Members of the Gay & Lesbian Network (GLN) have seen the film Inxeba and feel that it has received a large amount of positive views in an international platform. However, amaXhosa King Zwelonke Sigcawu, would prefer it didn’t show at all.
Anthony Waldhausen, the director and founder of the Gay & Lesbian Network, has claimed that the film ‘doesn’t focus on the Xhosa culture’ but rather on some of the difficulties faced by some men who are attracted to other men and the struggles they face within the culture.
He fears that most of the people who are speaking out against the film, most probably haven’t seen it, and if this is the case, he urges them to watch it before jumping to conclusions on what the film is trying to portray.
Abongile Matyila, who is Xhosa himself, also believes this. He says that people are getting ready to fight, due to the secretive nature of the Xhosa initiation ritual being displayed. He says that the trailer may have seemed disrespectful to many who saw it, as keeping the tradition secret is a normal part of the ritual that serves to preserve the nature and sanctity of the culture- a tradition which has been in place for hundreds of years.
“However, at the same time, there needs to be a space for people to express their sexual identity. The film does a lovely job in this as it shows that not all men who are homosexual are ‘out and proud’, and that there are other ways in which one can express their sexuality,” says Matyila. “This also plays into the themes of respect and caring for each other as men which are exhibited by culture. It challenges the traditional idea of what masculinity is supposed to be, and how, due to constraints from society, these lovers have managed to find a way in which to express their feelings for each other”. He adds that the story does not portray too much of the sacred ritual, but layers a context in which reality and story-telling can challenge our ordinary perceptions of masculinity, and portray the complex intersectionality between culture and identity.
Waldhausen is particularly concerned that one of the lead actors, Nakhane, has received very violent death threats over social media and recently had to cancel a trip to the Eastern Cape due to fearing for his life and safety. “He is just an actor portraying a reality, and this definitely counts as hate speech as it incites violence towards the LGBTI+ community. This highlights the fact that the delay in the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill is a major concern, says Waldhausen.
Pierre Buckley, the operational manager at GLN, echoes these concerns and reinforces the fact that Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill needs to be put into place ASAP. “You would think that in a country where diversity is celebrated, that we would not have such a tough time in accepting those who are different to us, be it racial, cultural, gender roles or religious differences” says Buckley.
The Gay & Lesbian Network acknowledges that our struggles are intersectional and the political difficulties minority groups might experience (including that of cultural groups) can be better addressed when we present a united front and embrace our differences within a safer, more tolerant space within our rainbow nation.
The Gay & Lesbian Network is a non-profit organisation which advocates for the upliftment and recognition of the LGBTI community. We offer various programmes and workshops, and encourage you to come forward if you have been a victim of a hate crime. We offer free counselling and work closely with other medical professionals. If you would like more information, please call us on 033 342 6165 or email email@example.com