Annual Soweto Pride still relevant 18 years later
By Maria Molokomme
It is sad that after so many years of democracy in South Africa there are still marches to highlight plight of queer bodies in Soweto. That’s according to the Forum For The Empowerment Of Women which organised the Soweto Pride 2022. The event was hosted at Dorothy Nyembe Park in Dobsonville.
Dr Dalce Rakumakwe is a gender affirming practitioner. She says violence against queer bodies is rife in Soweto, thus the pride march is still necessary here, “which is sad that it is still relevant after 1994 when we had our constitution that said South Africa is a safe place for all, but it’s not.”
The executive director of the Vaal LGBTI, Azania Sengwayo says sensitising the community about queer people cannot be a one-day event. “This is the 18th year since we’ve been organising the Soweto Pride, but there are people who are still resisting and homophobic.”
However, there’s hope according to Dr Rakumakwe. “With every march every year, we reach more people. Now we have parents of queer children that joined the march. When we walked the streets it is not as violent as it used to be. People are embracing, clapping hands; they are happy to recognise us as part of the community.”
It has never been easy. “A few years back the City of Joburg didn’t want us to have the pride. They rated us as high risk,” reveals Azania. This year even the mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse showed up at the event. She even lit a candle to remember all those who died due to hate crime. “We got the support of the City of Joburg, which is a big thing,” says Azania.
Representatives from several embassies also attended. They included the United States, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, to name a few.
Christian Fogelstrom, a deputy ambassador to the Swedish embassy said, “It is important for us as the European Union and the Swedish embassy to support the LGBT community. South Africa has come a long way, but can still be more developed.”