Mafikeng, 14 September 2013
Mafikeng Pride took place on 14 September 2013 at the North West University. Mafikeng was a former homeland under apartheid, and has broken the shackles of oppression by organising LGBTIQ students on the campus and in the surrounding community. Kokeletso Legoete and Tumi Mkhuma from Iranti attended the festivities. Iranti is committed to building social movements and LGBTIQ visibility especially in rural communities.
Documentation by Kokeletso Legoete and Tumi Mkhuma from Iranti.
North West University Mafikeng Campus Pride
‘cross-dressing fun day’ says, “Gay is Okay”
14 September 2013
Mafikeng, South Africa. The North West University, Mafikeng Campus held its third campus Pride, this time with the support of the campus’ residence department. Mafikeng is the capital city of the North West Province. It is a former homeland that was established under Apartheid.
Nthabiseng Maputla, a student at NWU, enjoying the bull-ride at Pride.
Photo by Tumi Mkhuma
This pride was organized by the campus residence management and the minority student organization Out ‘n Proud; an organization that was founded three years ago by the LGBTIQ students aimed at addressing the stigma experienced by LGBTI students. Their programmes motivate the LGBTIQ students to be comfortable with who they are, educate women who sleep with women and men who have sex with men (wsw and msm). Out ‘n Proud creates social spaces at the university.
Phillip Sibande, inside the “chicken jail”, part of the fun at Pride.
Photo by Kokeletso Legoete.
With the absence of supporting structures in Mafikeng for LGBTIQ persons, homophobic religious groups attack LGBTIQ gender and sexual identity. Coming out is not always a safe option for many LGBTIQ students. It is frustrating to come to terms with the fact that the society we live in is afraid of anything they do not understand or refuse to understand, especially when it comes to sexuality and gender issues. Homophobic religious groups use religion to classify anything that differs from their beliefs and understanding as alien, ungodly and sinful. I studied at Mafikeng and I lived in denial of my sexuality and I was subjected to corrective therapy because of my lesbian identity. Returning to celebrate Pride at the Mafikeng Campus was empowering. Tumi Mkhuma, my colleague accompanied me to the Mafikeng Campus Pride, the same campus where I was intimidated, stalked and my residence broken into. Campus management had to be involved in the matter as it threatened my well-being and my security on campus. To this day the case is “still under investigation” by the police, but never have I been called or given an update on my case.
LGBTIQ Pride has always been seen as a positive movement. This movement celebrates the collective fight against discrimination and protests the violation of people of various sexual and gender identities. Since OUT in Africa relocated, there has not been any formal information for lesbian, gay, intersex or transgender persons at Mafikeng Campus.
Tumi and I went to document the Pride events and met many amazing people. The residence team and the executive council of Out ‘n Proud had planned two events for the day.
The first event festivities included themes like “cross-dressing” with political statements to say “gay is okay”. Activities included quad-biking, water slides, bull-riding, paintball-shooting, and a drag/butch contest. Tumi and I entered and won the best-dressed event, and I won best-couple with my drag queen date. We had great fun.
Kokeletso Legoete in DRAG at the Mafikeng Pride, 2013.
Photo by Tumi Mkhuma.
Phillip Sibandi is a gay-identified LLB law first year student who crossed-dressed, “It actually feels very weird to be cross-dressed… it means the person who lives inside me is like this, even though I cannot express the feeling on a daily basis, I am a proud gay; pride… I used to say you cannot celebrate something that you never worked towards achieving… being gay is more than just being a person, it’s beyond me, it is something I cannot explain, this is who we are, and we are proud.”
We established good partnerships and we will be back for sho!
By Legoete Kokeletso