Former Amakorokoza star Frank Malaba, well known as Dr Phumza by followers of the series might be a man President Robert Mugabe will never like to listen to talking.
Following a public revelation that he was gay, the South African actor-cum-radio personality opens up about marriage, his childhood as a gay student and his views on gay rights in an exclusive interview with NewsDay.
Malaba became the first Zimbabwean to declare that he loves other men.
Asked how his life has been after he opened up: “My life has been changed around for the better and I get inbox messages from young and old alike saying they respect my standing and who I am. I get young Zimbabweans, South Africans and on occasion Tanzanians and Kenyans asking for advice.
“On one occasion I got a message from a Zimbabwean man who has been married out of fear of being persecuted by family and friends for his sexual orientation.”
He talks about his profile picture which shows him kissing his partner Lee Lucas Strydom and about their marriage plans.
Frank is candid: “(On the kissing) Funny enough, I have had no hostile messages. We have always been out. That picture has been there for over a year. Lee and I are in it for the long haul.”
On marriage: “I don’t see why not. As for the invite to the wedding and when, you will know . . . It won’t be a secret.”
Malaba is the host of the only gay talk show in Africa and he is proud of his work.
The show, dubbed “Outspoken”, is sponsored by HIVOS/Arcus Foundation from The Netherlands, an independent initiative that aims to connect gay and lesbian communities and to promote their positive contribution to society.
The weekly radio show airs on Mondays from 2100 to 2200 hours on 1485AM band in Gauteng, South Africa and DStv audio 169 southern African region.
President Mugabe has come out strongly against homosexuality and says those who practise it are worse than dogs and pigs.
The issue of gay rights is set to dominate Zimbabwe’s constitution-making process with Zanu PF trying to use the issue to de-campaign its opponents.
Malaba weighs in with his thoughts: “My biggest worry in Zimbabwe is the way HIV is treated like a big topic that government sectors want to address and they don’t realise that a lot of the answer in dealing with the issue is in addressing issues of MSM.”
MSM, Malaba explains means “Men who have Sex with Men.”
“We may all pretend there are no gay people in Zimbabwe but the sooner we realise that most MSM are also married to women and who can easily cross pollinate the virus to their families.
The issue will never be dealt with.
“Prisons are a breeding place for STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases) to get passed on to families as there are MSM and the government makes no effort in admitting that rape or consensual sex happens in prisons.
“It is like feeding a baby with one hand and poisoning it with another.”
Malaba said other African countries like South Africa, Namibia and Kenya were embracing gay rights.
“Including gay people in the Zimbabwean Constitution would not make Zimbabwe a gay country. It would show that they acknowledge human rights as a whole. What kind of democracy says it protects the rights of citizens except for ones that are gay?”
But being a homosexual is a departure from the African cultural norms and values.
“What is African Culture? Is there a thing called African Culture? Some cultures kill albinos; because they deem them weird and different, so they kill albino babies. Does that make it right?
“Yes, with that same breath my friend . . . Not all African cultures see homosexuality as weird and scandalous.”
On his childhood: “I had a normal childhood with the same privileges as any other student. I had no desire to date then. I might be gay but I am not stupid. As a gay person, you go through teenage life as a square peg in a round hole.
“Everybody around you is trying to find
themselves. If you tamper with that process you make mistakes and you end up experimenting with adolescents that are confused by their own sexual development.”
He added: “Many a boy goes through the wondering phase. I met many of those but never got tempted. I knew what I wanted to be when I was six and I stuck with it. I am still here. I write, I perform . . ! I facilitate workshops on xenophobia here. I have a purpose because acting gives you compassion for the human race.”
His advice to those who judge others: “All we can do is believe in the truth that lies within ourselves because we are all made different. And that is not a mistake.
“Here in South Africa, nobody has ever asked me about my sexual orientation even though they see pictures of Lee on my desktop or on my iPod.”