By Dumisani Dube
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: A few hours of celebration were cut short in the second capital of Zimbabwe.
On the Monday 25 th of October the Zimbabwean Queer community and allies went into celebration
mode as the street banner was visibly seen flying high in the street of the City of Kings Kwa
Bulawayo. The banner read in IsiNdebele “Umuntu nguMuntu” a GALZ motto that has run for many
years in mainly used in the Shona language (Munhu Munhu) which simply means a human being is a
person. Asked on the mood of the Queer community after this incident, Bulawayo Based GALZ
Programs lead, Tadios Munyimani said, “They are unhappy. They were excited yesterday, but now
they are disappointed. “
Social media went abuzz with retweets commending this progressiveness of the country towards
LGBTI rights, with some saying it was a step in the right direct. Boy weren’t they wrong. The
celebration was cut short as news arrived at the GALZ Bulawayo office that the banner had been
vandalized. It is unknown who did this and what their motives were.
The banner was put up courtesy of GALZ an association of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe, hence it had
their website at the bottom corner and a picture of hands holding a rainbow lanyard. Commenting
on this incident the Director of GALZ, Chester Samba said “Some people have a problem with rights,
dignity and respect for all Zimbabweans.”
Since 1995, the Zimbabwean government has carried out campaigns against LGBTI right, this has left
the LGBTI community in the country unsafe from hate crimes, discrimination and they is no law
protecting them from their abusers. It remains unclear if the law makers are going to take this up as
a crime as the deliberate destroying of someone’s property is a crime. It is also unclear if a police
report has been made or not.
Contacted for comment, South Africa based, Zimbabwean Actor, Poet and Activist Frank Malaba
express his utter disappointment, “It is heartbreaking to see the level of intolerance in a region
which has suffered some of the worst kind of structural hatred and intolerance. I’ve gone from being
proud of my people to feeling like the internal damage that plagues our region seems not to leave
the room for anyone who is different from us.” Spirit broken Malaba went on to say, “I’d hoped that
we were on the ascent to better versions of ourselves and a more respectful, accepting community.
And how I was wrong.”
It is clear that top-down reform, with the western world leading the way is not going to be the road
that our Africa will take to change anti-LGBTI laws; scepticism towards the West and homophobia
are far too closely intertwined. It’s not yet UHURU!