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HAPPY HOLY HOMOSEXUAL

The MidweekSun Admin

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We have witnessed and heard, we are still witnessing and hearing how some people, in this case people who identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer – LGBTIQ, struggle to come to terms with their sexual and gender identity and reconciling this with their identity as religious persons.

At the core of this struggle are the messages and actions of religious leaders; folks in the temples, mosques, basilicas, chapels and houses of worship, and the society at large (I include society because society is influenced by religion and culture) who spew and spit out messages of dogmatism and prejudice and negatively impact the lives of sexual minorities.

There is no telling how much damage has been done to queer people of religious inclination by members of their spiritual communities but there is no denying that the effects are devastating, one of which is the disconnection and severing of ties from the source of life, and in some instances to the self. When he was interviewed, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he would choose hell over a homophobic God; what he was trying to emphasise was the spirit of Ubuntu/botho – that I am, therefore we are. Mother Teresa further stresses this point when she said “when you judge people, you have no time to love them,” and indeed her words are a manifestation of what many of the LGBTIQ persons are going through. Many religions, societies and communities regrettably, for the longest time, have chosen judgment and in the wake of this decision, have left brokenness, destruction and disconnection.

This said, I have a message for the LGBTIQ community, homophobic religious leaders and the communities who stand by and watch! For the elders in the religious domain; the common theology is that everyone is intended to be a representative or image of God (imago Dei). Race, sexuality or gender identity, does not exclude, anyone from being in God’s image and it is within this differences that we ought to acknowledge and appreciate, God’s limitlessness and diversity. Frankly put, to interpret the Bible literally is what is causing many problems for the church today. We are trying to imitate, a time that has no relevance to the lives people lead today.

Please do not misunderstand me, the message of the gospel does not change over time, it remains constant and unwavering but if we fail to understand and extract the initial envisioned message of the biblical teachings (a case in point would be the story of Sodom and Gomorra), then we produce an ideological, unrelatable and insular product that becomes unchallengeable ‘truth’ and results in this business of ‘but the bible says,’ and that ‘homosexuality is un-African’ without any form of engagement or interrogation.

I plead with religious elders and leaders to enlighten themselves and their flock of followers on the true intent of religious tenets; love, not hate. Just look at what happened in the era of apartheid and slavery, it was only when the people educated themselves and became conscious of their oppression that they stood up for themselves and then were liberated. We need this consciousness of the effects of our teachings on people’s lives; stop forcing people to live pretentious lives instead of encouraging them to be the best versions of themselves. How else can you understand or comprehend that diversity in creation does exist and this is the beauty of the maker. Stop depriving people of a peaceful, joyous and an authentic spiritual connection, to the source of all life just because you do not understand and do not take the time to seek understanding.

To the LGBTIQ community; all supreme powers are big on authenticity, and it is only in your authentic vessel, that communication with the source of life becomes clear. We have heard too many stories of people trying to pray the gay away, with no success, and because we so badly want to fit in, we either, live ostentatious lives or elect to stray away from and disconnect with our Creator; God and eventually lose our faith. By so doing we fall into, the stereotype trap of apparently being promiscuous and unruly, which is then used as ‘proof’ of just how immoral we are. All humans have an intricate inclination to that which they consider greater, and detaching from any sort of spiritual connection makes one feel incomplete.

It is important to understand that, you cannot always consume everything you are fed in terms of teachings of the message of God without seeking your own truth. God is not against you learning and educating the self, that is why we have been awarded brains which allow for reasoning and questioning. The LGBTIQ community has to reach a point where, liberating themselves becomes their mandate. They must remember the African proverb that until the lion writes its own story, the hunter will always be the hero. Stop being apologetic about who you are. Just like the rest of God’s creation, only God can truly answer and fully explain his creation.

And finally, to the masses who just stand by and watch injustices take place; your silence will not protect you.With that said I pray therefore that, the source of life plants and nurtures the seeds of understanding, reconciliation, fellowship and love in all of your hearts. Amen

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Ebenezer!

Yvonne Mooka

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This year marks my 10th year as an employee of The Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun newspapers, under the CBET Pty Ltd company.

I still remember one afternoon of 2010 when I was in Francistown. I was waiting for my graduation from the University of Botswana where I did Bachelor of Media Studies. I had just started a freelancing job with Mmegi in the Ghetto when one of the Guardian/Sun managers Tlotlo Mbazo called me offering a job opportunity. See, during our time, UB newspaper- then known as The UB Horizon was hyped and big.

We distributed it across newsrooms in the country. In addition to this, one of my former Journalism lecturers Julia Cass had advised us to always cut our articles and keep portfolios and later send them across media houses for opportunities. So when MmaMbazo called me about an opportunity that had come up, I knew she had seen my work that I had submitted a few months before closing at UB.

Coming into the Guardian/Sun newsroom the first days was exciting yet challenging at the same time. I found many male colleagues that were also very loud and pushy. Intimidating. At times, annoying. Some were old, reminding me of the set up in international newsrooms where journalists are older. The 24 year-old me then was timid and emotional…but zealous and curious. I was impressed however by the female journos that oozed energy and passion.

The truth about the media industry is that there was a time when it was male-dominated. Women were thrown into light beats and strong ones were tackled by males. Though it was the case with Guardian/Sun then, seeing the likes of Phemelo Ramaribeng nee Ramasu pursue News was encouraging. Her human interest stories to a larger extent  contributed to my love for Human Rights issues.

I worked under the leadership of great men who all shaped my career in special ways. The likes of peculiar Mpho Dibeela who has since gone into newspaper ownership; Mike Mothibi, the sophisticated writer with a passion for farming; courageous Abraham Motsokono who called a spade a spade and not a big spoon; fatherly Ernest Moloi who helped build resilience in me; Mbazo, woman of the board who leads tenderly but with a stern posture; Justice Kavahematui with a very calm demeanor; Joe Brown-Tlhaselo the perfectionist who pays attention to every detail in the paper – in fact it was Joe-Brown who welcomed me the first day by offering me a chair and lunch! And then there is  Boitshepo Balozwi, my editor-turned-friend who every now and then blesses me with pearls of wisdom when ‘the devil wants to lie,’ as well as Dikarabo Ramadubu, our moving encyclopaedia.

Still under this list falls Beatrice Mbulawa, the magnificent General Manager who came with a unique style of managing a media house as a finance-steel lady. Joel Konopo and Ntibinyane Ntibinyane have always been deep hence their now establishment of the bullish INK Centre for Investigative Journalism. In 2012, they took me to Amabunghane Centre for Investigative Journalism in South Africa where my mindset changed altogether. That was an investment that I will always use in my Journalism. Douglas Tsiako also deserves recognition for always believing in me. Special mention of Ditiro Motlhabane for always putting me on my toes about my stories as my News Editor.

My colleagues across every department in The Guardian/Sun throughout the decade, both new and old, have been fascinating. The team is a rare, winning breed. Group dynamics is as real as it gets but I can say unfazed, that I learn a lot from every single individual in our newsroom. The energy here is right. It’s amazing.

So much can be said about my decade in our newsroom. Perhaps, my number one lesson is that of servitude. Journalists are servants. They should serve. At church we say EBENEZER – Thus far the Lord has brought me. Thank you.

Facebook/Instagram: Yvonne Tshepang Mooka
LinkedIn: Yvonne Mooka
Twitter: @yvonnemooka
Email: yvonnequeen2003@gmail.com

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The thrill of being boys in the fields of plenty

Matshediso Fologang

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Boys will always be boys. This weekend after a long time I took a walk from my maternal ancestral mekgoro/ditlaagane to the southwest, much along the recently ploughed masimo. In this journey all memories of the early 1960s came to mind.

Then boys were generally a law unto themselves as they could move all over and invade the masimo and take ripe magapu and nche (water melons and sweet reed) without the owner’s consent. Such was known as “go itaya khutu.” It was never considered stealing but helping our boyish greed. This weekend as I traversed these fields with green ripening products I couldn’t help but reminisce about my youth. The things we did then?

We could just raid a field and help ourselves with whatever was ripe. Such acts were punishable by caning of the wrong doers. Still such did not deter the boys from the adventure. Such was the things the boys did with such impunity. Such acts of thuggery were only lessened by some fear of certain fields that were known to be owned by dingaka (traditional doctors) and baloi (witches). We had serious superstitious beliefs that we knew we could become crippled or die if we dared help ourselves with produce from such masimo.

Walking through these masimo, I went deeper into the area and started remembering the past like it happened yesterday. Activities I was part of just came back to mind like these happened yesterday. I recalled one such day we were herding clan cattle and goats. Around midday we realised our morning fill was no more. We were a bit hungry. How could we be hungry in the midst of plenty? Boys being boys, we raided the next nearest tshimo. We helped ourselves with water melons.

We carried our loot into the bushes nearby. We had a feast.  Just as we were ready to leave, one of us came up with a story that the old lady whose field we had raided was a moloi. It was revealed that she would find out who had stolen her melons. Panic and fear gripped us. She was going to get us all dead. She would just doctor our footprints. Such stories we had heard in our daily lives but for us to be potential victims was the worst nightmare then.

Living in a superstitious society then, the things we did then make me just laugh today when I look back. On this adventurous day we drove the cattle and goats up to the nearest hillocks. Something bad happened. As we had almost forgotten the earlier fear, we now raided the trees for indigenous fruits. We climbed up these trees to pick the fruits. One of the boys accidentally fell down and injured his back.

Being products of a superstitious clan the only explanation we could make for this accident was the curse (boloi) of the owner of the melons we had earlier stolen. The next problem we faced was to explain the visible pain our colleague endured. Tradition had it then that anyone who had fallen from a tree would eat his meals from a bed pan until he healed. We all bullied the victim not to show signs of pain.. We were cruel and it was all about being boys. Such was being boys.

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