Another week in Joburg – I am growing to love this place – the buzz, people I meet, things happening, the edge, living and working with dedicated front-line activists and friends I have made. Yet at the same time there are aspects of the city and South African that irritate and thoroughly piss me off – my curtailed freedom to move about particularly after dark, the high risk activity of being outside your house – security security security, parks that you cannot use for fear of being mugged, the xenophobia, the marginalisation of the majority of the population, a government that has betrayed what it stood for and the people’s hopes, dreams and struggle, the unhealed wounds that stare you in the face.
Last night was the opening night of the Out in African Gay and Lesbian film festival which was in cinema in Hyde Park mall – all these London names – last week I stayed in Fulham Rd in Brixton near Mayfair. Back to the film – Beautiful Boxer [Thailand] and what a beautiful film based on a true story of champion Thai Kick boxer, Parinya Charoenphol.
The film chronicles his life as a young boy through his transgender process to becoming a woman, all the while studying and becoming a champion in the art in order to save up for his operation. In the IMDB the reviewer refers to the “collision of testosterone and oestrogen”. The overlaying of genders and inner struggle with something that initially as a child and teenager he does not understand but eventually reaches the point of realisation and chooses to be what his inner self tells me which is to be woman. The change is slow and one day he decides to wear make up in the ring and as time passes wears more and more till his body and mind is both female and male then transitions to fully fledged female as she bids goodbye to her male self and becomes the beautiful woman she had always dreamt of.
The festival was opened by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. An African man of a certain age who stood up and celebrated difference, diversity and social justice in a country of rampant homophobia – There IS SOMEBODY afterall [his speech will be published during the week] We need him in Nigeria, in Uganda, in Kenya – throughout the continent – a man of vision and humanity in amongst bigots and unholy men of God.
At the Old Fort prison complex in Constitution Hill, Rita Marley opened the Bob Marley photographic exhibition amongst the tiny isolation cells and small exercise, shower and meal area of the prison where Mandela was imprisoned in the 1960s. The cells are tiny, just arms length, hardly enough space to lie down for a grown man. A powerful exhibition of Marley’s life in a place that was at the heart of his protest music.
A special feast of Naija food serving up egusi with assorted meats, eba and yam
What I missed, a play, poetry jam and night at Horror Cafe.
Finally I lost all my words – gone forever into cyberspace – damn computers.