Photo Credit: Screengrab from Ìfé

The 10 Best African LGBTQ+ Films to Watch This Pride Month

From lesbian love stories to documentaries about South African queer love, here is a list of LGBTQ+ films to watch for Pride month.

Historically, LGBTQ+ films have never been in the mainstream in countries around Africa, mainly because of the intolerance of the various film industries around the continent.

However, over the past decade, there has been progress, with significant representation of LGBTQ+ people on screen. These examples come mostly from independent filmmakers within several countries in the continent. But it hasn't been easy. Throughout Africa, there have been laws that not only ban these films but put a jail term that punishes the filmmakers who have put efforts to produce a nuance story of the lived experiences of queer people in films.

To celebrate the efforts of these filmmakers and to acknowledge these thought provoking stories that are inspired from the realities of LGBTQ+ individuals, OkayAfrica put in a list on the 10 LGBTQ+ films to watch for Pride month.

Braids on a Bald Head (2010)

Braids on a Bald Head is an award-winning Nigerian film directed by Isahaya Bako. It tells the story of a submissive wife who does everything for her husband. But having a new neighbor, who is much different from her, begins to change her perception. When things in her marriage get sour, she finds the strength to ask for better treatment after an experience that makes her question her sexuality.

Difficult Love (2010)

Zanele Muholi’s power as an artist and activist is beyond this planet. Difficult Love introduces us to Muholi’s life, while capturing the lives of several Black lesbians and their lived experiences in South Africa.

Coming out of the Nkuta (2011)

Coming out of the Nkuta tells the tale of a Cameroonian defense attorney who boldly defends arrested queer folks. The heartbreaking documentary speaks about the situation in Cameroon and the LGBTQ community who live in great fear.

Stories of Our Lives (2014)

Created by an art collective in Nairobi called The Nest Collective, Stories of Our Lives details the lived experiences of queer people in Kenya. The movie is an anthology that features five short films.

While You Weren’t Looking (2014)

While You Weren’t Looking aligns queerness with race and speaks on the struggle of queer women in South Africa. Twenty years after apartheid, two lesbian couples who live in Cape Town get separated. While they explore their different lives apart, their adopted daughter gets caught up in her own world, exploring her bi-sexuality. Her dilemma? She isn’t black enough — something her girlfriend helps her navigate.

Reluctantly Queer (2016)

Akosua Adoma Owusu's Reluctantly Queer, an eight minute short film, tells the story of a young Ghanaian man who struggles to keep two personal-contrasting factors balanced: his love for his mother and his sexuality.

The Wound (2017)

Directed by John Trengove, The Wound is a powerful movie that navigates masculinity. The movie is centered around a group of young boys from South Africa who get sent to a rural, remote camp where they will be initiated into manhood, in various ways.

We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2018)

We Don’t Live Here Anymore centers on two teenage boys who are caught in a romantic scandal that turns into tragedy. The film shows the reality of the class divide that exists in Nigeria and the capitalist hypocrisy that is accompanied with it.

Ìfé (2020)

Ìfé is a fascinating film that shows the intimacy between two queer women. The movie uses dialogue to tell the story of two women navigating a homophobic society. Written and directed by Uyaiedu Ike-Etim — and produced by Pamela Adie — the 37- minutes film communicates love and family.

Country Love (2022)

Wapah Ezeigwe's Country love is a story about two men who, after years of being apart, rekindle their love. But everything doesn’t go as planned. In the end, one is wafting for continuity, the other pirouettes away because of societal perception towards queerness. The film is a joyful celebration of the femme identity and communicates themes like departure, homophobia and the frill of belonging.

Photo Credit: David Avido Ochieng

How David Ochieng Uses Fashion to Positively Impact Kenyan Communities

David Ochieng is making waves as an emerging fashion designer. Putting his country on the fashion map, Ochieng remains in the orbit of community, deploying fashion as a vehicle for social change.

Born in Nairobi’s sprawling urban slums, David Ochieng, aka Avido, is a rising fashion designer whose work fuses African prints with modern, breezy tailoring. His label, Lookslike Avido, is commercial enough, with even an option to have clothes customized on the website. More than that, the label has a painstaking dedication to Kibera, the community Ochieng comes from.

His foray into fashion wasn’t easy. The firstborn in the family of four, Ochieng’s childhood was marred with difficulties. His mother was the sole breadwinner. She would do laundry for other people, and took odd jobs just to support him and his siblings. Lack of school fees worsened his situation. Eventually, he dropped out of school in form one.

David Ochieng flower pants

Photo Credit: David Avido Ochieng

Later, he would move from one construction site to the other looking for odd jobs to support his mother and his siblings. He found solace in new the friends he made. But, unfortunately, most of those friends had tragic ends: some started abusing drugs, others were killed, and a good amount started engaging in crime.

The fate of most of his friends made Ochieng do soul searching. He would find open and secluded places and practice unspoken words. He also relocated from Silangi to the Olympic area.This, according to Ochieng, was his way of confronting his demons and starting a new life.

“I didn't know whom to confide in. You would confide in someone and then they start telling people about your problems,” Ochieng told OkayAfrica. “So, I started speaking to nature. I would talk to myself to the extent of reciting my problems, through that, I was able to join a dance crew. We practiced daily in Kibera at a place called Olympic offering spoken word performance at weddings, political rallies and other events. Many young people here are desperate. Most of them are losing their lives to drugs and crime.”

The dance crew would dress up in hip clothing and donned dreadlocks. Little did they know that their new found hobby wouldn’t last for long. The dancing crew was mistaken for thugs leading to some being killed. As a result, his mother urged him to take a different path. One day, she gave him two of the five dollars she earned at work. He decided to invest the money into fabrics and sewing thread. That is when his life turned around and he officially launched his fashion design career, with Avido Fashion House debuting in 2018.

“I was inspired by my dance crew. I would do sketches for our costumes. That is when I realized that as much as I was expressing myself through dance and spoken word, I felt like I could express myself more through colors,” Ochieng said. “I realized that showing an individual's journey through fabrics while showing life lessons, and struggles is breathtaking. In essence, dancing pushed me into fashion.

“Fashion has enabled me to discover myself, and understand life in a deeper way,” Ochieng continued. “In addition, fashion has become my therapy as a way of healing from my childhood trauma.”

\u200b  Avido fashipn

Photo Credit: David Avido Ochieng

Today, Ochieng is one of the leading fashion designers in Kenya. He says that the streets of Kibera inspire his creativity. He also believes that Africa is very colorful and he wants the world to see that it is not only crime that is rampant in urban slums.

“I am trying to show people the greatness in Kibera. I am not the only one talented here because I know there are some people who are more talented and way better than me, but they don’t get the opportunities to share it out," Ochieng said. "What I am trying to share is the positivity, and hope we have here through the fabrics so that I don’t forget about my roots.”

Through his vocational training program that he began, Ochieng equips young mothers and those with hearing disability with tailoring skills. He believes that when you empower a woman, you are building the whole nation. He has started mentoring fifteen trained women — eight have hearing disability while seven are young mothers.

Aside from the vocational training, he has taken upon himself to pay school fees of the bright pupils in his community. He mostly targets the orphans whose parents succumbed to HIV/AIDs virus. He says these students, if not helped, might end up on the streets and succumb to peer pressure resulting in mistaken identities and even lose their lives.

David Avido Ochieng

Photo Credit: David Avido Ochieng

“I wanted someone to pay for my school fees, but no one came through. For me, paying school fees to the needy is a form of therapy,” Ochieng said. “I feel like I am healing the younger me.”

He also makes school uniforms for needy students in Kibera. So far, Ochieng distributed 786 uniforms to pupils in different schools. The process begins with the identification of the beneficiaries, where he randomly visits schools and spots those pupils with tattered uniforms and gives them new ones.

Filled with gratitude, Ochieng recalls the very first person he designed clothes for — the late Ken Okoth who was his area member of parliament. He wore his clothes to the parliament attracting celebrities and other politicians to his work.

Afterwards, legendary reggae artist Don Carlos came to perform in Nairobi, and David approached the event’s organizer to allow him make a custom shirt for the artist. When Carlos saw the shirt, he was thrilled and promised Ochieng a partnership to promote his work in the Caribbean. Through that encounter, Ochieng has been able to work with artists like Romain Virgo, Usain Bolt, Bruno Mars, Ghanaian Stallion, Tarrus Riley, Connie, Inge-Lise Nielsen, Everton Blendah, and more. His biggest moment came when was featured in Beyoncé’s album Black King which established his business.

Today, Ochieng’s clothes are worn all over the world over, from Africa to Europe, including the U.S. and the Caribbean. But, for him, African identity is what matters most, and it is reflected in his work and designs.

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