Monthly Archives: November 2015

Dumiso giving a Speech – 2015

An informal video of me contributing towards the discussion at an NGO forum for young people, hosted at the University of Botswana. Sharing my story and establishing how I relate to the world within the context of Civil Society.

Disclaimer: Quality is low to to phone camera being used, however sound is clear.

 

Introduction:

here

First part of the Speech:

here

 

Unfortunately, the phone memory was full before completing the speech.

Thanks to Betsi Kgari for taking & uploading the video.

Leader in progress…

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My Story of Self Discovery: Part 2 of 2

This new found responsibility had always been with me, I assume I wasn’t educated enough to be aware. The science of people is dynamic and exciting. There are always sacrifices and choices to be made in the work that we do and within any context, this same science can make all the difference in a movement for freedom or liberation. The demands of the recently agreed UN’S SDGs and AU’s Agenda 2063 are great examples of the way in which the world’s challenges have evolved and intersected. No longer is food security, capitalism or philanthropy enough for the development of a nation. Similarly, the discourse of HIV/AIDS has separated the two components, acknowledging the advancements of research, medical and advocacy work.

 

The above is the foundation for the frame of thinking I have come to advocate for in its complexity. SRHR and Gender diversity are evolving and increasingly becoming visible in public discourse. It is no longer enough to demand Health services, but to also encourage professional development and entrepreneurship as avenues to explore for the well being of my community. I believe there is so much more to HIV or STI driven programming, there is more to Legislative engagement. These are important components for the LGBT movement, but if visibility and a culture of change agents isn’t embedded, it will be difficult to realise the kind of snowball progress more developed nations have achieved. I believe in the development of intellectual capital; where a movement is built on ideals, a narrative of hope and the pooling of skills. People are the main differentiator and factor for change. How we connect to people, is important in establishing a common ground for making things happen. I wish I could say more, but this aspect of leadership for me is a work in progress.

 

Looking back, I yearned to find a mentor that I not only could identify with within a professional context, but one that I could relate to on a personal level. The narrative for the gay man or lesbian woman in Africa has and still is filled with tragedy and struggle. This is critical for public discourse and trying to effect change from the injustices we face daily. I have learned of the importance of diversifying, as would any business or nation that might need to evolve or progress. It is this barrier for diversification that led me to establish an initiative aimed at addressing the Intersectionality faced by people of sexual and identity diversity. I have awakened to the need to review policy mechanisms, engaging LGBT community members in professional development, mentorship and exploring opportunities. In addition, I have discovered the importance of work that is supported by evidence and data for engaging stakeholders. I envision a world where everyone can be a Human Rights Defender, conscious of the need to protect and promote the rights of all. This could be an accountant, such as myself, a politician, a student, a procurement officer and the many other capacities we aim for as young people.

 

The world I would like to create is one that encourages individuals to contribute to society. Given the many challenges we face, in energy and water provision, a lack of transparency in leadership, a lack of infrastructure and financial inclusion; there is a need to ensure the voices of those marginalised are heard. There is a need to encourage a culture of change agents beyond the framework of peer educators, focal persons and activists. That everyone in and outside the LGBT community can be encouraged to lend a voice for justice, solidarity and dignity. This cannot be achieved by one person or organisation, but by the efforts of many who are connected to a cause. The first step, naturally would be to turn to the LGBT community. For me, I believe in enabling people to achieve their dreams. This is entrenched in the right to life, protection, freedom of expression and to opportunities.  Through one fulfilling their purpose, I have found that people can be more engaged and willing to effect change. This cannot be possible without enough provisions for livelihood and the tools needed to be successful. Civil Society in Botswana is faced with this challenge, where there aren’t enough skills, interested professionals and researchers to be engaged to strengthen LGBT work.

 

I believe in a world were focus can be on professional development, entrepreneurship or some other aspect of capacity building to enable members of the LGBT community to not only fulfill their dreams, but also voice themselves when the need arises. Too many of my peers are unemployed, in abusive relationships or are unsatisfied with the lives they lead. Too many are comfortable enough with the lives they lead to do without being advocated for or to contribute towards the movement. One alone is too many to know of. There are countless success stories we are yet to hear of. This narrative does not take away any value from the prevalent injustices against LGBT persons, but it creates a hope for the young boy that never understood themselves or the circumstances they were born to. This new narrative is needed to lend credibility to the powers that be on the talents, gifts and accomplishments LGBT persons can and have achieved. That we are of value and an important component of society as citizens, voters, community builders, professionals , friends and family members.

 

When looking back to the times of the Stonewall actions, businesses were supporting the cause. Likewise when liberation movements where challenging the status quo, other nations supported in various forms. I do not think there is a need to reinvent the wheel, but a need to build on the lessons of previous works and shift the approach. We have gone from having HIV/AIDS as a platform for public discourse on LGBT issues, to inclusion in SRHR and the rights based approach to Health provisions. I believe now is the time to evolve and have these conversations in the workplace, in the Arts and in entrepreneurship. I believe now is the time to show the world that LGBT people are just as much a part of society and the general population of a nation. This is the story I have come to know myself as. A story of success, a story of contribution and a story of redefining the way LGBT persons are known.


My Story of Discovery: Part 1 of 2

My story is one of great failure. It is the kind that sticks with you; etched in your mind and persistent with each turn of life. In this piece, I am going to share some aspects of concern, thought and passion on issues relating to being a part of the LGBT community and serving as an activist. When I first learned about activism in Botswana, it seemed a profession solely based on one being a part of the LGBT community. Growing up in an environment where you have to be educated to earn a living and subsequently create a family wasn’t a choice but it was a mandate as a son. I had lived with a lie as many others have done, refusing to rid myself of the mental, financial and physical security I had. Little did I know that the closet I was in was as transparent as the wine glass I’d often fill to drown out my sorrows. My life had been filled with wanting to please people, the need for belonging and losing the academic stealth I once had. My awakening in understanding who I was had turned my life around in the worst of ways a 16 year old in varsity could experience.

 

I was quite confused when I first heard of a Motswana man engaging tribal platforms to raise awareness on LGBT issues. This opened me to the injustices I had experienced but could never describe. This man was an activist and I found myself, wanting to assist in his cause. Before I knew it, I had started my finance career in a Big 4 audit firm and began volunteering for an LGBT organisation I would later be elected to Chair. Had I known the challenging journey I would take in the three years leading to now, I am not sure if I would be able to take the multiple challenges and more often than not, disappointment. Last year, I found myself having compromised my leadership learning curve and struggling to find my way again in this complex journey. This was a result of pressure and trying to figure out the influence culture within organisational structures had on the outcomes of an organisation such as that which I led. Little did I know this would become a subject to explore in Masters dissertation. This served as a critical point in my growth as a leader, creating a new definition of how I understood failure, confusion and challenge.

 

In a recent trip to Kampala, Uganda as a participant in a UN Special Rapporteur regional consultation, I found myself in the heat of a debate I unconsciously initiated. I was in a country known of being hostile to persons like myself, acting, behaving and talking in the normal flamboyant manner I would back home. Little did I know that this could have compromised my safety at that of my accomplices. My concern came from the reaction I received from a fellow activist, who I felt impeded my right to expression and how I identify myself with the world. The lesson of that experience for me was that there are the environments that enable, and those that do not, different kinds of activism. There are those who are quite radical or flamboyant in their approach, as in my case; being educated in post-apartheid South Africa and a citizen in a country considered an esteemed democracy. Likewise, there are those who prefer to carry out their work under the radar, in contexts where one’s future may be uncertain due to security forces, state administrative power or society itself.

 

The dynamic lessons one learns when engaging with others and discovering new contexts is mind blowing. In especially for a young mind trying to find its voice in a world of many others fighting the forces of stigma, discrimination, legislative constraints and inadequate health provisions. I connected this to a similar situation back home, where I as an advocate can easily express my views on public platforms with no concern or worry of my family, state or friends’ persecution/rejection. I never thought that my actions could result in other young people in remote areas being subject to hate crimes. The representative of gay or lesbian in those remote areas was not me, but the boy with an extra sway to his hips or the girl dressed in a masculine manner. This is the responsibility my story turned to, where one’s work can have an impact on others’ lives in an unimaginable manner. Likewise where a father has to ‘come out of the closet’ as many times as you do whenever his colleagues mention your work.


Treasures of Knowledge

Martyn Davies, Managing Director Deloitte Frontier Markets spoke of China’s convergence in the last few decades, how its shift in policy made an unprecedented impact in the world as we know in from trade, consumerism, innovation, industrialization and economic growth. This disruption post-2008 global recession was presented against the impact resources have made in African nations such as Nigeria, Angola, DRC and Botswana, the diversification of South East Asian nations and the stark difference efficiency and management in the state can redefine a country’s future.

With all the statistics, economic jargon and evidence of how Sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go, one thing struck me hardest that is often not spoken about; People. He positioned industrialization as a critical turning point for the wealth, employment and well being of a nation, despite the many other economic theories that exist. This well learned man managed to convince a room full of some of the most powerful names in financial, political and business sectors in Botswana that the difference one man can make is all that is needed to move a country forward. His most notable example was that of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos from their hometown to Seattle, this literally changed the landscape of Seattle to a global tech hub with the best talent and corporations around.

The diversification drives made by South-East Asian nations from commodity and labour driven industries to software, motor vehicle and electronic diversifications, amongst many other exports, show what efficiency and management can create. In contrast to economic growth and development, the rise in demand for commodities only made Africa more dependent on its resources. Countries report between 70 and 97% of GDP being solely from natural resources such as oil, diamonds and nickel. This has left a significant exposure for Africa in Chinese decision making. Proof of this was in the correlation between China and Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP trends post-2008. The solution to this challenge, in addition to those of power shortages, water cuts and proper governance mechanisms nationally and regionally; People.

People are a critical factor and differentiator in all aspects of the economy, social construct and policy making, yet often this is neglected in the context of development priorities, profit making and at times, civil society. I found myself in this engagement , thinking about how I could contribute towards making the kind of difference Martyn Davies spoke about. There is always a start to something and in the least, I and a lot of other young people, are a work in progress to make this happen. The key however, is in the treasure of knowledge. How we take the information we consume and put it to good use. The best treasures are never in classrooms, the workplace or in literature, but in the people we meet by change and opportunities we stumble on without expectation. Embrace the world as it is and redefine this landscape, it sounds simple – but I know, it takes a great deal of effort and time to make unimaginable things happen. God speed.