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'The Pearl Of Africa,' A Documentary About Love, Hate & Being Transgender In Uganda, Debuts Powerful Trailer

Watch the trailer for 'The Pearl of Africa,' a forthcoming documentary about love, hate and being transgender in Uganda.

Cleo and Nelson in Thailand. Photo: Jonny von Wallström. Courtesy of The Pearl of Africa.


The Pearl of Africa tells the radical story of a 28-year-old transgender Ugandan woman, Cleopatra Kambugu, and her fiancé, Nelson. Director Jonny Von Wallström takes viewers inside their fight for love and acceptance in one of the most transphobic countries in the world.

The project began as a web series in late 2014, which Okayafrica closely followed. At the time, the filmmakers launched an indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Cleo’s sex reassignment surgery. The campaign was successful–in February 2015, they raised $14,000–and the couple traveled to Thailand for Cleo’s surgery. The full-length documentary continues to follow Cleo and Nelson after the surgery.

The film will soon make its world premiere at Hot Docs (April 28 - May 8) in Toronto, where it’s competing in the festival’s International Spectrum. Today, the filmmakers share the powerful first trailer for The Pearl of Africa. Watch below.

For more, read our interview with Cleo and Nelson.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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