By LIKHAPHA THAATHAA
The Oppidan Committee held an educational event, ‘Knowledge through film and poetry’, commemorating LGBTQAI+ people, including Anele Bhengu, Motshidisi Pascalina, Bonang Precious Gale, Andile ‘Lulu’ Ntuthela, and Lonwaba Jack, who lost their lives to hate crimes.
The Saturday event at the Barratt Lecture Theatre at Rhodes University included activities that showcased arts through poetry, storytelling, film, and games.
The hostess mentioned names during the ice breaker game – most Oppidans had not heard of them.
The game led to discussions on how media does not adequately cover LGBTQAI+ issues.
South Africa’s Constitution was the first to protect people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.
The Oppidan Committee caters to Oppidan students who live off campus. Iyanla Tezapi, the Oppidan Transformation Representative for 2022, said the committee organised the event to educate and spread awareness of the issues faced by the LGBTQAI+ community.
“The type of society we are currently living in has tolerated instead of accepted LGBTQAI+ members of the community as complete human beings who are equally deserving of human dignity and rights,” she said.
Tezapi was initially disappointed with the number of students that attended, considering that there are over 3 000 oppidans. On the other hand, the engagements of the few oppidans made the event a success for the committee.
“As the event progressed, I realised that a smaller group was not only easy to facilitate but allowed a safe space for conversation among the students,” she said.
Ofentse Tshepang, a second-year Fine Art student at Rhodes University, said the conversations regarding homophobia in South Africa and Africa versus the West stood out for him. “The film created open conversations, and that was my favourite part of the event,” Tshepang said.
Masters in Social Science student Mantsane Ntsane said most African countries do not consider queer people. “Most African leaders believe it’s a crime, and in most African countries, people go to jail or get killed for being queer,” said Ntsane.
Although South Africa was the first country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage, there are a series of killings of LGBTQIA+ community people in the country, she said. “More needs to be done to stop hate crimes, not only in South Africa but Africa in general.”