Pride Parade comes to Gabs: “Come as your authentic self”

Apart from the celebrations, Pride events bring a boost to tourism as seen by the 2018 Johannesburg Pride where Melrose Arch estimates there were staggering numbers of nearly 50 000 in attendance, writes GOSEGO MOTSUMI

In a historic turn of events, Gaborone will play host to Botswana’s first annual pride parade at the Three Dikgosi Monument in the CBD on Saturday November 30. Styled Pride of Africa Gaborone, this is a Pride of Africa in collaboration with Johannesburg Pride to achieve greater tolerance and inclusion of all African LGBTQ+ identities.

Beyond the actual pride celebrations, the event seeks to liberate every person in their community to live their most authentic life, foster social acceptance and legal rights. In an interview with the organiser, Olivia Maswikiti said after attending pride marches and events for many years in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and other cities around the world, they finally decided to stage the event in Botswana and establish Gaborone as a part of what is now a global phenomenon.

“The primary reason is to provide a safe and conducive environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community living in Botswana to celebrate themselves,” Maswikiti said. “This free event is for everyone, primarily LGBTIQ persons but also our allies, friends, families as well the public at large.”

The pride weekend will result in rainbow flags billowing around the city as patrons enjoy a jam packed day featuring dance and music performances, food stalls and fashion exhibitions in a picnic set-up. Shanti Lo, Motswafere, DJ Trapp and Kitso amongst others have confirmed their presence to entertain patrons. The Three Dikgosi Monument will be the departure point for the march at 7:30 am on a route that will go to the Bull & Bush on the New Lobatse Road and go on to Nelson Mandela Drive before turning to flyover near Gaborone train station and back to the Three Dikgosi Monument.

Every parade is different because each has a local flavour. In other parts of the world, people of various sexual orientations and genders get together and celebrate who they are. Straight allies come too, some to watch and cheer while others march along in support. A lot of people come dressed in outfits composed of the colours of a flag that represents them. Some end at festivals with music and mingling because it is a time to be themselves without the fear of homophobes and transphobes.

Maswiki says pride events bring a large increase in tourism as seen by the 2018 Johannesburg Pride where there were staggering numbers of 49 634 in attendance, according to Melrose Arch statistics. This resulted in an increase in employment and business opportunities, one of the compelling issues behind starting Botswana’s own pride parade. “The truth of the matter is that not all stakeholders will be in agreement,” Mswikiti explained. “However, we have invited many organisations that do advocacy work for LGBTIQ persons in Botswana to participate in this event. This is to advance their advocacy work by setting up stalls at the event to educate and inform people about what they do and how they can be of assistance to more LGBTIQ people.”

She encouraged the LGBTIQ+ community to come and be a part of this historic event. “Come on time for the march so we can make a statement and make our presence known,” she added. “We are here. We are your children and your loved ones and all we want is to be free and have the same rights as all other citizens.”