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‘I am gay to the core’

Yvonne Mooka

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SAYING IT OUT: Caine Youngman is openly gay and has no fear

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) advocacy manager says he discovered that he was gay while in primary school.Then he did not know there was a term for his sexual orientation. Nonetheless, he was different from the other boys. “When I was with gents, they would be busy checking out girls and saying how beautiful they were, and I’d be busy checking them (the gents) out and thinking they’re too hot,” he says.

Youngman is openly gay and has no fear. He never had problems with coming out of the closet or being freely gay because he treats people with respect. However, revealing his sexual orientation was a bit of a process as he had to come out to himself first. “I had to make peace with myself first, and then tell my family, individually. I did that but it escalated when I started appearing in newspapers talking about LEGABIBO. I was still a student,” he says.

Born and raised in Francistown, Youngman says that he has been fortunate to be gay and free. He says that members of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex community were faced with rejection from families and workplaces. “My family has always been supportive. They have never made me feel like an outcast,” he says. In his many years of advocacy, Youngman says that he has seen LGBTI persons discriminated and made to feel inhumane. He says that most families do not want to deal with their children’s sexuality. “We have had instances where some of our members wanted to kill themselves,” he says. He says that there is a lot of blackmail and extortion against gays by heterosexuals. Citing examples, he says that they have dealt with cases where one of their members was involved.

“When someone has not come out that he is gay, someone can threaten that he is going to do something, for example, tell his employer or family, that he is gay if he does not do something that he wants or give him whatever he wants. We have been forced to engage lawyers to represent our members before,” he states. He states that gay people have been threatened with rape by members of the society, wanting to benefit something from them. Some, he says, create false Facebook pages to ridicule LGBTI persons. Others have been assaulted for being gay.

Between February and September last year, Youngman says they have dealt with 12 cases of violence against LGBTI persons. “Only two reported the violence. The rest said they feared being rejected by their families, friends and employers. “When heterosexuals see that you’re still hiding, they use it against you,” he says, advising gays LGBTI persons to come out when they are ready. He says that they should know the environment that they are living in and be mentally ready for what comes with being openly gay.

He however says LGBTI discrimination is not worse compared to other countries. Youngman thanked the Ministry of Health and Wellness for making it its own mandate to include LGBTI persons in their National Strategic Framework. He says that LEGABIBO was actively involved in its draft.

We’re all human
Asked what people need to understand about the LGBTI community, Youngman says that just like everyone else, they need a peace of mind. He says that they face severe challenges and could do with a conducive environment. “Many of us face a lot of mental issues because families do not want our relationships. We are made to choose between our partners and our families. As a result, relationships do not work,” he says.

Fortunately, Youngman says his family has been supportive of his relationship of four years. Dishing out a little about his partner, he says that he is caring, has his best interest at heart and is supportive of his advocacy role. He says that his partner took care of him when he was sick last year, and also helped with LEGABIBO conference this year that attracted the southern advocacy region. “We have met each other’s families, and our families have also met,” he says.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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