Hopped on Twitter and saw that the ‘Pearl of Africa’ film premiered at the Hot Docs documentary festival in Toronto yesterday.
In 2014, I read a story on Okayafrica’s site about a Ugandan transgender woman (Cleo Kambugu), who was speaking out about her experiences in the film: Pearl of Africa. I watched the Youtube series to find out more about the activist, and promptly started looking for Cleo Kambugu so I could do an in-depth story about her.
It took months before I was able to reach Cleo, and it was a challenge pitching the story to various outlets but I’m glad I didn’t give up. Sidenote: I’m starting to see the importance of trusting your gut as a reporter, and not giving up on a story even if it takes over a year to be published.
A Story of Radical Love and Acceptance in ‘The Pearl of Africa’ was about showing readers that being a Ugandan transgender woman, is more than just discrimination and despair. I loved the fact that she is engaged to a Ugandan man (Nelson), who loves and accepts her despite the intense judgement and rejection they both face.
One of the most shocking experiences Cleo shared with me was having to strip naked at the airport in Kigali, so a customs agent could confirm her identity by checking her genitalia. Read more about her experience here, and follow ‘Pearl of Africa’ on social media for updates.
Check out the Pearl of Africa trailer below.