Archive | November, 2017

D-Empress: Dianne Regisford – 200 Women

16 Nov


I would like to congratulate my sister D-Empress: Dianne Regisford for being selected to be part of the phenomenal book and exhibition: 200 Women.

200 Women is a book and exhibition founded on original interviews and accompanying photographic portraits. This landmark project is the realisation of an epic global journey to find two hundred women with diverse backgrounds, and to ask them what really matters to them.


200 Women is a book and exhibition inspired by a belief that you can’t empower women without listening to their stories. The subsequent idea was to persuade two hundred women in different parts of the world – whether they be rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated, famous or unknown – to sit or stand in front of a plain sheet of fabric and to be photographed and filmed while answering five fundamental questions.

The goal was not to make a book about just successful and powerful women; those stories are important, but they wanted diversity, and above all, authenticity. Two hundred ‘real women’, with ‘real stories’.

Taken from the website

Gloria Steinem once said, ‘You can’t empower women without listening to their stories.’ We agree.
This book was inspired by that belief and our subsequent idea to persuade two hundred women in different parts of the world – whether they be rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated, famous or unknown – to sit or stand in front of a plain sheet of fabric and to be photographed and filmed while answering five fundamental questions.
Our goal was not to make a book about just successful and powerful women; those stories are important, but we wanted diversity, and above all, authenticity. Two hundred ‘real women,’ with ‘real stories.’
We sought to cut away distractions and the visual context of each woman’s life and to simply focus on her humanity as we asked:
What really matters to you?
What brings you happiness?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What would you change if you could?
Which single word do you most identify with?
We travelled as a small tight group. At every stop, we would set up our humble sheet of fabric in the quietest and lightest space we could find, from a dusty rooftop above the streets of Kolkata to a snow-covered art gallery in northern Sweden, to a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, to a hotel suite we could barely afford in New York, to a township in Cape Town where we were surrounded by beautiful kids who thought a Polaroid picture was a magic trick, to the earthquake-damaged hills of Nepal, to the leafy suburban streets of Sydney and to many other places.
With our backdrop in place, and a call for ‘Quiet on the set,’ one of us would begin asking each interviewee about her life and when they were ready, we would quietly ask our five questions, and we would listen.
The list of interviewees was a mix of well-known women and others we learned about as we researched and travelled. Many were introduced to us by generous friends, friends of friends, colleagues and kindred spirits in various corners of the globe. Among them artists, activists, entrepreneurs and even an astronaut, alongside business leaders, a goat herder, a nurse, and a brave Nepalese woman who has spent most of her life living on the streets of Kathmandu selling cigarettes – one at a time – to support her family.
Their responses simultaneously educated, humbled and inspired us. Some came from a place of deep sorrow, but over and over we encountered uplifting examples of kindness, selflessness, strength, wisdom, inspiration and the most compelling of all, truth. Writ large was the value, beauty and privilege of being able to just listen to these women, to truly see their humanity, and to recognise our own in doing so.
In the poorest places, we came face to face with the cruel and very real correlation between poverty and inequality. In those places we shed tears as we listened to the stories of girls trapped into the sex trade, married off to strangers at the age of ten or eleven, denied education and basic freedom, and subjected to all sorts of misery at the hands of men and a patriarchal culture that sadly is still very much in business.
Wherever we encountered these stories of ‘us and them’ there was almost always pain and division. But we also witnessed that when people truly see each other’s humanity, beautiful things become possible.
Ultimately the lesson of creating this book has been that there are no ordinary women, and there is no ‘us and them.’ There’s just us.
People like us.
Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday

Uganda’s leading media proprietor: Flavia Tumusiime

15 Nov


One of Uganda’s powerful media proprietors is my dear friend and sister, Flavia Tumusiime. She was one of the first Ugandan media personalities to be verified on her social media accounts. For those of you who do not know who Mzzz Fav is, here you go.

Flavia Tumusiime is a Ugandan actress, radio and television host, voice-over artist, emcee and author of 30 Days of Flavia.

30 Days of Flavia is a book with a series of thirty stories from the life and career of the protagonist and author, Flavia Tumusiime. The stories were published on Flavia’s Facebook page and later on her main website with the #30daysofflavia.

30 Days of Flavia started in August 2015. It started with how Flavia Tumusiime got a job at 91.3 Capital FM. The stories profile Flavia’s private and career life in a random order. She tells of how she got different media jobs what has kept her at most of her jobs. She advises her fans on how to deal with social, private and career problems. The stories were published daily on her Facebook page for 30 days. Every episode or chapter started with a title and would end with a piece of advice for the readers. Her last chapter titled “The Journey” was published just moments before appearing on NTV Uganda in an interview to officially close the stories of her life.

The purpose of the stories according to Flavia was to help the young people that were going through tough times and thought they were alone. 30 Days of Flavia tells of Flavia’s personal life which has mistakes, burdens and hard times, a life most of her fans never knew about.


More on who Flavia is:
Flavia has been a television presenter since she was teenager. She started presenting on WBS TV’s teen’s club, a show she did with other teens for four years. Between 2010 and 2012, she presented K-files, another program on WBS TV. Since 2011, she has presented the Guinness football challenge. It has been aired on NTV (Uganda) and ITV & KTN (Kenya). In the same period, she has been a VJ on Channel O. She was also a presenter for Big Brother Africa in 2012.


She presents a mid-morning radio show (AM-PM Show) on 91.3 Capital FM radio in Kampala. As an actress, she played the role of Kamali Tenywa (lead role) in Nana Kagga’s television series, Beneath The Lies – The Series. The series was nominated for an AMVCA 2016 award.


She has many accolades under belt that include:

• Young Achievers Award for Media and Journalism 2013
• Silver award in the best mid-morning show category at the 2013 Radio and TV awards.
• Teeniez role model in 2013 Buzz Teeniez Awards.
• Best Dressed Female Media Personality Of The Year – Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards 2015
• Best Female Radio Personality – Uganda Entertainment Awards 2016

Flavia is a revered emcee and global speaker. She currently is a news anchor on NTV, Uganda.

For more information or bookings:

What’s Cooking? A not-so-gentle reminder to African women on absconding from their duty

14 Nov

Great blog!!!

AfricanFeminism (AF)

I am sorry you’re behind the times. Can I bring you up to speed? Cooking is never a woman’s job. We train them to cook much as we train men like you to be misogynist, patriarchal, and sexist.”- @Bahiirwa. A twitter user had this response to tweet from one Ugandan man who thought of putting out a piece of advice to women on cooking and being modern.

Mathias Ssemanda, a self described blogger asked women to stop “abandoning” their duty of cooking.

Sexism on Ugandan twitter is common but so are the increasing number of young women’s voices and men who are ready to challenge the notion of gender roles like they were scribbled…

View original post 891 more words

Our Pan African LGBTQI activists: Unoma Azuah

13 Nov


As we move close to the start 16 Days of activism campaign, a campaign that was started to bring an end to violence against women and children, I have decided to dedicate blogs to activists that represent the LGBTQI communities of Africa. Initially, I was in full support of the campaign but over the past few years the meaning and importance of it has become blurred. Many corporates have now used it as a marketing campaign in their CSI departments thus increasing their BEE scorecards. Many people have seen it as a time that women should not be beaten during thats time, which I find rather preposterous, as violence should not be happening at all. Majority of the cases that are reported, involve women in heterosexual relationships, thus excluding the LGBTQI community, especially the Black LGBTQI community.

A few years back as we were launching the One Billion rising campaign in Johannesburg, our late sister, Prudence Mabele, was displaying a very thought provoking exhibition, honouring women from the LGBTQI community who had been murdered and their cases had not been solved. As I examined the exhibition, I saw in horror, a name of a person that I once knew and mentored. I had lost contact with my late sister, over the previous year and I could not understand why. That cold hard reality was that she was murdered but as she was a black lesbian, not much noise was made in the media nor was there an urgent appeal from the police to find and prosecute her killers.
I have decided to write a few blogs, honouring activists and poets who highlight these plights and honour those who had been killed for simply living their truth and their lives. The first lady that I pay homage to is Unoma Azuah

Unoma Azuah is a Nigerian writer, author, and activist whose research and activism focus on LGBT writing in Nigerian literature. She has published three books, two of which have won international awards. She focuses on issues relating to queer Nigerians, such as in Blessed Body: Secret Lives of LGBT Nigerians (2016).

Azuah was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu in Delta State of Nigeria. She attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where, as an undergraduate, she edited the English department literary journal called The Muse and received the awards of the best Creative Writing student for two consecutive years: 1992 and 1993. She has a Bachelor of Art in English, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1994), a Masters in English from Cleveland State University, Ohio (2001) and a Masters in Fine Art from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (2003).

Azuah is the first Nigerian to give LGBTQI issues consistent visibility in the Nigerian literary scholarship. She left Nigeria in 1999, after receiving numerous threats to her life on account of her work, and now splits her time between the US and Nigeria to continue assisting and working with the Nigerian LGBTQI community.

Of her work, Azuah has said “I’ve always explored the theme of sexuality in my writing, especially in my poems and non-fiction pieces. Edible Bones is actually inspired by a true story. The life of the major character loosely reflects the life of a Nigerian immigrant I met. He happened to be highly homophobic, but when he goes to jail and becomes a point of attention for bullies, a homosexual guy happens to be his saviour.”
Of the anti-gay law in Nigeria, she has also said the following: “I feel that the Nigerian leadership is using the matter as a tool to distract Nigerians from genuinely pressing concerns like the lack of economic opportunity and infrastructure. The strong wave of fundamentalist Christianity sweeping over Nigeria fuels the distraction of this topic which should not be up for national debate because what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom should concern no one.
Her exploration of gay themes in her work, and “defence of queer sex”, for a Nigerian-based writer has been described as “a courageous act indeed.”. Now a citizen of the USA, she continues to stay “deeply involved in her homeland by sharing stories of the persecution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community there.” Azuah currently teaches writing at the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago.

Her publications include:

• Night Songs. Lagos: Oracle, 2002. A collection of Poetry
• Sky-high Flames. Frederick, MD: Publish America. July, 2005. A novel.
• The Length of Light. Germany: VDM; Dr. Müller, 2008. A collection of short stories.
• Edible Bones. New York: Demarche Publishing, 2013. American edition. A novel.
• On Broken Wings: An Anthology of Best Contemporary Nigerian Poetry. New York: DLite, 2014.
• Blessed Body: The Secret Lives of the Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender: non-fiction. Jackson, TN: Cookingpotbooks, 2016

• The Urban Spectrum National Best Novel of the year 2006 by an African born writer for Sky-high flames[8]
• Best fiction writer of the year 2006 for Sky-high Flames, Association of Nigerian Authors/Flora Nwapa award for fiction, 2006
• The Griot Hero award for civic engagement with Adult and High school students, West Tennessee, 2008
• Nominee, Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award, Indiana University, 2009
• Aidoo-Snyder Book Award, Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association, for Edible Bones, 2011[9]
• Winner, Hellman-Hammett award for Sky-high Flames[2]

She wrote the poem: The choke of grief

I invoke their names:
Desire Ntombana
Mandisa Mbambo
Phumeza Nkolonzi
Thapelo Makutle
Neil Daniels
Sanna Supa
Sasha Lee Gordon
Hendrietta Morifi
Nokuthula Radebe
Noxolo Nogwaza
Nqobile Khumalo
Ntsiki Tyatyeka
Tshuku Ncobo
Milicent Gaika survives
But the list lingers
A cascade of lives lived and loved
Plump fruits crushed
on the barren bough of hate
Their lives thumb my prayer beads
Sorrow mutes my plea to heaven
I choke on their mangled bones
I choke on their mangled bodies
Strangled, raped, clubbed, shot
Beaten, tortured, slashed with
Knives of blunt hunt
Carved beyond the hearts of animals
But these are my family
The pain is the heat of burning meat
Flesh charred on the flames of bigotry
These are my clan whose bodies have been
Scarred by the claws of hate
Girly Nkosi
Eudy Simelane
Khanyiswa Hani
Sibongile Mphelo
Daisy Dube
Madoe Mafubedu
Thokozane Qwabe
Salome Masooa
Sizakele Sigasa
Zoliswa Nkonyana
Mpho Setshedi……….
These are my family
As their ashes circle my anguish
Their names swell with the whirlwinds
I choke in my grief
And watch their spirits
roll off the slabs of the slain
And rise
like a burst of butterflies
into the horizon
These are my kindred
If there’s a God, she must hear
my cry for justice.
© 2012

*This poem is dedicated to my Queer family, victims of the brutal hate crimes in South Africa:
Sihle (19), stabbed to death by a group of gangster in Philip township, Cape Town;
Phumeza (22), lesbian, shot three times in her home in front of her grandmother, in Mau Mau, Nyanga, Cape Town;
Mandisa (33), stabbed to death and allegedly raped at her home in Inanda township, Durban
Thapelo (24), gay man, brutally murdered in Kuruman, Northern Cape;
Neil, transgender person, murdered in Cape Town;
Sanna (28), lesbian, shot dead in her home in Soweto; Sasha, trans woman, stabbed to death in Wynberg;
Hendrietta (29), aka Andritha, lesbian, murdered in her home in Polo Park, Mokopane in Limpopo;
Nokuthula (20), lesbian, strangled with one of her shoelaces in Everest;
Noxolo (24), lesbian, brutally beaten to death in Kwa-Thema, Johannesburg;
Nqobile (23), lesbian, murdered, her body found in a shallow grave near her parents’ home in KwaMashu, Durban;
Ntsiki (21), lesbian, murdered, her decomposed body was discovered a few metres from her home in Nyanga East, Cape Town; Tshuku(26), found dead, believed to have committed suicide;
Girly  (37), lesbian, stabbed and died of her injuries in KwaThema, Springs;
Eudy (31), lesbian, raped and murdered in KwaThema, Springs;
Khanyiswa (Lhoyie) (25), stabbed and murdered in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth;
Sibongile (21), raped, her vagina mutilated, shot and killed in Strand, Cape Town;
Daisy, trans woman in her 20s, shot dead in Yeoville, Johannesburg;
Madoe (16), lesbian, raped and stabbed to death in Kliptown, Soweto;
Thokozane (23), lesbian, stoned to death in KwaZulu-Natal;
partners Salome (23), lesbian mother, and Sizakele (34), lesbian, both raped, tortured and murdered in Meadowlands, Soweto;
Zoliswa (19), lesbian, stoned to death in Khayelitsha, Cape Town;
Mpho (27), lesbian soccer player, shot dead in her home in Yeoville, Johannesburg;
Millicent (31), lesbian, suffered ‘curative rape’ and severely beaten in Gugulethu, Cape Town.
She is a survivor.

For more information on how you support the LGBTQI community:


OUT provides direct health services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, MSM, sex workers, and injecting drug users, including HIV testing, counselling, treatment and general lifestyle advice and support.

OUT has been in existence for more than 21 years and is dedicated to the building of healthy and empowered LGBT communities in South Africa and internationally, while reducing hetrosexism and homophobia in society.

The Durban Lesbian & Gay Community & Health Centre (a project of the KZN Coalition for Gay & Lesbian Equality) is a Drop-In Centre, safe and secure space for lesbian, transgender, gay, bisexual, and intersex communities in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal.


Thami Dish Foundation seeks to support young, LGBTI individuals from disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

One of our core objectives is to encourage and motivate young LGBTI members to dream beyond their current circumstances and moreover, to equip them with the necessary tools to propel themselves forward.

The Thami Dish Foundation offers positive, affirming, support to LGBTI youngsters with a view to contributing to a future where sexual diversity is fully understood and embraced within the South African society. We envision a tolerant and compassionate society where diversity is valued and appreciated.

Lydia Forson: My African Dustler: A Diva Who Hustles

6 Nov


In my previous blogs I have mentioned that I conducted the casting for Tinsel Ghana and Kenya. During the Ghanaian sessions I had the fortunate experience of meeting the acclaimed actress, Lydia Forson. Like kindred spirits we hit it off immediately. A few years later she came to South Africa as she was cast in the South Africa soap opera: Scandal. Back then many South Africans were not aware of the Pan African entertainment industry and therefore were not aware of the acclaimed artisans that emerge from across Africa, for us it was a great move and achievement. We continually crossed paths on our different interactions across the continent. Lydia is a go-getter, loves life and believes in standing up for justice, when the situation arises, I suppose that is why we are so alike. That is why she is my ultimate: DUSTLER!! A DUSTLER is a diva who hustles. A term I learnt from another Ghanaian DUSTLER, Anita Erskine.
I should also add that both Lydia and I are a little cray cray and have the capability of screeching very loud when seeing each other. In 2012 at the Ama-awards – African Movie Academy Awards , which took place in Lagos Nigeria, I was in the reception area, waiting for something when I heard a voice that I recognised, I turned around and it was Lydia. Normal people would have just greeted but the two of us were so crazy and happy that we both screeched at the sight of each other. One of life’s beautiful moments, that I will never forget.

The rest of that weekend we were thick as thieves. I was rather irritated when we were on the red carpet and a certain African TV presenter started to interview her and in the middle of the interview, the presenter said ‘ stop sorry I need to interview the Holywood guy.’ The ‘Hollywood guy’ was Issaih Washington, the Greys anatomy actor who was fired fin 2007. I was furious and let the presenter, (who I had actually trained when she started her career in 2010) and her producer know that we should celebrate our international stars in the same light as our African ones. The rest of the weekend was full of laughs and plotting our next moves across Africa. We remained in contact and of course she joined the WAKA family.
In 2016 while I was living in Uganda, she was visiting and of course we met and had an absolute blast. I secured an interview for her with our other Waka star Brian Mulondo on one of my shows that I headed at the time.
Lydia and myself at the AMA-Awrds 2012.

Lydia and myself hanging out in Uganda and Lydia with the WAKA star Brian Mulondo.

For those of you, who do not know who she is, this is Lydia Forson:

She is an award-winning Ghanaian actress, writer, and producer. In 2010 she won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Lydia Forson’s acting career started with a cameo role in Hotel St. James (2005), Run Baby Run (2006), Different Shades of Blue (2007) and a stint in the reality show The Next Movie Star in Nigeria (2007).
Shirley Frimpong Manso, CEO of Sparrow Productions, who had previously worked with her in the Ghanaian television series Different Shades of Blue brought Lydia Forson back to the screens through the movie Scorned. This starring role led to her first African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) nomination as the Best Upcoming Female Actress.
In 2009, Lydia Forson starred in the award-winning The Perfect Picture. She has starred in A Sting in a Tale, Phone Swap and Masquerades. Lydia’s passion for her work is demonstrated in the extent to which she lives out characters in her movies.

Her Filmography includes:
• Hotel St. James (2005) – Cameo Roles
• Run Baby Run Becky (2006) – supporting role[5]
• Different Shades of Blue (2007)
• The Next Movie Star Reality Show (2007) – Third Runner Up
• Scorned (2008) – Lead Role
• The Perfect Picture (2009) – Supporting Role
• A Sting in a Tale (2009) – lead role[6]
• Masquerades (2011)
• Phone Swap (2012)[7]
• Kamara’s Tree (2013)
• “Scandal” (2013) (South African Series) – Aku[8]
• A Letter From Adam (2014) Writer/Producer[9][10]

Her awards include:
2009 – African Movie Academy Award Nominee
2010 – African Movie Academy Award Best Actress in a lead role[11]
2012 – Ghana Movie Awards Best Screenplay ‘In The Cupboard’

Just over the past weekend she won the award for her performance in the Peter Sedufia directed film, Keteke, at AFRIFF. African International Film festival.

AFRIFF is week-long annual film festival that takes place in Nigeria Founded in 2010 by Chioma Ude, The event normally the festival features award shows and film training classes for industry players. This year’s edition, which took place from October 29 to November 4, was climaxed with the AFRIFF Globe Awards Globe Awards at the Eko Hotel & Suites.


Lydia also writes a thought provoking blog, that can be found via In her blog she serves a fine tea of woman issues—and occasionally runs into politics, causing havoc with her honesty and opinions. One of my favourite pieces included the following one, posted on October 9.


Her blog writes:
So guess who took over the runway at this years Glitz Fashion Week!!
You guessed right. Meeeeeeee!!!!
I still remember cat walking in my living room in  as a kid and telling everyone I was going to be a model.
Then the world stopped me before I could even dream any further,  by telling me I was too big to ever walk the runway.
Who’s laughing now?
There are no limitations to what you can  do with your life. if you put your mind to it and you’re determined, the world will have no choice but to accommodate you.
Big thank you to Latasha of for allowing me to do this and Abaya of Lagos for the amazing outfit. 

Lydia believes that the day we stop dreaming we end our existence, and that only dreams give us a hope and something to live for.