H28

In memory of David Kato

In memory of David Kato

In February 2014 Uganda passed a new anti-homosexuality bill which toughened penalties for gay people. Initially, the proposed bill included the death penalty for ‘repeat offenders’ and ‘aggravated’ homosexual acts, and imprisonment for those found guilty of not reporting gay people to the police.

Public support for the death penalty was and is still believed to be widespread. This has been whipped up by a frenzied media campaign to ‘out’ and shame gay people, and bolstered by Evangelical Christian Americans whose anti-gay campaigning has been persistent in recent years, and heavily influenced public opinion and policy. This has included the presentation of a petition to the Ugandan parliament claiming homosexuals are responsible for mass recruitment of young people and children into the ‘practice.’ It is no coincidence that the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill was drafted a few months later.

In 2011, whilst the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill was being tabled, Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay with the headline “Hang them”. After David Kato took the Rolling Stone to court, and won the case, he was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Police found no connection. But many believe his death was the result of vigilante gay-bashing.

David’s story was the starting point for what has been an extraordinary collaboration with exceptional individuals. H28 is a response to David’s story and the result of individual and ensemble searching, grappling, wrestling, with the themes that arise.

Our process has asked: Where does homophobia come from? Is being gay un-African? How can minority rights be understood by a majority? How can dance expression and story work to open up the issues and encourage tolerance? How can space, aesthetic, ritual and performance be used to reflect the dehumanizing, brainwashing impact of discrimination?

Many thanks and gratitude to Anthony Manion at GALA for assisting us with research, to Gabriel Khan for taking us on a tour through the gay history of Johannesburg, to Dumisani Dube who has provided insight, stories and time helping us get closer to people’s lived reality, to Nadine Joseph at the FATC office, to Jenni –Lee Crewe for housing and supporting the Director, to UJ and the festival for providing space for this work to live, and finally to PJ Sabbagha and FATC for limitless generosity, advice, support, inspiration and enabling this collaboration to happen.

Cast

  • Charlie Van Rooyen

  • Nicholas Aphane

  • Nosiphiwo Samente

  • Thabo Kobeli

  • Thulani Alfred Chauke

Crew

  • Choreographer: Mcintosh Jerahuni

  • Director: Melissa Eveleigh

  • Original Composers: Dave Carey & Js Bach

  • Arrangement & Sound Mix: Nicholas Aphane

  • Production Design: Sasha Elhers

  • Lighting Design: Thabo Pule

  • Artistic Mentorship: Pj Sabbagha

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