A digital photography project dubbed Life Loss Love aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer persons in Botswana; despite the widespread misconception they have basic protections.
First things first, LGBTIQ people worldwide continue to face stigma and discrimination especially in the health care. Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, a human right recognized in an international human rights law through multiple United Nations treaties and reflected in national level legislation in many countries.
Even with the recognition of the right to health of every human being, LGBTIQ people are still subjected to stigma and discrimination, leading to disparities in access to, quality and availability of health care services. LGBTIQ people are denied services, experience discrimination by healthcare professionals who are unaware of health concerns particular to the LGBTIQ community.
Criminalization of same-sex relationships and punitive laws against LGBTIQ individuals further exacerbate negative health outcomes of the LGBTIQ community. Partners of the LGBTIQ in Nigeria, where homosexuality is criminalized and punishment includes death by stoning, reported that due to the climate of fear and repression they did not access the medical care they needed because they were afraid of being arrested or facing violence.
Homophobia and Tran’s phobia, both internalized and experienced, and social stigma, contribute to isolation and discrimination against LGBTIQ people, having long term impacts on mental health and well-being. Reports highlight that the LGBTIQ community face higher incidence of anxiety, depression, HIV and suicidal thoughts than heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
Those who are not out, are forced to remain closeted, or do not have social support may experience more severe mental health issues. Mental health is still an emerging issue in many parts of the world leading to inadequately systems and services available to the LGBTIQ community, who often need these services too.HIV continues to be pervasive among key populations including transgender women and men who have sex with men.
Trends point to increased incidences of HIV transmission among young gay men. While these populations may experience higher exposure to HIV risk, countries continually fail to provide sufficient health care resources to both curb transmission rates as well as provide affordable and accessible treatment and services.In an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, Life Loss Love project coordinator Bradley Fortuin said stigma and discrimination towards LGBTIQ individuals is still a major challenge in Botswana and it goes unaddressed. ‘’this affects every aspect of daily life of these people; at family level, school and work environments, personal relationships, faith and even spiritually. LGBTIQ people often have to hide their true identity, thoughts and feelings just to survive and fit in.
when the Botswana High Court decriminalised homosexuality in 2019, this saw a big obstacle being removed. LGBTIQ people expected they would be assimilated into mainstream society. However, the reality is that decriminalisation did not end exclusion, stigma and discrimination as there are still human rights violations. Sexual and gender minorities in Botswana still experience unjust treatment, harassment, rape and other physical assaults’’ he told Weekend Life reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang.
He further said the digital photography aims to explore the various real life narratives of LGBTIQ people, highlighting the intersections with other movements like the Women’s movement and the Disability movement. It draws attention to various societal issues from body positivity, same-sexual affection, religion, spirituality and faith, promoting topics around sex positivity, rape culture and toxic masculinity. ‘’marginalization often happens through the interplay of culture, beliefs and history. We can be subjected to discrimination in many forms.
As one of the subjects of this first series of images, Life Loss Love shows chapters of my own personal journey; from being sexually assaulted as a child by a family friend for being ‘’too girly’’ and feminine, to being told that my being gay was punished by God through the death of my mother. It is a testament of triumph, courage and forgiveness.it is about finding love, belonging and encouraging everyone to live their truth.’’
Fortuin stressed that he collaborated with Lame Dilotsotlhe, who is behind the lenses for this first edition, adding that to date; he has worked with 5 LGBTIQ identifying persons locally. ‘’This project is for all, and i will have to carry it out every quarter of the year. If people are interested they can contact us via instagram @lifelosslovebw.’’ When answering a question I probed about the inspiration behind the name, Fortuin underlined that ‘’life is a journey and we come across all kinds of situations, experiences that break us down, that mould us and those that make us stronger to be able to rise above all challenges.
All these experiences can be divided into life, loss and love. The name also came from my personal life’s journey and battle with my sexuality, having to deal with it and the impact that exclusion has had my mental and physical health. But also, I have had great life experiences; I have lived and experienced love in many forms, which has made me appreciate the lessons learned and my purpose in life.’’
Meanwhile, from Botswana to Barbados, Botswana’s ruling to decriminalising gay sex case made it key legal fights that will dominate LGBTIQ news in 2020. At number one, The U.S Supreme court is due to rule before June as to whether LGBTIQ people are protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination at work. Access to bathrooms for transgender students and lawsuits against the Pentagon over HIV-positive military personnel who were dismissed or banned from deployment are also hot-button topics where rulings are expected.
Number two: Botswana. A ruling is expected on a government appeal against a High Court ruling in June last year to decriminalise gay sex, making Botswana one of a handful of African countries to accept same-sex relations.Singapore’s High Court could rule on decriminalisation of gay sex this year. At least three men have filed cases arguing the law is unconstitutional or violates human dignity.
Jamaica is at number four. The Caribbean island’s colonial-era sodomy laws are being challenged by a petition lodged at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Any ruling would not be binding, but decriminalisation could cause waves in the region. Legal challenges to colonial ‘’buggery laws’’ have been launched or planned in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.
A law punishing sex between men with life imprisonment in Barbados was challenge din 2018 with a petition to the IACHR, which has asked the government to respond. If the commission recommends reform and the government refuses to implement it, the matter could be referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.With two cases filed in Hong Kong, same-sex marriage could become a key issue in the city, where homosexuality has been decriminalised since 1991, despite an October ruling that there was no obligations to allow LGBTIQ unions.
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Kenya has appealed against a High Court ruling in May to maintain the ban on gay sex, punishable by 14 years in jail. A hearing date has yet to be set. In Europe, the European Court of Human Rights is reviewing the case of a gay man who said he was persecuted in Chechnya and holding an inquiry into a wave of arrests in 2017 of LGBTIQ people in Azerbaijan.
It goes without saying that men and women handle pain differently. Especially emotional pain. Men tend to be more emotionally immature compared to women when it comes to matters of the heart.
It is for this reason that men do not handle break ups or cheating as well as their counterparts. Where women have been groomed from a young age to express their emotions men have been told to “suck it up and be a man”. This may be one of the reasons why men are unable to express their emotions. It’s therefore that it can be a tad bit surprising that men cheat the most but are the weakest to deal when cheated on.
Research has proven that men find it difficult to digest being cheated on. British Psychotherapist, Philip Hodson opines that men find it hard to forgive cheating because it affects their masculinity, and to them, it might signal the end of the relationship.
“Men can forgive themselves for their indiscretions, but they find it much harder to forgive their partners for the same. For a betrayed woman, an affair by a man is an offence against her dignity, but for a betrayed man, a woman’s infidelity is an offence against his manhood. It goes right to the core of his identity,” said Hodson.
WeekendLife also interviewed a few gentlemen on their honest feeling about being cheated and if they find it hard to forgive their partners after cheating. Tinashe Mangiroza said, “From the beginning, men are designed with the potential to have and to reproduce with many spouses. Women on the other hand are more or less designed to focus on one man. Along with this natural design, women have stronger pain tolerance. Yes women feel pain when cheated on, but their tolerance is much higher than that of a man (in view of what I said above).”
“And men on the other hand have a low emotional pain tolerance, hence the higher suicide and murder rates among men. Then remember there’s also the ego element which men have. So when you combine a big ego, low pain tolerance and other things such as selfishness and competing with other men, it almost ends a man’s self-worth when a woman he loves decides to sleep with another man.”
He admits to have been cheated on before which he said it took away his self-esteem and he had to sleep around as a way of easing the pain whilst waiting to heal. Another gentleman who was also cheated at some point, Monwabisi Ndumiso Mgenge, highlighted that when a woman cheated on him it becomes very difficult for him to take her back because loyalty is everything to him.
“This is because most of the times relationship involves sex. You see the person naked you enjoy that, you don’t want anybody having what you have. You are emotionally invested and have imagined the future many times and this is why some get violent cause its trauma really.”
Psychologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye said, “when it comes to marriage, men and women see things differently. He pointed out that a man tends to see the woman as possession, and so, the moment somebody else tries to cross the boundary and interferes with his property, there is bound to be serious problem.”
“So, it is not because women don’t care or they forgive so easily, but the circumstances don’t favour them as they favour men. If women were in a dominant position, they easily would have driven the man away. So, the moment a female has committed herself to marriage, for her to voluntarily and openly get out of it becomes a kind of stigma, and women cannot handle stigma, particularly where children are involved. Mothers would not want to walk away, unless it’s beyond their powers, thus they would rather endure.”
Thabiso Cavin Bogopa, an Empowerment Expert also shared with WeekendLife that men are wired different from women hence their response to cheating won’t be the same. “What may prove to be a difficulty in men forgiving cheating is that, generally speaking men sleep with who they can, women sleep with who they want, so the overarching thing becomes she cheated with her desire, the person she is actually attracted to and the cheated man struggles with that truth, as he realizes that sex for him is opportunity based, while for his counterpart is a deliberate and conscious choice.
This to a certain extent is what forms the challenge for men,” he explained. “Cheating devalues an individual both the cheater and cheated on, but more profoundly manifest in the cheated as they start to decrease in their self-esteem, losing their regard for themselves as they are undermined they may begin to try to address this trauma in multiple ways but more commonly through being exactly what they detest because they are stuck in the experience, they therefore cheat and become messed up.”
“No one gets away with cheating even if you never get caught, you become depleted as a person by the lies, trickery and illicit emotional trade. But if we may, the choice to forgive a cheating partner is a personal choice that goes both ways.”
It takes more than just having the body for the ramp to be an “it girl/boy” in the industry. A lot hows into being the cream de la cream. This includes intense coaching and being fortified to thrive in Botswana’s modelling industry as well as making a name for yourself beyond boarders.
No doubt that the likes of Kaone Kario, Mmina Gaebonwe and Emmanuel Kayenda are household names today because of their well-crafted talent. Which needs to be passed on even to aspiring models. Raymond Geofrey an Editor and Content Creator at Vogue magazine who is also known for his Pan African story telling through photography, shared with WeekendLife about what it means and what it takes to be an all-round model, who is capacitated to make a living from their craft.
“Models need good etiquette and good communication especially when dealing with clients reaching to them. They should be able to professionally communicate with them. They need to be efficient in their communication. Professionalism also entails time management during bookings, shootings and auditions. Models should always be early by 1 hour 30 minutes. Enquire about contracts and make contact with consultants. This also include seeking legal advice,” he said.
“Models should have business cards and business WhatsApp numbers. They should possess a good social media account such as Facebook pages with clear biographies. Posts should be sponsored.” Knowing how to transcend the ramp as a model is one of the things that is always a big deal to models and agencies. Geofrey highlighted that models ultimately must know how to walk spectacularly on the runway. When it comes to posing, models are often expected to kill it and bring their A game which in turn will help shine their personality.
Geofrey said models do not take time to read and study as well as research about posing. The more models are confident the more they are able to bring out their personalities on the shoot. He said self-awareness is also imperative, as models are required to be aware of themselves. When wearing heels and walking down the ramp, they should catwalk to the beat.
When it comes to the modelling industry in Botswana, they normally complain about numerous things which are pushing the industry backward. One of these he said is industrialization and policy making, the most lacking and key factors in need in the sector. “The modelling industry in Botswana is still not industrialized that is there are no laws or policies currently in Botswana to govern the trade of modelling in Botswana. Modelling is still not a legal registered profession in Botswana,” he said.
“Affiliation of local agencies to global/international modelling agencies; we have seen a rise in business revenue with regards to fashion modelling in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya etc, due to the fact that they are exporting a larger number of models overseas to walk at fashion shows like Paris Fashion Week. This is simply because they have affiliations, partnerships with agents/bookers/agencies based in fashion capitals of the world (Paris, London, Milan & New York).”
Lack of etiquette which he said is rather unprofessional, is one of the things that hold back local models. “A lot of models in the country still walk unranked at shows (New faces, freelance, full time, professional, international model etc). Also models lack training in the art of modelling (posing, runway, social media training, and business acumen.”
In the age of brand ambassadors, models have been key in this aspect in making brands known and marketable. Even so, they are many slots that define and categorize modelling work. “Fashion models are usually booked for shows or by designers. Editorial are more for official print/brand work such as for magazines (print/online), websites, blogs etc. Commercial are more on promoting business services of institutions, government or the private sector (including banking institutions, insurance, services providers etc). Fitness models are for promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, we see them booked by professionals sports/athletes/gym brands or the food & health industry (what is popular now is supplements such as herbal life),” he explained.
Like other countries, where models are paid a leg and an arm, the same should be incorporated in Botswana instead of exploiting them. “By respecting what models do and bring to the table; and you do that by paying them what they deserve on time,” Geofrey said. Geofrey is currently running classes for models called ‘Etiquette Class Models’ which offers runway coaching. It equips models with different types of walks. They also offer social media training and mentoring on running as a model entrepreneur.
Thabiso Tshwenyana is certainly a bright spark. He has been hitting the books, at the same time pushing hustle on radio! Well, you may not know who I’m talking about right now unless I refer to him as ‘Lerapo’, or ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’, as he is commonly called by his aficionados on radio.
Lerapo is resolute on taking over the entertainment and broadcasting space, of course wearing many hats as a radio host, content producer and a socialite. Not only that, he is a fresh Real Estate graduate currently functioning as a property analyst.
One may wonder how this young lad (currently 23-years-old) managed to be on radio, at the same time pursuing his Degree in Real Estate. Well, he says it took grit, time management and really doing what one likes. And he is right, because in today’s world anyone can call themselves a presenter. But it takes unparalleled skill, unbreakable determination, and heaps of talent to captivate an audience of millions.
Whether or not you think he’s the best, there’s no arguing that Lerapo is possibly the most prominent young radio presenter to hail from the Botswana. Initially starting his career in 2017, Lerapo earned himself a reputation as ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’ by consistently pushing the boundaries of what could be said and done.
His shows consists of outrageous humor and youthful content that’s shocking the radio establishment, and taking young people to cloud 9. The show is called The Youth Café on Duma FM, and airs every Saturday between 2PM and 2PM, broadcasting in vernacular.
When sharing with Weekendlife his startling life on radio and how he will be turning it down this year, he says the journey started back in 2017 at RB2 where he hosted a 30-minute feature. “I am definitely a go-getter. I love radio and this has been my childhood dream! I held onto this dream and survived against all odds. I am happy to be on radio because after all the knockings, snubs and distressing coercions, I persisted nonetheless. Sometimes it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”
Before joining Duma FM in 2019, he was a content producer at yet another youthful urban radio station Yarona FM. At the age of 23-years old, Lerapo has worked at three radio stations, both government and private urban stations. Remarkable! For someone aspiring to be on radio, I can confidently say he is the pluq for inspiration and familiarity.
He continued to dish more on what radio really needs, saying “Taking time to perfect the craft, being open to learn from others and just digging down on books and the internet on how radio works did magic to me. It became easier to comprehend fully what I needed and how to go about getting it.”
Being a radio presenter means having a whole team prior to going on air. This means having a show prep, and reflecting on how the show went down with your producers or programs manager. Programs manager handles the business of the radio station and leave the voice and personality to the presenter.
Presenters have to follow rules of the programs manager even if they may not see eye-to-eye. They may prefer to play safe and repeat music even though sometimes a presenter prefers to take a risk and make changes to the music. Nevertheless, the success of the radio station lies in programs manager’s hands.
“After a show I usually have a reflection on how it went then I plan for the next show. On Tuesdays I have what we call an ‘air check’ with either the programs manager or his assistant to identify hiccups on the previous show and see how best to work on them to have a great delivery on the next show. Since I produce my own show, I give them a preliminary show prep. Once approved, I start contacting guests to be featured on the show and later share the final show prep a day before the show airs with the bosses.”
Still on his show, he does live reads. These are paid adverts that he discusses with the marketing department prior to his show going live. Well, as for a sizzling playlist, the music compiler knows how to serve him right.
He says a great radio hosts listens, reads and makes a show about the listener. ‘A common mistake we make as radio hosts is that we make the show about us and tend to feel that we know more than the listener. We also ought to respect the listener, these are our clients after all. Radio hosts should also refrain from relying on social media for content, most of it is fake and unverified by relevant authorities.”