‘Awesome 50’ list celebrates inspirational LGBTIQ Africans

Sylvester Chauke, Somizi Mhlongo, Steve Letsike & Ricki Kgositau

A unique new list aimed at celebrating and profiling LGBTIQ Africans who are doing work that benefits LGBTIQ people across the continent has been released.

The Awesome50 Annual List of LGBTIQ Africans is a first of its kind. The 50 people included directly and indirectly positively impact the lives of LGBTIQ people in the fields of human rights, media, politics, corporate, social and civic development, academia, health and other areas.

The Awesome50 List is the brainchild of LGBTIQ activist, publicist and entrepreneur Motlatsi Motseoile. It includes South African marketing guru Sylvester Chauke, actor and singer Nakhane, Feather Awards founder Thami Kotlolo and entertainer Somizi Mhlongo.

Among the unsung heroes, are South African AIDS Council co-chair Steve Letsike, human rights lawyer Mpho Nefuri, who has represented LGBTIQ people in hate crimes cases, and Ekurhuleni Pride organiser Ntsupe Mohale.

Ensuring that the list is as diverse as possible, it has listed Botswana transgender rights activists Katlego Kesupile-Kolanyane and Ricki Kgositau, Nigerian human rights defender Pamela Adie, and Kenyan journalist Denis Nzioka. The project further recognises five LGBTIQ allies, including Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, Dr Sindi van Zyl and Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale.

“The rights of LGBTIQ Africans have come under threat in recent years and forced many of us to hide or run from what is close and familiar,” said Motseoile in a statement. “It has forced many LGBTIQ people to stand up, shout and be heard, if not for the queer community, then only for themselves. It is important for us as a community to then speak the names of these heroes and icons, to celebrate and thank them for their tireless and heroic efforts and ongoing work.”

The list is the culmination of a process of selection and consultation with the LGBTIQ community, said Motseoile. Representation on the list includes groundbreakers from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana.

The Awesome50 Annual List is supported by UberPride, an employee resource group at Uber Sub-Saharan Africa that aims to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion and diversity within the company.

“We believe the world is brighter, more colourful, more productive, more creative, and happier when each of us can be authentic to who we are. UberPride advocates to build intersectional, supportive, and empowering communities—within Uber’s workplace and across the cities we serve” said UberPride’s Ross Adami.

You can download the full Awesome50 Annual List here or view it on the official website from 20 October 2018.

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