Creating safe spaces for queer narratives in Botswana


Pics: TronicArts Photography

Following the recent historic legalisation of homosexuality in Botswana, an exciting new initiative is opening up opportunities for LGBTQ+ self-expression and dialogue in Gaborone.

On 15 June, ARTvism blog hosted the first Banana Club, described as “a platform aimed at informing, inspiring and engaging with the community in an effort to lead relevant and dynamic conversations.”

Held at Zest Restaurant, the introductory session set out to unpack the topic of “Mental Health Awareness in the Queer Community”.

The session was facilitated by Tanlume Enyatseng, while a panel of experts addressed what is currently in place and what more can be done to tackle mental health in the community. The panellists were; Ratanang Mosweu Men for Health and Gender Justice Organisation, activist Botho Maruatona and Sewelo Sosome of Black Queer DocX.

“The queer community suffer from mental health problems at a high rate, yet there is currently no specialised provision of healthcare for us,” commented Enyatseng, who also organised the event.

“This seems like a big problem, especially when existing facilities do not always prove to be effective. If you’ve ever dealt with mental health professionals who were totally bemused by the way you presented/identified or have had a loved one who has experienced a mental health crisis we urge you to join the conversation.”

The session was split into two halves; one being dedicated to sharing personal experiences, with each participant free to contribute as much or as little as they wanted, and the second addressing more general questions around mental health.

“We won’t be offering mental health ‘advice’ but rather looking at how the current system is succeeding or failing,” explained Enyatseng.

With the help of the community, wants to pinpoint where healthcare is failing LGBTQ+ people and to propose ways that might remedy this. The session was documented by TronicArts Photography as part of a research process.

Banana Club aims to create a network that builds ties with key stakeholders to challenge discourse, educate, empower and engage Batswana at large on matters affecting the youth and the queer community. The sessions will happen as and when burning social issues need to be addressed.

“The mental health crisis amongst queer people is an issue of national relevance. We need to collaborate with the communities we work and live with to find solutions to issues and problems that affect us. All this can be achieved, but community and concerted effort are key,” said Enyatseng.

Last week, Botswana became the latest country in Africa to decriminalise same-sex relations, when the High Court found that the nation’s “sodomy laws” violate privacy, liberty, and dignity; are discriminatory, and serve no public interest.

For more information about Banana Club, contact Tanlume Enyatseng on

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