Life Loss Love explores LGBTIQ real life narratives
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.
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Dr Lame Pusetso comes to writer’s rescue
Multi award winning author of fifteen (15) books, Dr Lame Pusetso has put together a platform to empower local writers. Dr Pusetso is a President and Chairperson of the Executive Board of Kasapa Society.
She is also the Managing Director of Poeticblood Publishers and an owner of an online bookstore dubbed Mind and Soul Bookstores. Dr Pusetso has reiterated her commitment to helping upcoming authors, writers and poets in establishing their crafts and capitalizing on them.
In an exclusive interview this week, she said that she has put together a platform dubbed Botswana Literature Awards, which have fourteen categories.
When quizzed on what the awards stand for, Dr Pusetso said “writing as a form of art in Botswana is a skill that many have and have always been exploring. As a publisher, I have met different writers from all walks of life and some indicating that there isn’t enough motivation to keep going.”
In Botswana and according to the writer, there has been a limited representation of appreciation of authors. This is despite their efforts year in year out.
The whole intention of these awards really is to honor and recognize the hard work that local authors put in, when doing what they know best (writing).
“This is a way of appreciating their creativity and we will be doing this across all genres. The awards also act as a motivational tool to young writers who still have dreams of becoming best selling authors. Quite frankly, their works are of great importance and we cannot afford to let that slide like that.”
Dr Pusetso emphasized that all the winners will walk away with an award, a certificate and complimentary gifts to take home. “The two winners of Best Overall Author and Best Young Author will in addition receive book publication deals which includes book distribution and marketing for a year.
She gave a clearer picture of how authors can be a part of the literature awards.
“The awards are open to every author from the age of 7, must be a Motswana, and their book should have been published before or by 2022. For authors with more than one book, they are allowed to compete with only one book for one category, and different books for different categories.”
The young writer pinned hope on institutional collaborations, in order to stage the second edition of the awards next year, saying “We believe with these awards, the different institutions and stakeholders will show interest in helping nurture the literature scenario in Botswana.”
“It will also give authors hope and light to keep writing and penning down their stories for the benefit of all. We anticipate to host the next edition in 2024 with assistance from all interested parties.”
THE LITERATURE AWARDS CATEGORIES
Dr Pusetso stressed that there are fourteen (14) categories, and they are: Religious or Faith Based Book, Poetry Book, Children’s Book, Multi-lingual Writer, Best Collaboration, Setswana Novel, English Novel, Motivational Book, Best Young Author (7-13), Overall Best Author, Best Theory, Best Online Writer, Best Media Writer (Honor Award) and Honor Award (Long Serving Best Author).
EXPLAINING SPECIAL AWARDS
Best Media and Honor Award, Dr Pusetso said are not based on submissions but nomination by the committee. “For Honor Award, we want to appreciate the individual who has inspired the Botswana writing scenario over the years and even assisted numerous authors as both a writer and a community leader.”
The Best Media Writer award is meant to appreciate a journalist who is actively taking part in appreciating and helping authors in marketing, advertising and affording them a platform to showcase their works through their writing skills.
Meanwhile, the Botswana Literature Awards will be held on the 29th April and they are partially sponsored through the literacy grant. This is a grant under the Botswana National Library Services which falls under the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture.
Women’s Awards hit the ground running
The second edition of the much-anticipated Women’s Awards Botswana will be going down on the 27th May 2023 in Gaborone at Travel Lodge. The organizers of the prestigious awards have announced finalists, with three nominees per category.
Women’s Awards Botswana is established to empower women and celebrate them from all walks of life and across sectors. The awards raise awareness for women to be granted equal participation, particularly in decision-making positions, as one way of breaking the gender bias.
They also seek to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women from diverse industries in Botswana. Taking a closer look at the categories, He for She award celebrates and shines a light on men who stand and support women.
These are men who advocate for inclusion of women, men who stand against GBV and men who promote any service that can better women life. Her Abilities award looks into women who have shown determination to keep moving and achieve any goal they have set for themselves, regardless of their disability.
Other awards are self-explanatory. They celebrate women in arts, culture and entertainment, agriculture, creativity, innovation and technology, tourism and hospitality, community impact as well as organization supporting women.
ORGANIZER SPEAKS ON CRITERIA USED
When speaking in an interview, Founder and Director of Women’s Awards Botswana, Bofelo Zebe, said in their first edition, they had fifteen categories, which was enough for a piloting project.
“But we left out many industries or lines of work. After the event, we received reviews and suggestions, and there was an intensive evaluation that led to us increasing the categories to eighteen for this second edition.”
He said the nominees were voted in by the public, adding that the finalists were judged by a panel with the support of votes from their supporters.
When shedding light on what winners take home, Zebe indicated that there is an award trophy, certificate and goodie bags for all categories but “we are working to have financial sponsors jump on board so that winners and nominees can receive monetary incentives. We are also busy at work trying to retain our previous sponsors.”
THE 2023 WOMEN’S AWARDS BOTSWANA NOMINEES
HE FOR SHE AWARD
Desmond Lunga, Tlhabo Kgosiemang and Christopher Seagateng
BEST WOMAN IN ARTS, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ditshupo Mosoboloko, Thanolo Keutlwile and Seneo Mabengano
HER ABILITIES AWARD
Koketso Seleke, Goabo Kgasa and Mumsie Odirile
SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Naledi Marape, Ouname Mhotsha and Keamogetse Kenosi
WOMAN FASHION DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Montle Rantatana, Lesedi Matlapeng and Trudy Bakwena
BEST WOMAN IN AGRICULTURE
Nomathemba Masuku, Basadi Molelekeng and Keolebogile Keabetswe
BEST WOMAN IN CREATIVITY, INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Marang Mbaakanyi, Didintle Moreki and Thandeka Palai
BEST WOMAN IN TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY
Masego Keleadile, Wapula Matshambane and Tshepo Phokoje
YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Bridget Gothaang, Waone Makobo and Kimberly Matheakgomo
WOMAN OWNED SME BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Suits Africa, Nomlu Nail Bar and Sunflower Desserts
BEST WOMAN OWNED BUSINESS
Prezlin Clothing and Dawn Bell Academy
FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Mpho Sebina, Dato Seiko and Priscilla K
BEST ORGANIZATION SUPPORTING WOMEN
Sekao Foundation, The Fighters Support Group and Single Mothers Living with HIV
BEST WOMAN WITH COMMUNITY IMPACT
Lebopo Bulayani, Nanzelela Chaitezvi and Kebadile Wasenda
MEDIA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Poppy Sello, Keikantse Shumba and Kedi Lezozo
FAVOURITE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Marang Selolwane, Palesa Molefe and Masi Sithole
BEST WOMAN IN LEADERSHIP
Naseem Lahri, Neo Bogatsu and Lily Rakorong
AMANDA BLACK RETURNS TO SELF WITH NEW SINGLE “NGUWE”
“NGUWE” SETS THE TONE TO HER FORTH STUDIO ALBUM
Johannesburg, Friday, 17th March 2022- ” Amanda Black returns with her signature mix of Afro Pop, hip hop, R&B, and deeply-rooted Xhosa influences to deliver an inspirational message of returning to self and self-love with her new single “Nguwe” .
Available all digital platforms.
The single comes as Amanda Black gears up to release her forth studio album, featuring new songs with her signature sound infusing R&B Soul and tribal African melodies. As she grows and discovers herself as an individual, a spiritual being and a musician, Amanda is on a journey of self-discovery. The music reflects on the better and more hopeful space she has come to in this journey, the single “Nguwe” sets the tone and follows the theme of the upcoming album. The music is about falling in love with self , honoring yourself by self-acceptance. The overall theme and message is spiritual reconnection and trusting herself with her music.
Surfacing in 2016, that album was certified platinum a scant three weeks after its release and went on to earn Black numerous nominations and awards – including three South Africa Music Awards, two Metro Awards and a BET International Artist Of The Year nomination.
Most importantly, Amazulu’s mix of Afro Pop, hip hop, R&B, and deeply-rooted Xhosa influences secured Black a devoted fanbase that stretched right across the country. These music lovers quickly embraced her gift for telling authentic coming-of-age African stories through songs that touched on the universal experiences of love and heartbreak, of finding and losing yourself, of having hopes and dealing with fears.
But, in the background, Black was discovering that the road to becoming a fulltime artist wasn’t easy – even one marked by commercial and critical success straight out of the gate.
Of course, when she began singing in church as a child growing up in the Eastern Cape, and even when she studied Music Education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Black never imagined it would all be plain sailing. She knew there was no guarantee that, when she boarded a Greyhound bus headed for Johannesburg, she would return home with a story of success to tell. Too many talented musicians from her home town had made that same journey but had never returned – an experience captured with poignant insight on “Bayile”, one of Power’s standout tracks.
Still, Black never expected she’d have to expend so much energy standing up for her artistic rights after she’d become one of South Africa’s most popular and awarded artists. There was even a moment when she thought, “what am I doing this for?”. “The music industry is not what it looks like from the outside,” the 25-year-old says, with just a flash of emotion. “Becoming a singer is not what you imagine. It’s a lot harder and a lot deeper. At that time, I asked myself, ‘do you even still love music’. I truly didn’t know if I could continue to keep fighting to be treated with respect and fairness. There was a part of me that thought maybe music should just be a hobby – that I should just return to that happy place where I play my music and sing, for myself, my family and my community and it feels good.”
But, in spite of feeling helpless and hopeless at times, deep down Black knew that she still adored this thing called music; that the dream she’s always had, of doing something that can change the world and heal people, remained intact. And so she went to the one place where she knew she could move through the dark and into the light and start writing music again: home.
“My family is like my compass,” Black says, her words laced with gratitude and love. “They are always there to support me, especially my mom. Whenever I go home, it’s to recharge. I can honestly say that being there is like getting my superpower back.”
Alongside allowing her to feel the energetic power of her roots and the love of her family, being home enabled Black to make sense of the journey she’d travelled so far. She’d learnt to play and write on the guitar at 16 and, as part of reclaiming the purity of her love for making music, she returned to the instrument within the safety of home. “The sound of the guitar soothes me, and it reminds of when I would write and play music with no conditions, with no expectations,” she says. Black also began working with the beats and melodies that she has on her phone, freestyling lyrics with no judgement or editing, letting her spirit feel its way forward through singing and playing and imagining.
With a renewed sense of her creative being propelling her, Black returned to Johannesburg. There she embarked on process of making Power and establishing her new label Afro Rockstar, in partnership with Sony Music. Power is a mix of autobiographical songs – a highlight is the light-hearted “Egoli” – and others, like first single “Thandwa Ndim”, that see Black giving impactful voice to the experiences of women in the current socio-political moment. The album features several love songs including “Lemme Go” and “Love Again”, and includes the stunning “Hamba”, a song about being thirsty for life, love, hope and happiness that features a chorus sampled from Margaret Singana’s “Hamba Bhekile” off “Shaka Zulu”.
Power sees Black once more working with producer Christer Kobedi and the album also has a special collaboration with keyboardist and producer, Kenneth Crouch. In the end, it’s an album of inspiration, of motivation and of integrity. As the next musical calling card of a South African global artist in-the-making, it’s breath-taking and is poised to bring Black back to where she belongs: performing beautiful music for music lovers everywhere