By: Emmanuel Munyarukumbuzi
A broad coalition of African lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning and intersex(LGBTQI+) activists, continental grassroots organizations, and allies, are preparing a virtual queer event, dubbed Pride Afrique.
Organisers want to celebrate, and uplift LGBTQI+ persons and groups across the African continent and in the diaspora. Volunteer Nnanna Ikpo says, “Pride Afrique was inspired by the need and the gap in sharing the three dimensional stories of African queer persons at home and in the diaspora. There was a need for a balance of stories. Global media has been flooded with the narrative of a completely homophobic and hopeless Africa. We are never in the news or discusses until the Hollywood script of dusty, poverty stricken, hungry Africa where queer men are only ever lynched, and queer women, children, professionals, healers, artists, parents are invisible, erased.”
The three-day Pan-African event will take place on August 14 – 16, 2020. Pride Afrique will be a twohour live broadcast of powerful storytelling experiences and performances featuring the most critical voices on Africa’s LGBTIQ issues.
Organizers say, “It aims to spotlight LGBTQI Africans creating change in the grassroots despite the harsh realities on their various communities. There will be intergenerational and intersectional conversations to empower the audience.”
The show will broadcast daily at 7 pm local time, through multiple digital media contents in Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. It is intended to attract the participation and attendance of queer people in Africa, queer African families, allies, corporate and non-governmental organizations, government institutions, all Africans and their friends worldwide.
Some of the confirmed participants include the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, John Amaechi, the first former NBA player to come out, and South Africa’s Jabu Pereira, Director of LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Iranti.
“There is a bustling, multi-layered, chaotically explosive reservoir of African queer narratives that world ignores. And because these stories do not get enough light, they do not travel far. So now we are coming together, calling on all queer stories, we are building our own light, and weaving the rainbow kente in the glare of the sun.
Come and see the billion other things that you become, because of your queerness and even in spite of it,” Ikpo concluded.
Emmanuel Munyarukumbuzi spoke to organizer Kehinde Bademosi about how Pride Afrique came about.
What is the whole event about, and why do queer Africans need it?
It’s about the three-dimensional stories of LGBTQI+ Africans at home and abroad. We hope to center our voices on significant issues to the continent.
By showcasing our history and our journeys, we can inspire the generations coming after us to reach for the sky, irrespective of their identities. We believe a young person is listening or watching, and we are hoping to let them know that they are worthy.
How did the virtual Pride idea come about – COVID-19 related innovation or avoiding persecution?
COVID came with an opportunity to democratise access to resources and events that were previously only possible for those who could afford to travel. With the advent of a post-COVID virtual space, Pride Afrique gives LGBTQI+ Africa a virtual space to tell our own stories as a tool of advocacy and selfpreservation.
As someone who had never seen Pride before relocating to the United States, I had always thought no one should be denied the joy of Pride because of where they live. Pride Afrique is only a start.
Who is putting things together, where are they located, and how did they all come together?
It was a call that started on Facebook Messenger. Once I saw the opportunity of what we could do, I reached out to David and Udoye in Nigeria, Kevin in Kenya, Gabriel from Brazil, Segun in South Africa, Miss Sahhara, and John in the UK; and Dolapo in the US.
We immediately created a Google document for open-source collaboration. Within four weeks, the open document had received over 54 contributions from across the continent and from abroad. We then conducted a Google survey for areas of interest. We now have over 75 partners working on various committees and tasks to make this happen.
The website says you are not receiving monetary sponsorship. Why? And how do you run such an event with no funds?
Because we need to change the narrative that when Africa steps on the scene we are looking for money. This is a self-advocacy event. Run and fully funded by the communities. Pride Afrique is 100% volunteer-driven. All items have been contributed in kind by all volunteers.
How can individuals and companies lend a helping hand?
Pride Afrique is 100% volunteerdriven. Join us — pitch in your talent and gift. Write. Edit. Design. Help with IT. Promote. Translate. And there is so much we can do together. We want organisations to send us support videos that LGBTQI lives matter in Africa.
More information is on social media (#PrideAfrique2020 hashtag or @PrideAfrique handle on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and on www.prideafrique.org.