From delivering a TED talk in a tutu to coming out in a country where homosexuality is deeply ostracised, Binyavanga Wainaina was a champion of the LGBT+ cause in Africa, campaigners said as they paid tribute to the Kenyan writer, who died this week aged 48.
Many praised the openly gay author, essayist, and campaigner as a role model who challenged widespread prejudices and emboldened young LGBT+ Africans to be open about who they were.
“I think Wainaina is the first African gay professional writer, and someone of such a high standing in society that has come out as openly gay,” said Clare Byarugaba, a human rights activist in Uganda.
Byarugaba said Wainaina’s example provided encouragement to young LGBT+ people in Uganda, where many face violence and discrimination.
“It’s a commonly held belief that you can’t amount to anything if you’re LGBT,” said Byarugaba, who works with the independent human rights group Chapter Four Uganda.
“I can give them as an example and say, here’s one person, who is African, Kenyan, East African who is gay and accomplished, and recognized all over the world and has made it within his craft –and you can also make it like him.”
Hajia Yariya, a gay woman in Ghana – where LGBT+ people still face discrimination – said reading an interview in an African newspaper in which Wainaina said being a gay African man was not a big deal had given her “goosebumps”.
“I became very proud of who I am and I admired his fearless being a lot from that day onwards,” she said.
“I can boldly say that he encourages the LGBTQI people in every part of Africa, especially me, because reading his article created a shift in my mind and whole being as a queer woman,” she added.
Wainaina came out as gay in 2014 – a major step in Kenya, where homosexuality remains a taboo in many circles and gay sex is illegal.
Kenya’s Supreme Court is due to rule later on Friday on a challenge to that law, which campaigners say violates the country’s progressive 2010 constitution guaranteeing equality, dignity, and privacy for all citizens.
Many Christian and Muslim groups support the law, however, and the attorney general has argued decriminalizing gay sex could lead to legalising same-sex marriage.
Fellow author and friend, Frankie Edozien said Wainaina was “a beacon of light” who “was not going to cede his right to be an African and a gay African anywhere on the continent”.
That included the famous TED talk – delivered in a lilac jacket and bright pink tutu – in 2015, the year after he came out.
“If people like him were silent, what is then the hope for the baker, the tailor, the mechanic who is LGBTQ out there?” the Nigerian-American author told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York.
Same-sex acts are illegal in 32 African countries and Edozien said intimidation, fear of arrest and stress had led to a high incidence of mental health problems among LGBT+ Africans.
“We are having a very, very hard issue with mental health issues, suicide, attempted suicide,” he said.
“For many people Wainaina’s life pulled them back from the brink, allowed them to see that there can be another way. It allowed them to see that the choice is not always darkness, not always misery.”
The brain behind West Africa’s premier smart card manufacturers
SecureID manufactures all the varieties of smart cards with the inclusion of highly complex polycarbonate cards
Introducing SecureID Nigeria Ltd, a leading smart card technology and digital security company. It possesses a world-class facility earning it plaudits not just for its immense facilities, but for being the only smart card production plant in all of West Africa. One of the six in Africa.
This feat was achieved by Kofo Akinkugbe, who doubles up as Founder and CEO. Her story is one of success owing to her record as an exceptional entrepreneur and businesswoman. Her background as a Mathematics Major whilst also earning an MBA from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland contributed to her successes.
SecureID manufactures all the varieties of smart cards with the inclusion of highly complex polycarbonate cards. According to its website homepage, the company takes the lead as Africa’s industry leader in smart card manufacturing, fulfilment and digital solutions while also offering superior end-to-end identity management and digital security solutions.
At the moment, SecureID has acquired certification from VISA, Verve, and MasterCard. The company operates a world-class production plant while also adhering to the best practices and setting international standards.
Kofo Akinkugbe is encouraging business owners to build capacity that will sustain creativity. Citing her company as an example, she opined that Secure ID succeeded by thinking ahead and developing a product that was not yet in demand at the time it was being developed.
She further suggests that employers and business owners focus on employee creativity while monitoring the returns on investment.
Airline cleaners find abandoned foetus clogging plane’s toilet in South Africa
The foetus was discovered by cleaning staff as the plane was being prepared and passengers boarded for an early morning flight
Cleaners found an abandoned foetus blocking the toilet of a plane in South Africa on Friday, the domestic FlySafair airline said, prompting the offloading of passengers and a police investigation.
The foetus was discovered by cleaning staff as the plane was being prepared and passengers boarded for an early morning flight from the coastal city of Durban to Johannesburg.
“Upon final preparations of the waste management system for the departure of flight, our technical crew discovered what appeared to be an abandoned foetus,” the airline said in a statement.
Police confirmed the incident and said they were investigating.
Passengers were asked to disembark the plane and their journeys were re-scheduled.
“We will be doing everything within our power to aid authorities in the necessary investigations and thank our loyal customers for their patience with the resultant delay,” said FlySafair executive Kirby Gordon.
Elephant attacks in Botswana spark support for reversal of hunting ban
Last month, the government lifted a blanket hunting ban, imposed in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama
An elephant carcass lies at the edge of a field in Legotlhwana village, northeast Botswana — evidence of the desperation and anger felt by a farmer whose crops have been repeatedly destroyed.
Ishmael Simasiku, 71, indignantly recounts how he was guarding his field as he does every night when an elephant broke through the perimeter fence and helped itself to his watermelons.
Simasiku’s attempts to repel the elephant using torchlights and gunshots fired into the air were futile. The animal only retreated briefly and returned.
Fed up, he shot it dead on May 14.
“The elephant came from the forest and was destroying my crops. The (sports hunting) ban made my life worse,” said Simasiku, holding a watermelon half-eaten by an elephant.
The retired policeman in this village near the border with Namibia has seen his corn harvest fall by about 90 per cent over recent years as elephant numbers have boomed.
Under the country’s wildlife conservation policy, Botswana’s elephant population has increased nearly 10-fold since 1970, to 130,000 today, according to the UN Environment Programme.
As elephants grazed behind him in Chobe National Park , Thebeyakgosi Horatius, head of the park’s human-wildlife conflict office, confirms that elephants are “killing people (and) destroying their crops”.
His department runs a 24-hour emergency response team to react to elephant attacks.
Last month, the government lifted a blanket hunting ban, imposed in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama, on the grounds that elephant numbers were growing.
The decision angered many conservationists and stirred up a political hornet’s nest as elections loom later this year.
“To me, it’s so sad and extremely painful that all these years’ work to build up to what we had achieved is being put in reverse,” Khama told reporters by telephone.
“Our tourism is wildlife-based. We have already seen it taking a hit. I’m told our numbers have dropped by 10 per cent since they started talking about (re-starting hunting).”
Locals appeal for understanding –
Tourism is the second largest contributor to Botswana’s GDP after diamonds.
But an end to the ban on sports hunting has been welcomed by many Botswanans.
On April 26, Merafhe Shamukuni, 53, was walking home down a steep pathway in Kasane, Botswana’s wildlife tourist town, when he was attacked and killed by an elephant.
His sister, Dorcus Shamukuni, 49, tearfully remembers her brother who worked as a builder and cared for their wheelchair-bound father.
“No one expected he was going to die that way,” said Shamukuni.
While global conservationists are up in arms over the resumption of hunting, locals appeal for understanding over problems caused by freely roaming elephants which live unfenced in Botswana.
“We are here in Africa, facing this on a daily basis (and) all they are interested in is to come and see those animals for a few hours and go back where they are comfortable.
“We are in trouble, something really has to be done,” said Shamukuni, who works at a four-star hotel in Kasane.
“I work in tourism, I know the importance of animals…but I don’t see the reason they should be killing us in this manner.
“Human beings should be controlling the animals, not animals controlling us.”
At least, 34 people have been killed by elephants since the hunting ban came into effect — 15 of them killed last year alone when 9,000 properties were destroyed, according to government statistics.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi, on a visit to the United States, recently tweeted of another death from elephant trampling.
“The tragedy comes virtually 24 hours after I responded to an elephant protester in Las Vegas and now a brother has fallen,” he said.
Locals in Chobe district, home to Botswana’s largest concentration of elephants, fear being overrun.
“I’m so sick of people who say we should not kill. When we had hunting, we never had elephants coming into our villages,” said safari guide Petros Tshekonyane, 48, who recently found an elephant devouring his garden.
“It has to come to an end. This is too much. I can’t continue planting for elephants.”
Poaching on the rise? –
Walking around after sunset is risky, and residents wake up to broken fences and destroyed vegetable patches.
Frank Limbo, 48, is a farmer from Satau village who has survived both an elephant and a lion attack.
“One way of controlling is hunting, it has been done in the past,” he said.
Kavimba village’s chief, Josephat Mwezi, 74, said elephants were previously found only in parks “but now they are where we live. We are not after their extinction. We want them… confined to their areas.”
Community activist, Watson Mabuku admits that poaching has increased in recent years because “we were deprived of our source of protein” when hunting was outlawed.
Hunting resumption will see 400 permits issued annually.
But according to Khama, it will have little effect in reducing the population because around 650 calves are born each year.
He described most of the animals as “refugees” fleeing poaching in Angola and Zambia and said they should be encouraged to return to their home ranges.
Masisi’s plan to re-start hunting could find favour with villagers five months ahead of what could be a tough election for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
But Amos Mabuku, who heads a community conservation charity involving 5,000 families in Chobe district, dismisses any link between elections and hunting.
“It’s not a question of politics, it’s about sustainable use of natural resources and caring for your people,” said Mabuku.
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