Malawi: Queer Representation in Malawi’s Media – From ‘Horrendous’ to a Possible Example for Others to Follow

A series of four articles examines issues of policy, laws, rights, culture, popular culture, language, stigma, crimes, discrimination and individual experiences of the queer community in four African countries.

In the one-bedroom shack she lives in, in the Cape Flats township of Tambo Village, Tiwonge Chimbalanga keeps a file containing press clippings.

It is close on 12 years since Chimbalanga, a transgender woman, made world headlines after being arrested in Malawi for marrying her then-partner, Steven Monjeza, in what was the country’s first same-sex marriage. Among the press clippings in her file, however, there is only one report from a Malawian newspaper.

On a torn black-and-white page (making it difficult to tell which publication it was printed in), the report speaks of how “the issue of gays has caused a lot of stress to the nation”.

Chimbalanga (or “Aunty Titi”, as she is affectionately known) is not quoted in the story.

“Me, I did not talk to any journalists from Malawi,” she says, firmly. “Only my lawyers talked to those journalists. Me, Aunty Titi, I did not speak to anyone. No.”

As to why she refused to speak to her fellow countrymen, she simply says: “Because you know mos, journalists…

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