THE REPORT OF AN AFRICAN QUEER CONGRESS HELD ON THE 25TH DAY OF JUNE 2023 BY THE QUEER UNION FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION (QUEST9ja).
QUEST’s An African Queer Congress was a pride month virtual symposium held on Twitter (now X) spaces of QUEST’s official Twitter handle (@QUEST9ja) on Sunday, the 25th of June 2023 between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. WAT.
The virtual symposium was aimed at exploring the avenues for building continental solidarity for the African queer liberation struggle especially in the midst of the ongoing crackdown on the rights and lives of our queer comrades in Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana.
An African Queer Congress also aimed to provide an inclusive platform to have meaningful conversations and insights about the ongoing state-sanctioned queerphobic violence in Uganda and Kenya while initiating dialogues on strategies for extending Pan-Africanist solidarity to queer Ugandans and Kenyans. This report provides an overview of the virtual symposium, the highlights, key discussions, and outlines of the outcomes.
Keynote speeches and presentations:
The symposium hosted two queer activists as keynote speakers, Godiva and Seise Bagbo from Uganda and Kenya respectively.
An African Queer congress commenced with an opening speech by the Chair of QUEST’s central committee, Ani Kayode Somtochukwu.
He highlighted the importance of platforms like An African Queer Congress and added that QUEST is an action-oriented activist collective that won’t take for granted the outcomes of the symposium as historically evidenced by the Queer Naija protest march which followed a similar virtual symposium held in the past by QUEST.
Ani also reiterated QUEST’s position on the sanctions and economic bullying from Western governments which is that they are imperialist in nature and also objectively work against queer Africans and our national liberation interests.
Following the keynote speeches offering a detailed insight into the current state of the LGBTQ+ movement and community in both Uganda and Kenya, several issues and topics were discussed such as :
- The impact analysis of the NGO model of queer organizing and its limitations as a tool for robust community-oriented radical queer resistance that’s needed to match the forces of state-sanctioned queerphobia in Africa.
- Leveraging Technology in solidarity building while being conscious of the security risks it poses to queer Africans living in Africa.
- Western Evangelicals as the drivers of queerphobic legislative campaigns in Africa. The results of their funding and collusion with the corrupt African ruling class. The need to be more proactive in fighting their dishonesty and Christo-fascist ideology that is structured to fundamentally uphold white supremacy and cis-hetero patriarchal norms, all of which are antithetical to the goal of continental decolonization and queer liberation.
- The importance of solidarity/support from indigenous political organizations in Africa like Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Socialist Workers League (SWL) in South Africa and Nigeria respectively. While understanding the points of friction that emanate from these mobilizations, particularly because of how rampant queerphobia remains with the African left.
- Housing as a critical theater of the queer liberation struggle in a queerphobic society that weaponizes homelessness against poor and working-class queer people.
- Suggestions on grassroot and mainstream queer organizations organizing in Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana. Including the paths and ways to support the work they are doing.
- Imagining means and ways of building a global pan-Africanist resistance against all manner and nature of queerphobia on the continent.
Networking and collaborations :
Participants of the virtual symposium were encouraged to spotlight queer organizations doing good work in different parts of Africa, and ways of building support networks around these organizations.
The Queer Union for Economic and Social Transformation reiterated its commitment as an activist collective engaged in initiating and sustaining Pan-Africanist solidarity against queerphobia on the continent, especially now as anti-colonial military coups pledging itself to the Pan-Africanist dream sweeps the West African continent, particularly in Francophone West Africa.
An African Queer congress succeeded in bringing together about three dozen queer Africans from different corners of the continent to explore solidarity, resistance, queer joy and revolution building, even within the conditions of corrupt, fascistic and dehumanizing legislative and physical attacks unleashed by neoliberal governments in our respective countries.
The symposium highlighted the power of community and reinforced the hope of an Africa, filled with fulfillment and free of queerphobia. In the paraphrased words of one of the participants, “we can’t wait to be seen by people who can’t see us and so we would be like water. Do you see what water does to people it doesn’t like?“
QUEST Nigeria extends immense gratitude to our speakers (Godiva Akullo and Seiese Bagbo ) and to all the participants for the incredible contributions they made to the quality and success of our virtual symposium.
We hope that this report provides a comprehensive overview of the virtual symposium and its outcomes and encapsulates the hope that keeps the queer liberation struggle aflame on this continent, even after centuries of colonial abuse and brainwashing that has mobilized our people behind reactionary ideologies like queerphobia, ableism, xenophobia, misogyny, ethnic chauvinism, capitalism, etc.
We are Africans. We are queer. And as queer Africans, we understand the historical task we must take up within the wider continental decolonisation process. We understand that it is a marathon and not a sprint, and we are convinced without a shadow of doubt that our victory is only a matter of when and how, not if.
Aluta continua, Victoria ascerta.