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Lamodimo on life as a transgender

lamodimo

Being born different can be one of the most derailing things. Having to keep up with glares from strangers, simply because you are different can be stressful and hard to get used to.

Transgender persons find themselves having to explain themselves, simply because how they identify themselves is totally different from their gender. As complex as it gets, intersex people find themselves with complications as their sexual anatomy does not seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

For some, this can take them straight to an emotional break down. As for the 19 year Lamodimo Thondo Baitsiwe, she has chosen to be honest to herself. As other parents may find it very difficult to accept and raise their children the same unique way they were made, she openly shared that her mother has been a pillar in her life. Her mother also raised her as a girl child and did everything in her power to ensure she is comfortable and well treated.

Baitsiwe said that she noticed she was different from the other kids around her at the age of four years. “I noticed that I was different when I was 4 years old. I was bathing with my female cousins and I began to ask myself so many questions. As to why my body does not look like theirs while I am a girl. I was left with so many unanswered questions.”

“Since I had my mother’s support she made sure that I wasn’t bullied at school. I remember one time my mother went to school and told my teachers that her baby is different and they should cater for me and they must take me to the girl’s rooms whenever we are embarking on school trips. That made me feel loved and appreciated. I felt so unique and accepting myself wasn’t that hard,” she said.

Being born a transgender can be deemed ‘unusual’ by society when they are not well informed. Which she explained that a lot of people confuse transgender people with intersex which are totally different. In her own definition she said intersex is being born with characteristics of a male and a female.

“The challenge that I am currently facing is my gender marker on my official documents such as my Omang. Everything it is a challenge because I have to explain myself each and every time. I am required to issue my Omang because what people see differs from what is written on my ID. Most of the people that I’ve met did not give me any problems after hearing me out. I can’t complain.’’

“In my home village where i grew up, people are surprised because of the way I’ve turned out to be. They be like ‘kante Lamodimo gase mosimane’ and my mother is always there to give everyone an explanation to what i am currently going through.” Sometimes they find themselves thrown into the deep end, but she said they are given immense support to keep them afloat all times.

“In terms of mental health, yes a lot is being done in order for us to get psychological support. There are psychologists in Princess Marina who have assisted transgender and intersex persons and they are still assisting them. I applaud our government for that.

When it comes to organizations that advocates for transgender rights e.g. Rainbow Identity Association, they have come up with an initiative to assist transgender people when it comes to their mental health by getting in touch with private hospital and sensitising them on such issues for example Always Open clinic in KB Mall is also giving a helping hand,” she said.

Relationships

While other transgender people find it very difficult to find partners who can accept them for who they are, she has never encountered any challenges in relationships as she has always met supportive partners.

“When it comes to relationships there are men out there who are purely attracted to transgender women and they are willing to be there for them at all times. I have a very supportive and caring boyfriend and I am looking forward to being his lawfully wedded wife. Actually we are both looking forward to that,” she said.

Rainbow Identity Association on Transgender & Intersex people’s mental health

Advocacy and Media Officer of Rainbow Identity Association (RIA), Urbenia Kgwarae explained that unlike Baitsiwe, many transgender and intersex people find themselves having mental issues due to stigma and other societal issues.

“Like many people under the LGBTIQ+ banner, intersex and transgender people experience a higher incidence of mental health issues, self-harm and suicide, along with higher than average rates of poverty, disability, and lower participation in higher education. This is as a result of a social phenomenon called ‘minority stresses. Minority stress describes the social and emotional impact that comes from being marginalized or discriminated against.”

Kgwarae further stated that people should not default to thinking that these problems come due to how the persons are born. “It is therefore important to shift understanding from the assumption that being intersex or transgender somehow essentially causes these problems, to placing the responsibility with society. Social and mental difficulties arise as a response to social hostility, rather than being somehow distinctively consequential.

As such, it is the job of mental health professionals to support their intersex and transgender clients, and to shift attitudes in society.” Kgwarae said. “Due to the legacy of pathologisation (representing something as a disease) that is attached to intersex and transgender conditions, and societal perception that there is something ‘wrong’ with intersex and transgender people, rather than simply understanding intersex and transgender status as a simple and natural variation of the human body and gender identity, intersex and transgender people often experience stigma and shame.”

“This stigma can have a powerful impact on family dynamics, and result in intersex and transgender people finding themselves either estranged from family members, or the source of family conflict. Under such circumstances, offering mediation can be an appropriate solution as long as it is the desire of the intersex and transgender person which RIA is currently doing and call the entire nation to join them in doing so by being supportive and accepting of the intersex and transgender people.”

WeekendLife

The King’s journal 

23rd November 2021
Kgafela Kgafela II

This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.

The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.

The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.

The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.   

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WeekendLife

Gospel concerts make a comeback

16th November 2021
Bishop Benjamin Dube

Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene. 

The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances. 

The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.” 

Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”

The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.

I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”

Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.

In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.

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WeekendLife

Fame vs Mental health

9th November 2021
Lizibo

One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?

However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.

To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.

He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”

Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.

Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.

Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”

He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.

He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”

Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”

Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.

He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”

The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”

Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.

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