the truth about stories is…they’re all we got….you can do anything you want with this one, it’s yours for the taking….share it with others, forget it, criticise the strategies, fill in the gaps, but don’t say you’d have lived your life differently, if (only) you knew, now you know.

here’s another transcript fresh off the presses….this shit is live!

There was extended discussion on what people had experienced or heard post the Pulse and Nation marriage article. The reactions have been varied and disturbing. There has been increased hate mail received at GALCK that is disconcerting for all that use the center and this issue will be discussed further at the next GALCK meeting.

There also seemed to be an increase in hostility towards the community. Some of the stories shared last night included the following:

 

1. One member was attacked in her neighbourhood as she went home the Friday after the Pulse article came out. Three men stopped her and punched her till she was bloody. She is also about to be evicted from her workplace because she is a lesbian. The community has always known she was a lesbian and there had been no problems. Why the attack now?

2. Individuals whose pictures were on the Pulse magazine had major challenges with their families. Two of the individuals had their mothers become hysterical after neighbours shared the pictures from the newspapers.

One of those individuals has moved out of the house and town to try and figure things out. The third individual in the picture had to alter his movements in his neighbourhood to ensure that he is not attacked. Of course they have all suffered tremendous stress and hardships over the situation.

3. A GALCK staff member who went to collect the keys for a new post office box was delayed at the office for hours and informed that she would have to wait and meet the Director of the office. There was a lot of murmur by the office staff and some actually coming over to gawk at her and see, I guess, what a lesbian looks like.

Luckily for her, plus her great way with people, she was able to turn a rather hostile engagement to one that was more amicable. The post office official informed her that she would need to meet with her lawyers first to be clear about opening a P O Box for an LGBTI group and she would get back to her later in the week. As the GALCK staff member left the post office, the officer told her that she would pray for her and her like.

 

With these types of reaction you can see that there was real debate about the community responding to the media. Would a response only escalate the situation? After much debate there was agreement that some form of  response from the community must be generated. Silence was not seen as the answer to the situation. LGBTI individuals would continue to get attacked whether there was a response or not.

However there was agreement that there would have to be a strategic response that took into consideration the actual risks the community faces at this time.

 

There was then a discussion of what strategic issues or responses the group should think about in terms of responding. The following were points brought up in terms of a response:

 

1. The need to utilize personal stories. These can never be refuted since one is talking from their own personal experience.

2. Awareness creation of the reality of LGBTI Kenyans. Everyone agreed that the larger society is incredibly uninformed about homosexuality and LGBTI individuals. There is need to provide basic information on the community.

3. Need to base the conversation about LBGTI communities within a human rights framework. Kenyans have been inundated with human rights discussions from a number of years now and this would simply be about expanding that discussion to include LGBTI communities.

4. Whatever rules and procedures are agreed by the community on engaging with the media must be strictly adhered to for this community response to be successful

5. There is need to prioritize the public health perspective in responding to the media. HIV/AIDS is understood by many in the society and any situation like the present situation where a segment of the society is sidelined including from accessing health care services simply for who they are would not be tolerated.

6. It must be made clear to the media that same sex marriage IS NOT a priority for the LGBTI community in Kenya period. This is a story they have generated and there are many other very pressing concerns for the community. It was also stressed that even if the issue is not brought up at an interview the point should still be made.

7. The move by the LGBTI community to challenge the existing colonial hold-over draconian laws is to make health care and other servicesavailable to the community ( utilizing a Public Health approach)

8. Need to pick which media houses to engage with. There are friendly media houses and journalists and they should be the ones targeted with our statement.

9. Need to engage with human rights, civil society and health allies on this situation.

 

Agreements

 

A. It was agreed that the community generate a statement that incorporates the following areas:

 

1. A health and human rights perspective

2. Same sex unions are not a Kenyan LGBTI priority

3. There are LGBTI Kenyan citizens, who are just regular folk, who work, pay taxes, face all the problems that Kenyans do and are committed to the development of a country that is prosperous and respectful of ALL of its citizens.

 

A group was constituted to generate the first draft that will be presented at the next GALCK meeting.

 

B. There was a question as to why the interest in the community now. There have been many parties and LGBTI gatherings in Nairobi and Kenya over many years now. Why is the community being targeted at this time? There were those who felt that this was cyclic and that with a slow news week this was one issue to pick up.

However the majority felt that this may be a more calculated move by forces organized against the community to begin a campaign against the community. These forces were also seen as coming from within our own community. Considering what is happening in our neighboring countries it was felt that it was important for us to actually take the time to have more in-depth discussion and begin early strategizing if any such efforts are underway in our country.

There was recommendation that a Human Rights group take this organizing piece on. Akiba Uhaki was mentioned as the organization that could possibly lead this discussion forward.

 

I’ll stop here.  

a concerned brotha.

 

 

More on everything at the PROTEST/BAHATI party next Wednesday @ the GladStone Hotel.

from 7:30 – 11:00pm,

we’re putting more of our own politics back into partying…..

en building solidarity within queer/trans communities.

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to learn how to give love and to let it come in.

 in the spirit of love en resistance,

here’s another gift (yes yes y’all! tis’ the giving season)

more s/heroes waxing LIBERATORY  about  OUR  stories.

iS.I.S: you are beautiful

kenyai think it’s significantly telling that the day after I found out the fact of the anniversary of matthew sheppards fatal attack, I read an email about another gay brotha’s attack.

as with almost every injustice that I read about that’s happened in Kenya, in some ways, I feel powerless. I”m here, what can I really do? Folks here don’t pay much attention to the local politics of East Afrika, let alone the entire continent, but then again some do, and those are the ones we’re looking for.

I’m way past agonising, I know that there’s always something I/we can do, if no one’s talking about these incidents, then I/we will,

and the reality is that many people are talking en writing about them, we just need to know where to look and how to listen,

and I mean really listen…….and spread the word.

my particular positioning and politics dictate that I convey these stories,

that we keep telling them (the) truth and fight back with our own (creative) power,

instead of simultaneously eating and ignoring our own…….

but before I digress,

here’s what the “manager” of the only queer resource centre in Kenya, GALCK, had to say on a recent attack against a gay man

 

On Saturday evening, a very committed Other Sheep – Kenya member was viciously attacked by his neighbours, and badly wounded allegedly for being gay.

 Though there are conflicting details regarding the circumstances of the attack, this incident brings to the fore the need for all of us to take our own security seriously and not to let our guard down even for a minute.

To help our dear partner in this hour of need please get in contact with Rev. Kimindu.

Peter and his partner have also been evicted from their house, and may need support to relocate, but Rev. Kimindu, the Other Sheep Coordinator would have all the details – Get in contact with him.

Meanwhile,

there is this interesting article on “False Sense of Security” available on our Galck website, that might make an interesting read

(http://www.galck.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44:security&catid=9:activism&Itemid=9)

 

Kind regards

David.i'mma afrikan III

i'mma afrikan V

 

kamaus listening party III

 

 

 

uganda

 

 

rwanda

 

 

burunditanzaniaflagethiopia

flagsomaliaflagsudan

 

 

 

 

 

habari ndio hiyo

i'mma afrikan IV

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).

about the q werd.  An experiment in resistance and pan-Afrikan creativity

Concept Note

The documentary/serial soap/tragi-comedic depiction of the drama, politics, sex, loves and scandals that follow a group of young-ish (en older) queer/trans Afrikan friends.

[parabola treatment: the first release focuses on the stories & lives of not-so-random folks involved in putting this together, and all the people that have been influential and we’ve crossed paths with in life. These are the diaries and interviews with Akinyi, Alix, Anne M, Audrey, Blessol, Faith, illo, Kasha, Karie, Leslie, Nikki, Patricia, Po, Roxie, Sylvia, Valentine, Victor, Zawadi….to start….there are more interviews with womyn & trans folk of Afrikan descent in the second ‘season’]

Q werd positions itself in conversation with the (Western) L word in acknowledgement of its pioneer status in breaking through in/to mainstream consumer culture conscious.ness as a named/branded entity. It locates itself with/in a dialectical exchange of the construction of identity & the power of resistance & self determination.

It addresses the problematic and turbulent politics of race/ethnicity/sex/class/gender variations/ religion(s) in our society and interrogates the white/western/capitalist/imperialist/lesbian hegemonic thought that the L word (seems to be/) is based on. It explores the ruptures inherent in the U.S shit-stem, and neo-liberal petit-bourgeoise discourses in Afrikan countries.

[parabola treatment: the first documentary is more than Kenya, Uganda, or Canada…which is where the main stories are told…it is locating the political &pan-Afrikan in the personal. It is a direct result of working with what we got…we warn you, ladies & gentlemen (and those of you yet to decide), we have only jus’ begun…]

Q werd is a work/shop in progress. It is organic and collective. It is a living story.
These are the diaries of warriors en queer/trans rights activists (of colour/ed shades en vivrant revolushunary ideologies).
The stories of survivors & hustlers. Of youth en (not-so) single mamas.
These, are the days, and the night/scapes of our lives.
Of contradictions, in/hyper/visibility and fear.
This is nothing more than an attempt to share our realities,
For the purpose of Art (for social change)…
This is more than jus’ a(nother) video…these are our testimonies,
Documenting and archiving Afrikan cultures.

Firmly grounded in (pan) Afrikan/black feminist thought it acts as a portal and reflection of the diverse realities of black and Afrikan women and is being re/created in resistance to the marginalisation/exploitation and distortion of black/Afrikan experiences fe/male experiences.

This ‘conversation’ with the L word is a matter of talking back. Taking back and reclaiming our identities. It examines the (many) gaps and fills them in with what we think should be.
The ‘werd’ charts the process of the embodiment of particular/queer identities that are inhabited/rejected/disavowed/subverted and portrayed in (public) consciousness.

Like Bette, the ‘bi/racial/black’ one, being blacker……and, Papi, being there. It is more black butch women. And many different kinds of trannies. It is the Birkenstock/vegan/second wave white feminist, and the stereotypical ‘community’ worker. It is the activists and the freaks. The many, many, many, many people in the closets.

It is parading myriad identities. It is family and lies, and the truth of (the need for change en) compromise. It is fighting degrading influences, like the fascination with the West we grew up with. It is learning to love ourselves (again). It is masturbation and bi/dykes doing non-monogamy. It is education as the practice of freedom and listening to the lessons of the streets, and the village(s).

It is war. It is resistance. It is every day and every other thing that concerns as as queer women and trans folk. Ni mtaani. It is black ghettoes. Growing class divides. It is Fanny Ann Eddy and Audre Lorde. It is abuse en violence. Unreported hate crimes. Fucked up ‘behavioural practices’. It is self.defense. It is (about) freedom now. Tracy chapman. The ‘invisible’ face/voice of the WSW. It is reality. (necessarily) phantastical.

[parabola treatment: because as the story develops, as we get to more about the womyn in the Q word, we recognise that there is alot that can’t be revealed. We are bound by fear of the repercussions of ‘outing’ others and so we put ourselves on the line(of vision), so to speak, and alter/hide the names of those we’ve loved, fucked, worked, or crossed paths with…and yet, we speak…..)

The Q werd unashamedly tries to be many things for many people and it is singularly focused on the black/Afrikan experience as the central concern of it’s stories.

It is a multi-pronged political act that is about sharing the process of self-recovery, healing and positive living. It is about love. Mama Afrika. It is about loving ourselves, more than hating (on) any/thing else. It is about critical/reflective thinking and mostly it is about change.

The ‘werd’ responds to the paucity of re/presentation of queer/black/Afrikan brothas in the L word. It brings in more positive stories of darkness and being real. It re-politicises the commodified characters.

It does this through the subversive use of the resources available (to the writers/participants/theorists/actors, and, producers).

The L word. A few cameras. Many hours of interviews with many different Afrikan womyn, men and trannies. Lots of gossip and drama. A collective of womyn creating a tv show. Different media. Pen and paper. Cartoons. Private space & public ground. And all this ‘fiction’ is the Q. werd.

The Q werd is about womyn loving wom(b)en en trannies loving wo/men en men loving women. It is normal. It is troubled by all the shit. It is ‘other’ than. It is (some of) ‘the people’. It is about re/membering the past and using our reality to a portray a true picture of ourselves. It is rastas en beautiful (dark) dread lock sistas. It is tomboys & brazen femmes. It is immigrant/emigrant and migrant bodies. It is prisons and boarding schools. It is the girl(s) you (knew who liked other girls who you) played with in high school.
It is the chief’s wife and your aunty from ushago. It is the ho on K-street. The ones standing on the secretive corners of Arwings Kodhek. They are the ‘lesbian’ cliques of dandora, umoja, jamhuri & hurlingham. The old man (?) of the village of N It is ‘western’ gays and lesbians and conflicted Christians. It is queer muslims and Al-Lat worshippers. It is kinky. It is bourgeoise safety/urban privilege in just being ‘out’ and passing life’s existence in sharp contrast to other queers & trannies around the country. It is the contradictions of those ‘in the life’.

It is sh/itty living. Escape. Safe refuge(s). it is the (lack of safe) shelter(s).
It is endless conversa-shun. Specu-la-shun. It is ‘such-a-lesbian-ting’ processing.
It is fights and (adamant) denials. Its bruises. death. sacred ‘interverntions’ and being saved (again). It is something by an ‘other’ name. it is not lesbian. Tho many of the women innit are…

(repeat)
it is not the L word.

It is a parody of the parody of a parody of queer reality and re/presentation in film.
It is multi-dimensional.

The show (also) places itself firmly with/in the contradictory position of refuting the existence of lesbians. This is it’s ‘achilles heel’….so to (western) speak. It might be it’s death ultimately.
It refutes the existence of lesbians – naturally in Afrika; where wo/men were loving wo/men from ancient (times) en we knew different….
where Great Gawdess was prolly a dyke hirself too, somewhere in the beginning. Same-sex. And n’way that woman sappho only went over to that isle of lesbos not even a few centuries ago…

There was a light and then there was the (q) word.
(the) Qore
(of new beginnings and endless repetitions).

It is re-inscribed,
from (Pan) Afrikan landscapes
and the L word…
this diction/stories/poetry of life/death/life cycles.
It is controversial.
and as much as it tries to give space to the largest number of views and interpretations of the state of world politics and (oppressive/necessary/positive) relations with each other.
It is (avowedly) revolutionary.
It is anti-capitalist/pan-Afrikan/anarchist in it’s narration of the issues as (the collective) and ‘particular’ oppressed people(s) see them.

It is hip(s). sex in the afternoon.
It is cook(s)in. steamy kitchens.
Mchuzi wa samaki na mahamri.
It is mango kisses and ejaculating cunts.
It is locked on the floor, reading poetry to each other.
It is the mundane.
The clothes that need to be washed.
It is work. It is necessary.
Unfolding quest of (re) building (communities).
Growing (old) together.

It is beauty.
Incarnate in sistas loving each other,
(re) learning our groove(s) and
sticking up for the ‘other’
sista…
more fiya \sista….

en brothas loving each other,
questioning dem (much) maligned (dark) selves and
looking out for the ‘other’
brotha…
more fiya/brotha.

It is hip(s) rocking against each other. Tight embraces..
It is activism. Battling conformist tendencies.
Shunning the ‘politically correct’ in favour of ‘the truth’.
It is the soul of (queer/trans) folk.
People’s movement.
Searching for a new soul.
Gathered to the beats of (wa akina) mama (wa) Afrika.
Young and old, black and proud (new) Afrikans.

Indigenous.

It is reflective. Reflexive. Introspective.
Remembering the sacrifices of our ancestors/their lives/once/shattered,
From glorious (inter) connection(s)/peace (pipes)
Ruptured from (the) connection with (the) divine,
Distracted by petty wars and insidious presences.

It remembers the prophecies.
The sangomas and (wota) priestesses,
(earth) healers en magic(k)al herbalists,
the warriors who fought and died for (our) freedom.

It is…
(repeat) not the ‘L’ word.

It is…
(tinged) perceptibly with (self) consciousness.
Ni ma kucha na ma sagana…..
Ni ma shoga na mabisexuals.
Na ma pansexuals na MSM.
It is questioning and curious. Womyn. Men. Trannies.

It is conflicted.
Working on self/social acceptance and fully involved in the struggle for (Afrikan) liberation.

It is…
(repeat)
Pan-Afrikan(ist). Black nationalist.
It announces it’s feminist/wom(b)anist/anarchist intent in the shots of contested terrain(s).
It is talking (sharp) with each other.
It is not about (hating) the (white) man or excluding the white woman.
It is just that we need to talk amongst ourselves. Put ourselves first.
It is blood.(claat.) shedding and (shifting) public spaces.
It is subjective and communal.
It is bedrooms and the state(s) of (dying/thriving) nation(s).
It pokes its nose into every oppre-shun.
Doesn’t (necessarily have to) stick to the script.
The stories are old, and many of the characters (un)predictable.
All are contradictory and all a dem harbour (not-so) secret fantasies and wild dreams.
Some of the womyn have learned to ground themselves, are eager to share with others;
Others run (like luna-tics) in those ‘mythical’ red shoes.

Red (black & green) is the motif.
Blood. claat present in every episode,
Coz as the opener declares….

[opening quote subject to change]

‘as long as (one of) my sista(s) and brotha(s) is oppressed then so am I…
to be a true revolutionary one must understand love.
Love. Sacrifice. And. Death

(sonia sanchez)

This is the poetic capsule of a conversa-shun with the L word.
This (en so much more) is the Q werd.

This is the product of a collective imagin-ashun.
The dreams, wishes en collected conversashuns,
Of super sistas, queens en kings,
struggling to rebuild their communities.
These are the challenges and achievements of (all) the people.

This a proposal and a call (out) to join the process of participatory research and co-operative publications.
the (living) framework that guides our search for truth, justice, peace…
En freedom…..

To speak in our languages,
Mould the cultivated tongues,
This used to be the master’s language, en the mistress’s tools,
This English version of a plea to burn all dem lies,
En rediscover (black/dark) self/communal love.

This is for the ancestors,
In memory of great gawdess,
I pray,
I release all disappointments,
Coz I know that spirit guides me
And love lives inside me,
That’s why today I live life as it comes,
Trusting in each moment,
That Jah, Al-Lat, Asiis, Yemoja provides,
Authentic love.

What I’m searching for,
This feeling in my heart,
That brings joy to my soul,
I found it…

This prince(ss?) that me want/ed in me life.
I found you,
Quite unexpectedly,
love was ntense/a sweet surprise,
So good,
So everything that I’d been looking to be(come)….
You changed me…

This is a tragic (love) story,
[and not even]
Translated into (not so) convenient fictions.
It is the diary of one luna/tic warrior,
The ravings of a cheated/lover.
This is hot, hot, hot off the press of current reality…
You want to know what it’s like being queer in Kenya….
It’s mostly hell,
Borrowed terms & radical inclusions.

It can be (like) heaven
Found in secret places,
And growing communities
Mis/placed with (little) knowledge & obscured intentions.

We’re still in the process of finding ourselves.

You want to know what it’s like?
It is a contradiction in itself,
Being queer
(and writing about it)
In Kenya

And, dear viewer, to waste no further no time in introducing the plot of this story,
My conversation with you, this guided tour of the complexities and boundaries of the communities across my country and the continent…

This is the q word, yeah, and yet really, if we’re going to be (about the ) truth/full here, it’s mostly my werd, see this isn’t some fanciful/bourgeoise/western interpretation of what it means to live as a ‘sexual minority’….this is best practices in implementation…if there are so many people in the closet, if it’s so un-african, as most of these religious/fundamentalist brain washed bigots keep foolishly repeating (being little aware or posturing ignorance of the weakness & glaring Achilles heel of their oft repeated argument – there could be possibly nothing more borrowed, distorted & un-african than the modern version of Christianity: the very same agents who were trekking into heathen lands, not far away from the explorers & the anthropologists & all the hungry prospectors, carrying the bible in their hands and proclaiming divine justice, if only one believed in jesus Christ, the only son of God……those are (some of the) ones responsible for our fall and rapid destruction….

We were among the first to fall,
Which is why the best i could come up with for myself,
So far,
The most fitting and convenient,
Remains to be queer – i can move within the contours that were shaped in resistance to hate & oppressive language

The ‘q word’, like I told you before, is not what you think it is, it’s really just about me, and my group of friends, revolushunaries and lovas, allies & enemies i’ve made along the way…
To keep this simple and submit to the dictates of economics & available resources, I’m gonna try not make up (too much) of the gist & chronology of events….
To keep this simple, i’m just gonna walk you through my journey in the last year…

I have officially been back for (just over) a year….
And I am still one of the few people that I’ve met here,
That even call/identify themselves as queer,
A radical/questioning/anarchist/
Fervent afrikan liberationist.

I choose to stand on the fringes,
All the better to see the crowds, and the capacity of….
Resistance, and the people,
with….

I have under gone a meta-morphoses in it/self,
Sacrificed many privileges,
And the truth is I’m struggling,
And I’ve had my heart broken, adjusted to ‘pseudo’ po living,
And working mostly alone,
Battling with a few brave others,
And finding allies where I hoped I would….

I warn you,
we have only just begun…

living document…….amai, blessol, cindy, nadine, nina, po, krys, akinyi, anne, anyone else who’s interested…..let’s continue with the editing…. we’ve got a bunch of interviews collected….we’re going to have alot more in toronto…..we want all this to be participatory and tied in to other educational & arts initiatives…..how can we work together? what are your ideas? how can we help each other share our stories, for art, for social change…