African countries.

In this essay that shows the discrepancy between universal human rights and their selective application, Lawrence M. Mute asks: Why did the whole of Anglophone Africa decline to support the Statement? Why did such little empathy flow from many discriminated groups to LGBTI communities? Why would many a group discriminated on grounds of race, disability or gender still find it rational to perpetuate discrimination on homosexuals or lesbians?

Africa’s hyprocrisy on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

Lawrence M. Mute

During the month when the World celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, an extremely rare, indeed one-time event, was witnessed at the United Nations General Assembly. On the 18th of December, 2008, a Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [1] with the backing of 66 states including six African countries [2], was read at the General Assembly.

The Statement drew its message exclusively from human rights normative frameworks such as the International Bill of Rights and interpretive statements from Treaty Body Committees. Among other things, it:

– Reaffirmed “the principle of the universality of human rights, … that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, … (and) the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity”;

– Raised concerns about: “violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity … (and) that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine
the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses”;

– Condemned “human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur…And;

– Urged “states to take all the necessary measures … to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention …, to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice … (and) to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on
issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity [3].”

The symbolic and actual importance of this Statement was dramatised by the reading of a counter-statement arguing against the Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, supported by 60 states including a multitude of African countries. The counter-statement was based on classic stereotyping, prejudice and disinformation most often articulated by homophobes and transphobes. It, among other things, stated that:
protection of sexual orientation could lead to the social normalisation and possibly the legalisation of deplorable acts such as paedophilia and incest.
It charged that the Statement was an attempt to create « ‘new rights’ or ‘new standards’ by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration and International Treaties to include such notions that were never articulated nor agreed by the general membership [4].

A High Level Side Event on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [5] to commemorate the Statement’s reading was addressed, among others, by Rama Yade, France’s Secretary of State for Human Rights; Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; Sunil Pant, an MP from Nepal; Michael O’flaherty, Raporteur of the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights in Relation to Sexual orientation and Gender Identity and member of the Human Rights Committee; Navanethen Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Lawrence Mute, a Commissioner with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. The Event sought both to celebrate as well as reflect on the way forward for ensuring the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities around the World.

But, back to the Statement itself, where one is bound to query why countries and mainstream civil society organizations which espouse human rights as universal, indivisible and interdependent still fail to acknowledge the unacceptability that fellow human beings should be killed, violated, discriminated or excluded from society simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. \

In particular, why did the whole of Anglophone Africa decline to support the Statement? Why did such little empathy flow from many discriminated groups to LGBTI communities? Why would many a group discriminated on grounds of race, disability or gender still find it rational to perpetuate discrimination on homosexuals or lesbians?
Was it that human rights are guaranteed to some and not to others?

States, as enjoined by the United Nations Charter and the plethora of Human Rights Treaties to which they are party, are the ultimate bastions for ensuring respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of all individuals and communities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Article 2 of the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights replicates anti-discrimination injunctions in other Human Rights Conventions when it requires that: “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status [6]. (Emphasis added) The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has interpreted the phrase “other status” in Article 2.2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to include the ground of sexual orientation [7]. Then again, the Human Rights Committee has interpreted the word “sex” in Article 2.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) , in Toonen v. Australia [8], as: “to be taken as including sexual orientation”.

So, why did so many African countries prefer to sign a counter-statement purveying homophobia and transphobia rather than support a cogent anti-discrimination and anti-violence position? In my address to the High Level Side Event, I noted that the discourse for ensuring that the rights of LGBTI communities are respected, protected and fulfilled has over the years been framed as a decidedly Northern/developed countries agenda, with minor exceptions at the legal if definitely not the popular level in developing jurisdictions such as South Africa. IN my assessment, five dynamics continue to dictate the manner in which developing countries in Africa and perhaps other regions interact with the rights of LGBTI communities.

First, is the dynamic of criminalization under which sodomy laws were nearly a century ago legislated into colonial Africa to criminalise homosexual and related acts. By the time that Africa’s colonizers began to expunge sodomy legislation from their statute books (through processes such as the 1956 Wolfenden Committee in the United Kingdom) [9], sodomy laws in Africa had become entrenched in a value ethic of their own sheathed in culture and religion under which homosexuality was touted as “un-African” and “unholy” [10]. This is the basis upon which sodomy laws today remain on the statute
books of countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania as “offenses against morality” [11], and are being legislated most recently in countries such as Burundi [12].

Second, is the dynamic of discrimination and violation. The legal plight of LGBTI people is not determined as such by sodomy laws, for these laws tend to be difficult or inconvenient to prosecute successfully. Far more pressing is the discrimination or the violation of LGBTI peoples’ rights to life, liberty, education, health or employment on account of their sexuality. A lesbian person in East Africa today fears to be “outed” because her homophobic employer may then engineer dismissal, in clear violation of the ICESCR as well as a host of other international, regional and national laws. “Outing” might also incite groups on the fringes of some cultural or religious traditions to hurt or kill such lesbian person in breach, among other norms, of the ICCPR.

Third, is the dynamic of political mobilization against LGBTI peoples. African experiences during the last two decades include a procession of heads of states – from President Moi, President Museveni, President Mugabi and President Nujoma – making decidedly homophobic statements equating homosexuality with beastliness and Western-derived baseness, and as a consequence mobilizing popular opprobrium against homosexual people. Our Legislatures have responded either through stony silence and prevarication or rabid rejection of LGBTI issues as policy or legislative concerns. The effect of this, for example, was a proposal in the Draft Constitution of Kenya, 2005, specifically stating that marriage may happen only between a man and a woman.

Fourth, however, is the dynamic of pragmatism which has increasingly informed the administrative actions and responses of our states’ bureaucracies. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has forced administrators in our Ministries of Health to realize that they must craft interventions specific to groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM’s) and commercial sex workers. The plans of our Ministries of Health now include express or implicit strategies on how to ensure that MSM’s conduct of sex is safe.

Fifth, the human rights discourse has finally began to impact the lives of Africa’s LGBTI peoples. The last few years have seen LGBTI communities beginning to “claim” their rights as rights-holders. When the World Social Forum was held in Nairobi in January 2007, the LGBTI communities socialized in the ‘Q-Spot’ tent where they articulated their rights concerns with conviction and courage. In East Africa, one notes the particular courageous activism of organizations like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) [13].

A more specific commentary must be made regarding the behaviour of South Africa in this matter. It was greatly disappointing that by “abstaining”, South Africa failed to show political and diplomatic leadership when its Constitution [14] as well as its Judiciary (for example its Constitutional Court) [14] have spoken so resoundingly against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. South Africa’s credentials as a “non-racist” and “non-sexist” nation had to be found wanting when her politicians and diplomats failed to stand alongside other World leaders in condemnation of homophobia and transphobia; a paradox that totally impeaches the philosophy of equality and non-discrimination. Could it really be that South Africa’s political leadership tolerates the dehumanizing violence so graphically meted out on lesbians in that country? South Africa’s silence at the General Assembly on the 18th of December was compounded when the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, herself a South African, while addressing the Side Event, recollected with warmth South Africa’s firm anti-gay constitutional provisions and past supportive statements from South Africa’s Minister of Health at the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference.

During the Side Event, Mr Verhagen urged the Human Rights Committee to prepare a new General Comment on Article 2 of the ICCPR covering non-discrimination. Mr O’Flaherty urged states and mainstream human rights organizations to provide the UN’s Treaty Committees and Special Procedures’ holders information with relevance for LGBTI communities. This would enable these human rights mechanisms to ask more searching questions and make more incisive recommendations in the areas of women’s rights, torture, etc, as these relate to LGBTI communities. I warned that as much as we may desire and rhetorise constitutional and legislative reforms including decriminalisation, this would be unlikely to happen in the immediate short term. I hoped that in the medium term our Judiciaries had limitless possibilities of making enlightened decisions to enhance the rights of LGBTI communities [16]. I urged activists to deploy the intersectional approach to leverage the technical and lobbying capacities of all groups which are discriminated on grounds such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual
orientation or others to work together to combat discrimination. Our experiences thus far have tended to range one discriminated group against the whole society such that such group’s gains or losses have also to be borne singly. I noted that even as we acknowledge that human rights are universal, strategies for the realization of human rights may be localized to particular regions. Northern advocates on the rights of LGBTI communities and backers from the North must not presume that the strategies of their peers from the South must coincide with theirs. It should not be about how rights are realized; it should be that rights do become realised.

In conclusion, African states must acknowledge that there is an irreducible minimum of rights which must apply to LGBTI peoples simply because they do apply to all other human beings in our various jurisdictions. As articulated in the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [17], this irreducible minimum of rights that must be protected does not envisage the promulgation of new rights, but rather stresses the imperativeness of ensuring already existent rights, including protection of LGBTI people from discrimination, respect of the right to privacy and ensuring their rights to life, liberty, expression and movement. The Yogyakarta Principles are a critical component in the toolkit of states and advocates as we seek to ensure that the rights of LGBTI communities are realized; and their localization in an African context should happen.

* Commissioner, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights;

email: lmute@knchr.org
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at
http://www.pambazuka.org/

Notes:

1. Available at
www.ilga.org/news_results.asp?LanguageID=1&FileID=1211&FileCategory=44&ZoneID=7(accessed
on 24 December 2008).

2. The African states were Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Gabon,
Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, and Sao Tome and Principe.

3. Supra footnote 2

4. Available at
www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10617078.asp?gid=24(accessed on

24 December 2008).

5. Held at UN Headquarters, New York, between 1:00 and 3:00 pm on 18
December 2008

6. For the approach of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
on sexual orientation and gender identity, see Rachel Murray and Frans Viljoen, “Towards Non Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation: The Normative Basis and Procedural Possibilities before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union”, available at
https://www.up.ac.za/dspace/bitstream/2263/4092/1/Murray_Towards(2007).pdf<https://www.up.ac.za/dspace/bitstream/2263/4092/1/Murray_Towards%282007%29.pdf>

(accessed on 25 December 2008).

7. This is the case, for example, in General Comment Nos 18 of 2005 (on the right to work), 15 of 2002 (on the right to water), and 14 of 2000 (on the right to the highest attainable standard of health).

(See Michael O’Flaherty and John Fisher: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and International Human Rights Law: Contextualising the Yogyakarta Principles, Oxford University Press, 2008)

8. Available at: www1.unnedu/humanrights/undocs/html/vws488.htm (accessed on
25 December 2008).

9. This Committee concluded that homosexual behaviour between consenting
adults in private was part of the “realm of private morality which is not the law’s business” and should no longer be criminal”. For relevant analysis, see Philip Dayle with Alok Gubta: “Beyond the Polemics: The Continuing ‘Gay’ Rights Project and the Post-Colonial South”, paper presented at the Experts’ Meeting on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Human Rights, Yogyakarta, 6-9 November 2006.

10. For an erudite discussion on the manner in which colonial Britain forced
its sodomy laws on its colonies and the consequences of that, see: This Alien Legacy: The Origins of (Sodomy) Laws in British Colonialism, Human Rights Watch, 2008, available at
http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/12/17/alien-legacy-0

(accessed on 27 December 2008).

11. Kenya’s Penal Code still stipulates punishments of 14 years for the offense of having carnal knowledge on or by another “against the order of nature”; Tanzania’s sentencing in this regard is 30 years while that of Uganda is life imprisonment (see Sylvia Tamale’s reflections in: This Body: Supporting LGBTI Organising in East Africa, Urgent Action Fund, 2006).

12. See “Burundian Gays Oppose New Anti Homosexual Penal Code”, available at
www.mask.org.za/article.php?cat=burundi&id=2015 (last accessed on 26
December 2008).

13. Even the electronic and print media nowadays carries some programming
content discoursing around the concerns of LGBTI communities. This year, a
private TV station with national reach carried a discussion programme under
its Hatua series where Kenyans expressed diverse views on the legality, morality and rights contexts of concerns of LGBTI communities. Perhaps paradoxically, even the homophobia witnessed within the Anglican Church has engendered public consciousness on the rights of LGBTIs.

14. Section 9(3) of the South African Constitution of 1996.

15. Minister of Home Affairs v. Fourie, 2006 (3) BCLR 355 (CC), which found
the prohibition of gay marriage to be unconstitutional; also, the National
Coalition of Gay and Lesbian Equality v. the Minister of Justice, 1998 (12)
BCLR 1517 (CC)(S.Afr), where the Constitutional Court declared sodomy laws
unconstitutional.

16. Apart from specifically listed grounds for which discrimination is outlawed, East Africa’s anti-discrimination constitutional provisions include the ground of ‘other status’, (in Kenya referred to as “other local connexion”) which progressive judicial interpretation would quite easily read as a basis for excluding discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Committee on Rights of the Child] interpretation); or the ground
of “sex” which could be similarly interpreted (Human Rights Committee)
interpretation). (See Lawrence Mute, “Sexual Rights as Human Rights:
Operationalisation by Stealth”, in Sex Matters, Urgent Action Fund-Africa,
2007). 17. Available at
www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.htm(accessed on 25 December
2008).