IDAHOT Report 2014: South Africa

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South Africa

In South Africa, various community groups organised actions for the IDAHOT in at least five cities (Cape Town, Malmesbury, Johannesburg, Durban and KwaZulu Natal). The events embraced topics such as Freedom of Expression, homo-, trans- and xenophobia, HIV/AIDS, progressive voices of faith, and LGBTI community pride. Actions included film screenings, panel discussions, the start of building a new community center, music and theatre performances, poems and public marches.

In Johannesburg, leading LGBTI rights and arts organisation, Iranti-org, held an event which highlighted the importance of the 2014 global focus on Freedom of Expression. Together with several LGBTI organisations such Transgender Intersex Africa (TIA), Vutha LGBTI (in the Vaal region), and Uthingo-Daveyton, and in cooperation with Constitution Hill in Johannesburg they organised an event with panel discussions, art performances, such as poems and spoken words, a documentary screening and music.
You can watch a video report of the IDAHOT 2014 in Johannesburg here:

The event took place on May 17 at the Old Fort Prison at Constitution Hill, where anti-apartheid activists were detained for their activism. Events consisted of the following programme:

• Registration and welcome – Cindy Molefe: Director of the Programme
• Opening and Welcoming: Emilia Potenza
• Poems by: Lindo Miya, Maureen Velile Majola
• Screening: Protected, yet not free! A documentary from Iranti-org
• Panel Discussion – Panel Moderator: Cindy Molefe – Speakers: Thomas Ndayiragije, IGLHRC – Gugu Mandla, Iranti-org – Steve Letsike, Anova Health Institute – Phindi Malaza, FEW – Deliwe Qwabe, Traditional Healer – Mosa Mahlangu, TIA – Constant Ngwenya, Traditional Healer
– Madoda Sibeko-Bishop, Sufficient Grace Ministries Church – Summary of the discussion: Jabu Pereira
• Lunch
• Interactive messaging and photos
• Entertainment: Poetry and Music
• Sika
• Maureen Velile Majola
• Gabriel Hoosain Khan
• Selogadi Mampane: And All The Children of the Rainbow Shed Tears
• Bianca, performer
• Open mic
• Closure and vote of thanks

The 15-minute documentary ‘Protected Yet Not Free’, which was produced by iranti-org focused on bodily and gender expression of young lesbian students at Phomolong School, who were suspended for wearing pants. The other key areas of the documentary focus on a young lesbian woman, Deliwe Qwabe, who trained as a traditional healer, and believes that the visibility of her sexuality is integral to her traditional values.
The panel discussion afterwards discussed the issues raised in the documentary and highlighted the importance of the documentary as a tool for education about LGBTI rights and as an advocacy tool for outreach to communities and to government. Part of the discussion was also the potential regression of rights for LGBTI persons and of freedom of expression. In the spoken word and music session which followed, queer performing artists challenged gender norms and violence and celebrated diversity and freedom.
Prior to May 17, iranti-org team had conducted interviews with traditional, cultural and religious leaders, with a focus on religious freedom and the right to one’s sexual orientation and gender expression. The digital stories were presented at the event on May 17.

Jacob Jones performs their Hit song Drag Queen. Photo by: Lebo Ntladi Source: Iranti-org
Jacob Jones performs their hit song Drag Queen. Photo by: Lebo Ntladi. Source: Iranti-org

Cape Town
In solidarity with the worldwide International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia commemorations, a team of creative artists, directors and coordinators put together a project, called ‘theodrama’ which brings together art, drama and spirituality. The performance addresses homo-, trans- and xenophobia as well as HIV/AIDS and consisted of installation, performance art, and storytelling, multimedia and live choral music. It was interactive and elicited emotional responses.
“Other” – a sacred journey from exile to belonging, forms Part 1 in a trilogy of theodramas, and was presented on May 16 and 17, and took place at the Centre for Christian Spirituality in Cape Town. The play was presented with support from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries and Gender DynamiX and had a turn-over of 65 in the two nights.

What is “theodrama”? Is it theatre? Is it dialogue? A workshop? Worship? Protest, therapy, circus? Art? Yes, it is.

Theodrama South Africa 3
Theodrama South Africa 2

Theodrama South Africa 4
‘Theodrama’ in Cape Town for IDAHOT 2014.

A few of the reactions received:
“One of the most powerful stagings I’ve seen in a long time” – Fahiem Stellenboom, marketing manager, Baxter Theatre, Cape Town
“It was so beautiful! It was like – world class! There was much love in the space.”
– Susan Groves, core process therapist
“Het baie baie gehou van ‘Other!” – Niël le Roux, previous director, Suidoosterfees
“Thanks so much for Friday night’s presentation. We felt very privileged to be there and enjoyed this excellent ‘installation‘ – so much to think about and such honest and vulnerable storytelling. Deeply moving. Keep going!!!” – Robert Steiner, minister, Rondebosch United Church
The Upper Room Communion, with the support of PFLAG – Same Love, Durban Lesbian and Gay Contact Centre / Durban Pride, KZN Bears, Durban International LGBT Film Festival and Durban GALTA (Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association) organised the ‘IDAHOT 2014 Beach Walk’, a march along the beachfront of Durban, which highlighted the global theme Freedom of Expression. The participants and organisers of the walk also expressed their solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, Uganda and elsewhere in Africa where the rights to Freedom of Expression for LGBTI people are under serious attack.
IDAHOT 2014 in Durban, South Africa. Source: The Upper Room Communion

The Gay & Lesbian Network in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal also celebrated IDAHOT with a march on May 17. The procession started at Freedom Square on Church Street, and ended at the KZN Museum on Loop Street. The march stood as a strong symbol of pride for LGBTI communities.

Upon arrival at the museum, an open mic session was on the go. Poets, musicians and dancers took to the stage to commemorate this historic day of the year. Perfomances included a cover of Beyonce’s Drunk in love hit by a local band, Petunia and the Mob. A 21y/o Durban based social blogeer, Sandy Nene was the keynote speaker. He advised his fellow homosexuals on the importance of owning up to their rights and responsibility could pave a way for a more accepting and supporting environment. Playing a role in the societal initiatives would create a sound visibility and acknowledgement of homosexuals within the communities.

The Gay & Lesbian Network is a LGBT organisation that works for the rights and support of LGBT people in and around KwaZulu Natal.

Source: Gay & Lesbian Network

The start of constructing a new community centre in the city of Malmesbury – 30 minutes North of Cape Town –  called ‘CALEM Rumi’s Isiphephelo’ was launched on May 17. Run by CALEM, the ‘Confederation of Associations LGBT, Euro-Africans or Muslims’, the centre will become the first international, inclusive, self-sustainable Muslims’ centre (an inclusive mosque, a refugees’ shelter & a progressive imam-es training institute) in South Africa.
The goal of the center is to ‘promote empowerment, learning, sharing and freedom’. It will provide refuge for healing from persecution trauma, and will welcome, train and empower vulnerable individuals, especially LGBT people from a Muslim background, with a priority for those coming from the Middle-East and Africa, and for those thrown out of their homes, communities or countries because of their sexual orientation. The centre will also welcome and train HIV positive individuals, and women from a Muslim background, in need of support, who are discriminated because of their HIV status or gender. The centre is scheduled to be ready and open by mid-June 2014.
Promotional material for the new community centre ‘CALEM RUMI’s Isiphephelo’, launched May 17, 2014.

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