A pan-African virtual LGBTQI Pride event is in the works with the objective of  presenting “three dimensional stories of African queer persons at home and in the diaspora.”

“The global media has been flooded with narratives of a completely homophobic  and hopeless Africa,” David Nnanna Ikpo, Nigerian lawyer, novelist and one of the organisers of the event told Star Observer in an email interview. “We are never in the news or in discussions until there is a Hollywood script of dusty, poverty stricken, hungry Africa where queer men are only ever lynched. Queer women, children, professionals, healers, artists, parents are invisible and erased. Having said this, Pride Afrique was born not necessarily to tackle with these destructive narratives, but to reach the corners of the continent and world where these narratives are splitting the dignities of young queer children and dreamers.”

The organisers say, the first-of-its-kind event is entirely volunteer driven and will make an effort to highlight diverse personal stories with content in Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. The organisers and teams who are based across countries and time zones have met on Zoom and other platforms in the months leading up to the plans being finalised.

The online event will feature queer themed multi-media works from individuls and orgnisations in Africa and the vast African diaspora. There will be story-weaving sessions that touch on themes including “intergenerationality of same-sex love, gender transgression, queer parenting, inter-faith queer revolutions.” The organisers say the emphasis will not be on the cultural production, but instead recognise and acknowledge queer Africa, its queer icons and history.

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 “There is a bustling, multi-layered, chaotically explosive reservoir of African queer narratives that the world ignores. And because these stories do not get the spotlight, they do not travel far. So now we are coming together, calling on all queer stories, we are building our own light, and weaving the rainbow kente in the glare of the sun,” said Ikpo whose 2017 novel Fimí Sílẹ̀ Forever was shortlisted as a finalist for Gay Fiction at the 30th Lambda Literary Awards in 2018.

The history of Africa cannot ignore the colonisation project and the Pride Afrique organisers intend to challenge the content creation by streaming platforms that continue to ignore such stories.

“You cannot tell African stories effectively while being complicit in the erasure and violence that knowledge curation can be. Pride Afrique as the first Pan-African virtual Pride, as a storytelling platform, calls for consciousness of the violence that is constituted by the erasure, silence, negative portrayal, passiveness towards and ignorance of the three dimensional African queer stories,” said Ikpo.

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 Ikpo sees the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and across the world as a “crystallisation of a historic fight for racial equality.” In this fight and defiance, he believes, culture and knowledge is an important tool for vulnerable communities.

“The Black Lives [Matter] movement is legitimately veined from that need and the urgency to emancipate. Like the Igbo rising, it defies odds, makes sacrifices and pays the price for being heard, being seen, but shakes oppression at its roots so that history, the system hears you loud and clear,” said Ikpo. “Our chances of  defiance and equality are fortified by what we know, what we can know. Content creation and storytelling is such an important part of that emancipation, most especially for us who need to nourish ourselves and our children with stories of love, of laughter or triumph and defiance. With stories of tears too, because those are important but incomplete without the telling of the sun and how we, as different as we are, moved ahead, and moved on.”

For more information visit the Pride Afrique website or check out @PrideAfrique on social media platforms.

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