1. Who is Gigi? (Where are you from? Where did you grow up? What do you miss the most about your childhood? What do you miss the least? Gigi is a human rights defender, social activist, proud lesbian and a Feminist. I grew up in Kampala Uganda where my fierce, single mother of three had relocated to. My childhood was one filled with love and adventure because I was always looking out to learn new things through the numerous amounts of reading materials my mother always brought home on topics ranging from history, geography, astrology and biology. Sometimes I think this is where my love for the above topics was slowly moulded into the interest I currently strongly hold on to. I was an outdoorsy child too, and exploring my environment included fishing for catfish in the nearby swamp, tadpole fishing at the well and eating the very readily available array of fruits on the fruit trees till I couldn’t move. These outdoor activities became hobbies. Growing up, I was the first born of three and the only girl. I loved my childhood, every single bit of it, including the hard parts (which were quite a lot coming from a back ground that wasn’t privileged). All these trying times brought my family even closer, with an appreciation for the value of love, which has kept us together even in the hardest of times. I couldn’t say theres anything I miss the least.
2. How did you come into your activism? Think of a moment, either of witnessing injustice or justice that made you realise that a different life can be lived in this earth. Hmmm….lets see. Well, there are a number of cases that contribute to my activism. In the beginning it was from a point of anger. Anger around all the times a teacher touched me in a way I knew wasn’t right but I had no one to tell or the know-how of how to begin; anger around how I had to stop going for swimming in primary school (which I actually loved by the way) because of that creepy swimming instructor who continuously insisted on holding my by my chest while ‘teaching me how to float’; anger from being laughed at by boys in class (primary) when I soiled my dress during my periods (which I was quite ashamed being the only girl who had started them in class 6); angry because we had to watch my mother almost break herself trying to raise us alone because my father’s side denied us inheritance rights after his death because my mother wasn’t from his tribe and wasn’t legally married to him; angry because I knew I liked girls at a very young age but I had to battle with these feelings for years because there was no one to talk to about what I felt without being condemned; angry at the missed opportunity to a higher education in a good college because my papers could not be graded because they talked about the violence SOGIE people face as a human rights violation topic; especially angry when the said campus set a dress code for me to box me into an expression that they expected me to have with consequences like denial of entry into the school gate if I did not look the part…I could go on and on. These cases of discrimination and injustices pushed me right into the center of activism to offer all I basically can in the fight for equality in all its glory and non-discrimination and non-violence.
3. What inspires you daily? It can be people, it can be things? What inspires me daily is my mother to begin with. She is at the center of my strength. Second, is the foresight of the future I want the generation after ours to have. Amidst all the difficulty and strain lies that beautiful place we all want to live in. Finally, people who remind us that the efforts we make are not a waste of ourselves; that someone, somewhere out there has listened and change for the best of us all, whether small or large has been influenced.
4. Do you believe that the future we work hard to achieve is possible? What gives you hope? I wouldn’t be doing what I do now, would I? I have hope in the great work we all do in our various ways. We might not see the change because we will be busy fighting for it but the next generation definitely deserves it!
5. What can you absolutely not live without? A peaceful mind. It starts with you. ….and my cat.
6. What is your favourite time of the day? When I get home from a hard days work and have my herbal tea (if you know what I mean).
7. How can we strengthen our work as queer/feminist women/womxn/gnc people in Africa? I always say, theres no one way to achieve this. A multi sectional and multi-sectoral direction should be taken. Everyone has a role to play to put this plan in motion. But first, a sense of unity with respect for diversity and difference in approaches should be realized. Once this is achieved, we should further support each othe in the various spaces and diverse approaches that we chose to embark on in the many corners of this continent. Some will take the academia way, others the legal and policy change way, others will take to the streets, some will take a traditional and cultural approach and others will take the digital and online way. Regardless of the above, we are all fighting for an equality that is paramount to the whole of society. Not just the women/womeyn and womynx. A society that gives equal rights to all aspects of the word to the mentioned communities, is a society free from so many developmental, economical and social challenges that almost all societies are facing. Empower the womyn, empower the world, I usually say.
8. What would you do with a million dollars? Invest most of it till I figure out what to do with it while it generates more income, the rest of it, I would sponsor one or two orphaned elephants at the rhabilitation center till they are old enough to be released back into the wild and finally donate to an environmental protection organisation.