Features

A GAY AFRICAN LOVE STORY

Thu, 14 February 2013

Thoba Sithole and Tshepo Modisane

On a continent where homosexuality is often seen as foreign and unnatural Tshepo Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole are loudly proclaiming their love for each other. Meet this proudly gay and engaged-to-marry couple who're determined to live and love freely.

The now 27-year-old men first met and became friends while studying in Durban but lost touch after Tshepo returned to Joburg. Thoba, who is originally from KZN, later moved to Gauteng in 2011.

They then bumped into each other at the Sunninghill Virgin Active gym, reigniting their friendship and becoming gym partners; supporting and motivating each other in their workouts. "We were helping each other with weights, training exercises and eating health plans," explains Tshepo.

The chemistry between them grew and they soon realised that they were becoming much more than friends. "We finally made it official and were an item,” says Tshepo.

“The great step that we took in our relationship as a gay couple was introducing each other to our families. We are so blessed to have supportive families who care about us. Even though we are gay they still love us."

The relationship strengthened and, one Friday evening at home in June last year, Tshepo proposed to Thoba. He accepted and the couple decided to do things the African way; respecting the traditions and customs associated with marriage.

"We communicated our intentions to get married to both our families as we wanted to have a traditional African ceremony and also have a traditional Western 'fairytale white wedding,’” explains Thoba.

With their families’ support, the couple have set the date of 6 April to have the African ceremony in Thoba’s hometown of Stanger. They expect over 200 guests and the guys will dress in their respective traditional clothing (Tshepo is Tswana and Thoba is Zulu).

“Since we are both men we have decided that neither of us will pay lobolo. The most that we will do is to buy gifts for our parents as a sign of appreciation for raising us,” says Thoba.

They plan to have their white wedding later in the year in Johannesburg as a more intimate ceremony and are determined to have children through a surrogate.

“Family is important to us and that is the number one reason why we want to have children. We also want our children to grow up in an environment where they are loved greatly by both parents who appreciate them,” says Thoba.

The relationship has become something of a cause célèbre in KZN, with a local newspaper celebrating their upcoming nuptials as the area’s first legal gay marriage with a front page feature.

Tshepo says that one of the reasons they’ve chosen to be so open is that they "hope to inspire people out there who are still struggling to come to terms with their sexuality”.

"We see no reason to hide in darkness as if there is something to be ashamed about. Our marriage is largely symbolic and a sign that black gay men can commit and build family through a happy and loving marriage,” he says.

Thoba chimes in that “This is who we are and we are just tired of people judging with no understanding. We are people and entitled to live life to the fullest”.

He adds that as a couple, “we have never felt any negative reaction that was blatant to our face. Most people have largely been supportive and excited about our union”.

They both agree, however, that there is a lack of openly gay role models in South Africa, especially among people of colour. "People are still ashamed because the vast majority of the black community is not accepting of being a homosexual. They see it as largely being a 'Western trend' that is in fashion lately,” says Tshepo.

He goes on to add that he has no problem being seen as a role model. "If our action of getting married and being bold and proud about it is emulated by more members of the LGBTI community who are black, then so be it. If people are inspired by our love and actions and want to do the same to follow in our footsteps then we don’t mind being labelled as ‘role models’ in the LGBTI community.”

Tshepo believes that “More and more members of this community who hold positions of influence need to come out so that people become aware that being a homosexual is not some disorder or curse from God”.

Thoba agrees: “Hiding who we are is what makes people judge us even more and makes them not accept us for who we are. If we can just live life openly then in time people will get used to the idea that gay and lesbian people are part of society and we are here to stay."

They scoff at the widely held notion on the continent that being gay is un-African and somehow brought here by the West.

"We grew up in a township and homosexual people have always been around us even though they were ridiculed by members of the community," says Tshepo, arguing that it’s discrimination, through colonial laws and attitudes, that was imported to Africa.

"Studies by historians and anthropologists have found same-sex relationships to have been in existence in pre-colonial Africa,” he argues. “Most Africans need to stop making excuses for their own fears and embrace that same-sex relations have been happening in Africa since time immemorial.”

They see Valentine's Day as “a wonderful day for celebrating love” but also believe that “each and every day should be Valentine’s Day” between people who love each other. They’ll be marking the day this year by having a romantic dinner for two.

Romance is something that they say helps keep the spark alive in their relationship. “Tshepo is very romantic and not afraid to show his love,” says Thoba.

“I think one of the most romantic things that he has done for me was writing a poem that was dedicated to me which brought tears to my eyes as I knew that it came from the heart. It is the small simple things that matter to me the most.”

Tshepo says that what he most loves about Thoba is "his calm and humble spirit. I love the fact that he takes care of me. I love the fact that he is sexy and I can rely on him as a partner that will always be there for me. His love for me has no begining and no end. We share a common goal and vision about the kind of life and future we want to live in.”

When asked what he most loves about Tshepo, Thoba says that he adores the "fact that he is really smart and wise beyond his age. I love the fact that Tshepo is goal oriented and driven about the future. Not forgetting the fact that I find him extremely sexy - and his six pack stomach as well. Tshepo cares a lot about me. I have experienced his love and it genuinely comes from the heart.”

Tshepo and Thoba are part of a new generation of young gay Africans who are determined to claim an equal space in their communities. Through their actions, words and love for each other these two men express the common humanity we all share. They inspire us to hope and dream that in an ideal world love may indeed conquer all.

by Roberto Igual

    

Comments


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Decreator 10/27/2013 4:42:34 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
So many ignorant angry comments. So sad. Kudos to both of you. LIve your lives! Some of these angry people actually sound jealous.
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phuthi 9/16/2013 4:19:17 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I was watching shift today n i gotta say wow what a power couple,all the best of ur marriage n thoba take care of Cameron,he is a lovable soul

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lad 8/25/2013 12:44:42 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
I am happy for you both.
I wish I can get a man to marry me too. We in west Africa still suffer in silence. Anyway you both are encouraging to me. CONGRATULATIONS !!!
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Dawn Elise 5/7/2013 10:49:31 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Congratulations, blessed brothers. Your love makes me praise God. Set up a PayPal account so we can contribute for presents! Love, Dawn
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Dan Collier 4/23/2013 9:12:15 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Extraordinary! An inspiring story. Two remarkable young men. I wish them all the luck, down all the days.
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4/12/2013 6:13:05 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Shut the fuck up lame ass! when yall lost the argument tht proves tht love can exist between any two ppl, you decided to play the 'parent' game. doesnt matter whom u marry, if u wanna mke kids, u can still make kids. lets not forget tht thier a loads of kids out there who need parents.
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GAME 4/10/2013 6:35:14 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
YOU GUYZ ARE NOTHING BUT A BASTARD...... WOULD YOU BE ALIVE IF UR PARENTS ARE GAY?... TO HELL WITH BOTH OF YOU
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Simon 4/9/2013 4:44:56 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Saw an article about your marriage on Pink News in the UK
It gladdens me to see you setting the record straight that being gay is as natural in Africa as being black. For far too long people have been denying you exist. I saw the visibility of black gay men rise from 'unusual' to 'normal' in London throughout the 2000's. I hope the same will happen across Africa. Well done guys.

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Ed van Betuw 4/9/2013 11:40:24 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
you are a role model, indeed by showing this you support other (young) people; and your parents could they support you (the world) too ? Proud of having sons like this.
Thank you for showing and sharing
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barbara 4/9/2013 1:27:20 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
No one should have the right to tell anyone who to fall in love with and marry!! Congrats to you both. May you have a long and beautiful life together!!! <3

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barbara 4/9/2013 1:26:02 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
No one should have the right to tell anyone who to fall in love with and marry!! Congrets to you both. May you have a long and beautiful life together!!! <3

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John 4/8/2013 11:01:30 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Your wedding was amazing. I saw it on eNCA, it was so beautiful.

Your blog sithole-modisane.blogspot.com as well is great. I am truly inspired.
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sharron 4/8/2013 3:34:47 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
made me feel all warm inside reading this. things have certainly changed since i lived there. wishing you both love and happiness xxx
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Edgar 4/8/2013 11:13:42 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Be happy ! All the best to you !
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Phexzen 4/8/2013 9:32:40 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Awesome indeed
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luvo 4/8/2013 12:01:53 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Your story is so inspiring, i adore you guys deeply and i would like to thank you for such bravery and the role-model nature that you have been to the LGBTI community. I wish you sucess and more love to your union and may God watch over you and protect you.
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Jo 4/7/2013 7:21:38 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Just saw your wedding on etv. I am so so so so proud to be South African right now :)
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okam 4/7/2013 12:54:00 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Guys there's nothing much I can say but im so proud of you.
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bongani mabena 3/28/2013 2:35:26 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
wish u all da best guyz God bless u


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Nkululeko 3/21/2013 11:37:13 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I think you guys are indeed role models for the gay community. I would like to thank you for your bravery and hope that you will keep up the good work of inspiring more gay people to accept themselves and come out of the closet for themselves and not worry about what people say or think about them.
Thank you.
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@TiaTeAmo 3/7/2013 8:52:56 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Really sweet story. This is real and has been forever, there must be many more couples whom were unable to share their stories. Truly inspiring. Congradulations
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letabo 3/6/2013 10:33:37 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Very emotional and inspiring story !!! wishing you all the best in love and life
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Bruce Knotts 2/27/2013 10:43:38 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
You both are a wonderful couple. I wish you love and happiness and a lifetime of wedded bliss.
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wandile 2/25/2013 6:31:05 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I wish I could also find someone!
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2/25/2013 6:31:05 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
so touchy wishing u the best guys

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Lindokuhle 2/25/2013 6:31:05 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
you will only when time is right!
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wandile 2/25/2013 6:27:16 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow guys your story inspires a lot!
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Meryl 2/25/2013 12:22:11 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
What a beautiful, inspiring couple! Wishing them much love, peace and happiness *smiley*
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Lungisani 2/22/2013 9:58:57 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Guys can I come and do the cooking & deacon for your wedding , plzzzzzzzzzzzz , by da way I do hospitality management at skul, lov the job plzzzzzzzz call me at 083 866 7407 / email me at " lungisani17@hotmail.co.uk " ......................... am so happy for you guys
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Timnyc 2/21/2013 10:41:04 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow guys, congrats and may i score an invite as a photographer to capture this special moments.
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Thabani 2/21/2013 7:03:47 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Well done dear brothers!! You are much younger than I'm, however this bold step that you have taken also encourages me to live on hope that there is genuine love in our homosexual lifestyle. Keep it up.
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loversrock 2/21/2013 10:39:46 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow, people do find love.
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rachelle 2/18/2013 1:39:47 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
wow i am touched by ths beautiful story who ever is against gays they the mst pple wit pride nd self-esteem. bigs up tsepo nd thaba
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SexyLuv 2/18/2013 10:49:17 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow..Congrats guys. u really r role models for us...keep the flag flying.

Wish u all the best brothers..
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Koena 2/17/2013 4:58:57 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow... Thank you to you guys for sharing your story with us. Congratulations on your union and I wish you all the best going forward as a married couple. I pray me and my boyfriend make it to where u guys are and can follow your great example. PS.
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Lucjee 2/16/2013 6:44:39 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Am surprise and cant stop wishing keep it up guys much love...
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Erich 2/16/2013 1:30:43 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Keep it up
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Sbooo 2/15/2013 8:18:36 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Im touched and inspired nginifisela inhlanhla majita
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Bishop Oliver 2/15/2013 5:26:09 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
This is a great and much needed story in our country. I work with many same sex couples preparing for marriage and officiate at their weddings. It is very seldom that a couple will have the support of their family and community for their marriage; and at most weddings the couple will be joined only by their witnesses and a few supportive friends. Role models are needed for same sex couples and same sex parents. We have a long way to go in our beloved country, but we are getting there with couples like these.
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Jessie 2/15/2013 3:29:40 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow, what a fantastic story and what an inspirational guys you both are. Keep up the spirit and make a difference. You are destined to be together and wish you all the best. You guys are fantastic.
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2/15/2013 3:23:58 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow wht a story my eyes just saw as a gay person my self and for me which is very hard for me to find love in my country I love wht u guys are doing for our young gays out there and haveing the courage to come out and and share there love I love u guys and I hope one day tht I find my true love and be like u guys to rais a family take care guys and be very careful cuz u still know there are assholes out there
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Pearly Ka Prido Mashaba 2/15/2013 2:51:59 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow! nyce guys...As an engaged to be married proudly out lesbian woman....I'm really proud of you,we should use our right of being married to another to the fullest cause we deserve it.....wishing you all the best
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Zizwe 2/15/2013 2:04:43 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I am a black gay man and I live a double life. Reading this article has helped me to come to terms with my reality. Thank you to the couple. We need more people like this to help us come out.
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loversrock 2/15/2013 2:04:43 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Hi, you sound interesting.
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sindile thema 2/15/2013 10:18:52 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wooooooooooooooooooooow this is so lovely and touching after all,this teaches us we gays. To be open,let's not be judged by fear amongst ourselves! I wish them the best,I've learnd frm their best....woooow
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Jide Macaulay 2/15/2013 12:36:33 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
This is amazing and most encouraging, I am proud of my African brothers in love and not afraid to express their love for each other. All the best for life and the future.
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Lance 2/14/2013 11:03:35 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Guy's you're doing a beautiful thing for not just yourselves, but for the whole continent ! Wishing you both the best of everything possible. Spread the love , deport the westen curse of discrimination !
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AB-Z 2/14/2013 5:47:33 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
This is superfantastic! Congrats you guys!
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2/14/2013 3:19:43 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
wow this is beautiful
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ardone 2/14/2013 2:23:14 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
serious guys let us not forget that we are Africans and we have culture.its real a disgrace to such couple and having people supporting them
Let us embrace the love of GOD and want he meant for us.U all need to repent and get bak to GOD
Thanks
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Mzi 2/14/2013 2:23:14 PM Down Up Reply REPLY

Dude I'd assume that you are a christian, if so you should know that God works in miraculous ways that non of us can ever really comprehent. He can use anyone in any situation for his glory. You are in no position to dictate how people should live thier lives or claim to have a full knowledge of what God want from them. In simple terms..You are in no position to judge.

My humble advise to you is to find help and deal with your internalized homophobia and come into terms with your sexuality fast!

Peace!
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Bruce Knotts 2/14/2013 2:23:14 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Get a life. Africans have been loving the same gender since the beginning of Africa and remember that Jesus the Son of God, had a Beloved Disciple that used to lay on his bosom and put HIS head on the chest of Jesus. Sounds very GAY to me. So as you worship Jesus, remember he was a GAY man.
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Prince 2/14/2013 2:00:48 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
very interesting story , was planned to get married to my boyfriend but now i feel like its a dream to my life
wish all the best in your marriage life , love each other more
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rich cpt 2/14/2013 1:58:53 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
What a beautiful & courageous couple. Your story bought a tear of emotional happiness to my eyes. I wish you and your families many many happy years of love, peace & good health. Keep you flame held high you are amazing
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zee 2/14/2013 1:28:43 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
very intresting,am so amaze..
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Mthandazo 2/14/2013 1:06:49 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Interesting story....
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2/14/2013 1:02:24 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Good to see blackmen making a difference in the LGBT community
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king miso 2/14/2013 12:43:49 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow really nice story.
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enzo 2/14/2013 12:01:50 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
U guy r a true inspiretion 2 all so us.wishing u 2 all de best of luck on making othrs aware dat we r truely here 2 stay nd long live de LGBTI community long live....
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freddy 2/14/2013 11:25:33 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
bravo guys ur doing great wish u luck and all the best! You are a positiv example for all gay's and lesbians in SA!! Fred
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Cameron 2/14/2013 11:25:33 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Yes, we need more positive influences in the LGBTI community.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"- I strongly believe in this saying and that is what my partner and I are doing.
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Ryan 2/14/2013 11:25:33 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Congratulations to both of you, I appreciate and thank you for the courage to do what you believed and actually is right. In this world where economic inequities, exploitation of both men and women, climate change (a euphemism of course for global warming), various prejudices based upon race, sexuality, class, gender, and so forth, the issue of same sex marriage is important in that those who want it should have it and at the same time, it must not be looked upon by those who dislike it or hate it as the end of the world as it were. This world has so many various issues that this is nothing compared to man exploiting man in the various ways illustrated above and demonstrated by the ancient philosophers and in modern one's and others who had the insight to see what humanity was doing to itself so for both of you and others who had the courage to do this in the world keep going and keep breaking down the barriers. The fact that barriers exist illustrates that humanity needs new values, ones that respect human dignity, recognizes our interdependence in politics, economics, sociology, and so forth and creates new values based upon the writers of the past, combining the wisdom of the ancients with the wisdom of the present. And as for those that oppose this union, I can only quote Louis Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Justice from Olmstead v United States, "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's [or anyone's] purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."
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Thapz 2/14/2013 11:09:19 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
May God keep blessing u guys, What an inspiration you both are, keep on loving each other and put each other first.
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David 2/14/2013 10:55:22 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
to Cam and his partner, wish you all the best guys, you are such an inspiration to us all, may the living God see you through!!!
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Cameron 2/14/2013 10:55:22 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Thank you for the blessings.
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Francois 2/14/2013 10:55:22 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Congratulations Cameron. May you grow old together. And be brave.
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Loren 2/14/2013 10:55:22 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Hi Cam, your story is very inspiring. We recently saw your traditional wedding on TV. We would like to speak to you on national radio. Please drop me a mail at no.1journo@gmail.com and I can give you some more info. Many thanks.
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