Meanwhile... Graphic short stories about everyday queer life in Southern and East Africa
By the Qintu Collab
Publisher: MaThoko's Books
Publication date: September 2019
Available for purchase at the GALA offices or internationally through the African Books Collective
So this work that we all do as artists and culture makers – we are creating a window. We create mirrors. We write ourselves an existence that transcends our proposed limitations. Where we have love and grace. And we show who we are. And that there is another way to see us.
– Selly Thiam, ‘Foreword’, Meanwhile...
Johannesburg, 29 September 2019 – MaThoko’s Books, an imprint of the GALA Queer Archives (GALA), is pleased to announce the launch of Meanwhile... Graphic short stories about everyday queer life in Southern and East Africa. Featuring contributions by eighteen queer youth from Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe, two academics, three artists and a journalist, it offers a refreshing antidote to one-dimensional depictions of African queer identities.
Meanwhile... brings together contemporary stories, affirming and disquieting stories, urban and rural stories. At its heart, the collection celebrates the diversity and fluidity of queer and African identities, offering a sometimes radical re-imagining of life on the continent. The overarching theme, however, is a sense of waiting, of struggling with, and being hopeful in the present. They frame the small moments of queer life, after the break, the revelation, the epiphany – the ‘what now’ after we have left home, the church, or the bad relationship. These stories move past the idea that ‘it gets better’ and instead focus on the queerness of the imperfect present, even as we strive toward a more just future.
‘Meanwhile... captures the visual representation of queer life in Africa and depicts a range of human emotions and experiences that abound in the lives of Africans, who identify variously along the sexuality and gender spectrums,’ says GALA director Keval Harie. ‘Central to these stories – and in their attendant relationships – is humanity. The writers showcase their artistry in delightful, thought-provoking ways. Themes that run through some of these stories range from disruption and dreams, to longing, lust and love.’
The Qintu Collab was formed to allow young queer people from a few African countries to come together, share experiences and create context-specific, queer-positive media that documents relatable stories about and for queer African youth. This collaboration is a necessary step in developing a complex archive of queer African life, whilst also personalising queer experiences and challenging prejudicial stereotypes. Young people from the Qintu Collab created personal timelines, and made visual maps of their bodies, relationships, and spaces. Participants in the Collab then worked with the comic artists to develop stories that represent their own lives/ narratives into Africa’s first queer collaborative comic.
The artistry of illustrators in Meanwhile... creates a world of visual splendour that breathes life and texture to these uniquely African stories.
For GALA, home to the MaThoko’s Books imprint, Meanwhile... represents a further step towards challenging mainstream depictions of sexual and gender diversity. ‘This publication allows readers to recognise the complexities of our lives – our joys and sorrows, our struggles and triumphs. Meanwhile... is of vital importance to the work of GALA, as it ensures in both a symbolic and practical way that the narratives of LGBTIQ people are preserved, celebrated and publicly accessible,’ says GALA director Keval Harie.