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Gay community gradually finding acceptance among Batswana

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In recent years the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) community is becoming more visible and accepted by Botswana’s population. This was said by organisers of the annual Batho Ba Lorato film festival in an interview with The Midweek Sun. The festival, now on its sixth year, is aimed at informing, educating and celebrating sexual and gender diversity. The festival was hosted by the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGAGIBO), the advocacy organisation at the forefront of promoting awareness and acceptance of LGBTI community, with the support of the German, Goeth Institite, that supports cultural exchanges. According to one of the organisers of the film festival and communication officer for LEGAGIBO Bradley Fortuin, the reception has been positive.

He indicated that Batswana were warming up to homosexuals and were becoming comfortable with accepting them and engaging in dialogue on homosexuality in the society. He pointed out that the film festival had grown in leaps and bounds due to the public interest and willingness to engage the community in the society. “When we started out we held it at University of Botswana but we have now moved to New Capitol Cinema, a move that marks growth. We are getting a lot of support and we are seeing many people being open about their sexuality, and trying to understand the struggles that homosexuals deal with.” The film festival, which is free to the public, included discussion on different topics related to the gay community and most prominently, featured films such as Inxeba:

The Wound, which has been banned in mainstream cinemas across neighbouring South Africa. Fortuin said they had been in touch with the producers of the controversial film who helped them bring it here. “We screened the film since it has not been banned in Botswana,” he said. He added that it was sometimes important to engage the public on “uncomfortable” issues that go against the grain. Fortuin said that unlike before, there were now several platforms for homosexuals and their families to get support. “We are seeing many people coming out of the closet and expressing their sexual identity,” he said. Fortuin insisted that although homosexuality was still taboo in some aspects of society, it was nothing new but it was only now that people were beginning to come out and express their sexual identity freely.

Botswana is one of the countries that do not recognise homosexuality, however, unlike in other African countries there have not been cases of violence and killings of homosexuals. Homosexuality is still considered taboo and unnatural in “conservative and traditional” Botswana. According to Botswana law, same-gender sexual activities are illegal. However, in recent years there have been hallmark changes, including the court ruling in 2016 that ordered that the LGBT community be allowed to register their organisation. Last year, the courts ruled that at least two transgender individuals be allowed to change their gender markers.

One of them, Ricki Kgositau, who waged a landmark case against government, got married to her Congolese partner in Cape Town, South Africa, last year. Kgositau was born male but fully transitioned into a woman two years ago. Homosexuals in Botswana also faced wrath in 2016 when US based Faithful Word Baptist Church controversial leader Pastor Steven Anderson, who had come to Botswana on a visit, insulted gays and referred to them as cockroaches. He was subsequently kicked out of the country. In a separate incident, opposition politician Haskins Nkaigwa came under fire after he allegedly said that “homosexuals took all the plum corporate jobs in Botswana,” implying that economic homosexuality was the order of the day in the country. In both cases, LEGAGIBO issued strongly worded statements to criticise the continued attack on homosexuals. A

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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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