Queer in Africa: confronting the crisis

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Academic and artistic responses to homophobia explored in Queer in Africa: Confronting the crisis

MEDIA RELEASE

Att.: Arts editors/Op-ed editors/Political editors

6 May 2014

As part of Africa Month celebrations, the Institute for Humanities in Africa (Huma), University of Cape Town, is hosting Queer in Africa: Confronting the crisis, a symposium and festival from 29 May – 2 June 2014 .

The event includes an exhibition, discussions and performances addressing the current backlash against homosexuality on the African continent. It takes place at the Upper Campus of the University of Cape Town and at different venues in Cape Town.

Over the past few years anti-homosexual hatred and laws have spread across the continent. Most vocal in this anti-homosexuality crusade have been the presidents of Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Namibia and the Gambia, while other governments, including those of Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Ethiopia, have expressed interest in following Nigeria and Uganda’s examples in adopting anti-homosexual laws. Queer in Africa: Confronting the crisis will contribute to debates on anti-homosexuality by unpacking the perpetuation of hatred and prejudice towards sexual and gender non-conforming people, with a view to fostering more critical dialogue and responses on being queer in Africa now.

Together with Iranti-org, a queer human rights visual media organisation, Huma will open the event with the Critically Queer exhibition and the book launch of Reclaiming Afrikan: Queer perspectives on sexual and gender identities. The exhibition opening and book launch showcase queer artists, activists and academics from Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.

The official opening by Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo on Thursday 29 May 2014 at 18h00 at the Centre for African Studies (CAS) Gallery will be preceded by afternoon performances at the steps to Jameson Hall and at the Old Zoo on UCT Upper Campus. Dr Stella Nyanzi of Makerere University, Uganda, will be the guest speaker at the opening event.

On Friday 30 May at 13h00 Huma leads a discussion on ‘How and what is queer about Africa, and why now?’ This discussion focuses on two key texts recently published, Queer African Reader and Queer Africa: New and collected fiction. South African writer and poet Makhosazana Xaba and Kenyan queer writer and academic Dr Keguro Macharia will discuss how queerness opens up possibilities for diverse expressions in the continent. The evening event on Friday 30 May at 18h15 at the Labia on Orange Street will include a film screening and a discussion on Woubi Chéri, a 1998 documentary film on the gay and transgender community in Ivory Coast.

A walkabout and book discussion with artists and contributors to the exhibition and Reclaiming Afrikan book launch takes place on Saturday 31 May at 11h30 at the CAS gallery.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price will open the symposium on Monday 2 June (09h00 – 17h00) and Prof Vasu Reddy (HSRC) will give the keynote address. At the symposium scholars and activists from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, DRC, and South Africa will deliberate on responses to the crisis in Africa. Panel discussions will be on religion, tradition and culture; law, human rights and LGBTI issues; and activist responses to legislating on the body and gender. The final session will be a poetry reading by Nigerian author, Unoma Azuah, at Bolo Bolo in Observatory.

Attendance at Queer in Africa: Confronting the crisis is free and open to everyone. For more information, please visit www.huma.uct.ac.za

Contact: Dr Zethu Matebeni at Huma on 021 650 4592 / huma@uct.ac.za / 083 411 2661
Full programme available here

Huma is intended to create a dynamic interdisciplinary community and seeks to drive critical public debate, promoting UCT’s vision of itself as a civic university contributing to the making of democratic citizenship.

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