Too much hate

This is my first update in a while. Mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. I could have written about the continued abuse and erosion of rights that LGBTIQQA Africans are facing at the hands of their own governments. I could have written about the harassment GALZ and its staff are facing from the police resulting in spurious charges of contravening sections of Zimbabwe’s infamous POSA (Public Order and Security Act) leveled against a very good friend of mine. I could have written about the wave of hurtful and sometimes libelous lists circulating amongst gay Zimbabweans. I could have written on South Africa’s continued refusal to hold other African governments to task on LGBTI rights. I could go on and on here but then that would miss the point of why I started this blog. I was trying to use my life ad struggles to illustrate the kind of struggles LGBTI individuals face in Zimbabwe and Africa. Instead, I’ve been caught up in this cycle of hate playing itself across the continent. Instead, I’m starting to feel like I’m using my voice to tell the stories of those that hate. I’m no longer telling my story. I’ve been forced by the hate to put my story aside. I won’t be doing that anymore!

When hate becomes law…

Africa has become a horribly more intolerant place for the LGBTI community. In less than two months, Nigeria and Uganda have legislated hate and intolerance. In the few days since the laws were passed, angry mobs have besieged and killed suspected gay men in both countries. An anti-gay lobby has become more vocal in the Kenyan legislature and is threatening to enact a similar law there. Here in Zimbabwe, GALZ is back in court defending it’s existence in a trial that should never have gone forward. The High Court of Zimbabwe has already ruled that GALZ does not have to register as a Private Voluntary Organisation. This case is a waste of the courts’ time and money. Incidents of harassment by both police and citizens are on the increase up and down the continent.

I was going to talk about how disappointed I am by the South African government’s silence on the issue. They have instead chosen to release a statement condemning the treatment of LGBTI people worldwide, failing to name and shame a single country. That speaks of the cowardice of Zuma’s government and makes it harder for South Africa to stand on the moral high ground when it comes to human rights in Africa and beyond. The ‘West’ rather has rallied against Nigeria and Uganda and have threatened to pull development aid from Uganda. While this step reminds Africa’s governments that they are being watched and will be held accountable for anti-human rights moves, it could also backfire. The last thing African governments want is to be told what to do, especially by the ‘West’. Threatening aid cuts only emboldens them. They know they can turn to China easily; Chinese investment does not come with restrictions or the need to uphold human rights.

I don’t know what needs to be done to address the issue if hate becoming law. Except to say that legislating morality should be a no-go area, especially when it relates to consenting adults. If governments are willing to look into my bedroom and legislate what I can and cannot do, how long will it be before they look into yours.

Update: Dr Paul Semugoma

It looks like Paul will be released by the end of the day to be reunited with his loved ones in Johannesburg. According to the reports I’ve read, Paul has applied for asylum in South Africa and as such his continued detention at the OR Tambo International Airport is no longer warranted. The team that had gathered at the courts to protest his detention has confirmed that they are going to the airport to ensure and celebrate his release. The campaign to free him seems to have worked. This was a campaign spearheaded by local activists, with the international community following their lead. This is how campaigns should be run from now on!

This is definitely good news, but I wonder how many more LGBTI Africans have been deported by the South African government back to countries where their safety cannot be guaranteed? The world needs to keep watching.

South Africa, get it right please! Free Dr Paul Semugoma

I’ve written about how South Africa has been disappointing Africa’s LGBTI community by remaining silent on the discriminatory laws being passed all over the continent. Now, they have detained and are ready to deport Dr Paul Semugoma back to Uganda where he will undoubtedly face harassment and detention for being a vociferous opponent of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He is also an activist and specialist on health rights for MSM. His deportation would be a loss for South Africa and it’s fight against HIV especially in the MSM community. This is strange move for a country that talks the talk when it comes to human rights. It is, however, consistent with the country’s shoddy and inconsistent record when it comes to LGBTI rights. My prayers and thoughts are with Paul and his partner Brian and everyone on the ground in Johannesburg who is actively fighting this deplorable action. If you want to help in some way, I urge you to sign the petition here and spread the word! This is an ongoing story and will continue being updated.

Love is all around…

It’s Valentine’s day again and to some that may be a bad thing, and to others it’s one of the most special days of the year. I’m one of those people who doesn’t celebrate the day. Not because I don’t have anyone to celebrate it with, but because I can’t publicly express my love. This year, this day has come as laws against same-sex love have been enacted or tightened in many African to include punishments as harsh as death. There seems to be no country on the continent that’s taking a stand for Africa’s LGBTI community. Even South Africa, the shining beacon of hope for all of us, is deafeningly silent. The world’s attention seems to be directed at Russia, where discriminatory laws were passed on the eve of the Winter Olympics. To this black African gay man, it feels a bit like the world doesn’t care what happens to us. It feels like only discrimination against white gays in Europe is the only discrimination that matters. People are dying here too. People are being arrested here too. People are being kicked out of their homes and thrown onto the streets. Access to health care is restricted and substandard. I could go on. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll wish one and all a happy Valentine’s day.

Three letters

This post is inspired by and dedicated to a friend who has been recently diagnosed with HIV. I feel his pain, his anger, his confusion and his strength. I vow to stand with him in what ever way he needs me to. It’s also the first poem I’ve ever shared like this, so be kind… SB this is for you.

red-ribbon

Three letters

A death sentence
Nothing can be the same again
Denial, anger, blame
Anything but acceptance
Acceptance would mean dealing with mortality and the truth about the fluids we share during sex
Acceptance would mean acknowledging the fragility of our human bodies and the fleeting nature of our existence
Denial allows us to go on living a normal life until our bodies begin to outwardly show the scars of the battle within
Three letters

A fight for survival
It’s amazing how three letters can change the course of your life
How your body can become a battleground
Every cell for itself!
Every cell fighting against an enemy so deceptive, it hides in plain sight
An enemy that snuck in during a moment of careless abandon
An enemy that could have been held back by a thin latex sheath
But in those wanton moments of ecstasy, the last thing you wanted was to stop and reach for the rubber
Instead you let that hard pulsating spear penetrate you and leave a scar that will never heal

Three letters can turn your sexual past into a map of betrayal and accusation
Three letters will turn each orgasmic moan into screams of shame
Three letters can turn every dick you sensually stroked into weapons of your destruction
Three letters turn your normal life into a life of doctors and tests and pills
Three letters and your sex life becomes a carefully orchestrated routine of disclosure and negotiation

Three letters that now define you
Three letters that turn you into a statistic, a cliché, a tick in a box on the endless array of forms that run our lives
Three letters that turn you into a tool for the global machine built to combat the disease
A machine that now gorges itself on donations and government subsidies
Three letters and your choices are now dictated by memos and reports from faceless agencies a world away
They tell you what to eat
They tell you what pills to take and when to take them
They tell you what’s safe for you to do
They tell you what sex you can or cannot have

Three letters
H I V
Three letters that I refuse to become me
Three letters that I do not blame anyone, including myself, for making a part of my story

Three letters
I acknowledge them
I accept them

And I shall live

And I shall love

A not so happy new year…

2014 has started and I can’t help but feel like the air has been violently removed from my bubble. During the past few weeks, Africa has become a less tolerant place for its LGTBIQQA citizens.

First, the Ugandan parliament passed a bill that proposes lengthy sentences for both same-sex loving people and their supporters just before Christmas. It was audaciously called an early Christmas present to the people from the parliament. The good news is that Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, has since refused to sign the bill into law. His reasons, according to this article, don’t exactly inspire hope for the future of LGTBIQQA citizens of Uganda.
The second and similar problematic thing is the unannounced but expected signing of the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan early in January. The act was adopted and passed by the legislative branches of government in 2011 and 2013. Consensual sex between adults of the same sex was already criminalised in Nigeria, with punishments as severe as death in some northern states where sharia law. What this new law does is to even criminalize groups that advocate for gay rights in Nigeria.
While all this has been happening, a transsexual friend of mine who lives as a woman was arrested for using a female toilet in Bulawayo. The case was thrown out by the judge. Also in Bulawayo, a GALZ sponsored Christmas party was raided by the police and several prominent figures within ZANU PF’s Youth League were outed to the party structures. No charges have been filed but they still live in fear.
Meanwhile, South Africa, seen by many as a beacon of hope when it comes to gay rights in Africa, has remained silent. International condemnation has been loud and quick. Petitions from all over the world are littering the internet. And still South Africa remains silent. There are serious discussions about reform of the United Nations Security Council to include a permant seat for an African country. The top two contenders are South Africa and Nigeria and that saddens me. We cannot allow African countries that don’t respect or protect African LGBTI rights the privilege of representing the continent on the Security Council. The time has come for us to speak out and stand up for our rights!

Hamba kahle Tata

It’s been ten days since Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away. Like the rest of the world, I’ve mourned the passing of a great and inspirational leader and human being. I’ve cried and sung and danced with those mourning him across South Africa. But I’ve also taken the time to examine what his legacy means for me as a young black gay African man.

In his autobiography “A Long Walk to Freedom,” Nelson Mandela wrote about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and how it drove him to continue in the struggle against Apartheid. Of particular value to him and his defining philosophy was the first article which declares: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The South African Bill of Rights proudly guarantees and promotes that equality. South Africa became the first and, to date, only Afican country that explicitly protects the LGBTI community from discrimination when a new constitution was signed into law by Mr. Mandela in 1996 leading to the eventual decriminalisation of sodomy in 1998 and the legalisation of gay marriage in 2006.
However, having said all this, it cannot be forgotten that Mr. Mandela was a man of his time. He was educated at a conservative Jesuit mission school, he spent many years in prison where homosexuality is used as a tool for abuse and control, he never once vocalised support for the LGBTI community and most shockingly he never spoke out against the horrific practice of what has come to be known as “corrective rape.” It’s a complicated and difficult reality to reconcile with the image of Mr. Mandela as the heroic saintly champion of equality. Moreover, he never used his status as a elder statesman in Africa to challenge his fellow leaders to respect and protect the rights of their own LGBTI communities.
I am not trying to speak ill of the dead or minimise the enormous impact Mr. Mandela has had in South Africa, in Africa and across the world. But I believe it is important to fully examine his life so we can learn from and be fully inspired by his legacy. I am moved daily by his message of love, hope, forgiveness, tolerance, reconciliation and justice. I can only pray and wish that when my time has come, I would have lived a life only one tenth as inspirational as Mr. Mandela’s. I’d like to finish off by quoting Mr. Mandela himself:
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion … if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

The Big C

Movember has come to an end once again and we can all return to our pre-mustached lives. But for me, the reality of life and death has hit me hard. I’ve just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s in the early stages and all indications point to a slow progression that won’t require treatment for a while. It’s odd to think of a cancer growing inside me. My own body going wrong. I’m not scared anymore. I’ve accepted it as part of the journey I’m going to have take.

The reason I’ve chosen to write about it is to let people know that the Big C is real. It doesn’t just affect older people. It’s not a disease that picks and choses who it will affect. It can come at anytime. I urge everyone who is reading this to speak to their doctor about cancer screenings. Most men don’t know about or get the tests done until it’s too late.

Of my president and his supposed gay son

A story has been doing the rounds on my Facebook timeline that claims that my president has a son who has recently come out of the closet in a radio interview in England (follow this link if you’re interested). The people who have been taken in by this fiction are utterly stupid! And I’ll explain why:

1. The blog that’s hosting the article clearly states it’s satirical credentials if one bothers to look.
2. My president has three living children and none of them are called Chipape.
3. None of his children would be allowed to read for an MBA at Oxford or any other university or college in England. Those targeted sanctions have been used to keep his children studying in the East!
4. And finally, with the way the West vilifies my president, this story would be blowing up across all mainstream media and we wouldn’t have to dig through the garbage on the internet to find the alleged source.
Let’s stop and think before we post and share such utter rubbish, littering my TL!