YALI Voices Podcast: Three Champions Working Toward Tolerance and Acceptance for All

 

YALI Network members Adrian, Jholerina and Pinty are raising awareness of LGBTI rights. Although each activist comes from a different country and background, they all share a common determination to promote and support LGBTI-friendly policies in Africa.

Adrian has used his experience in law to support the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, a provider of legal aid services for LGBTI persons. At an early age, Adrian became involved with the human rights field, working to combat anti-homosexuality laws soon after graduating college.

Jholerina, a transgender woman, also knew from a young age that she would dedicate her career to helping other members of the LGBTI community. After mentoring LGBTI youth for several years, she founded an organization that leads initiatives to facilitate dialogue, promote law reform, drive intersectionality and advocate for the inclusion of transgender and gender-diverse people.

Pinty, also a transgender woman, had to overcome discrimination growing up to eventually become the executive director of an organization that focuses on advancing equal rights of transgender people and providing access to different services without discrimination.

In this podcast, these three Mandela Washington Fellows discuss their experiences as both members and activists for the LGBTI community and explain how they each have worked to help end the mistreatment of LGBTI people within their home countries.

Adrian, Jholerina, and Pinty offer suggestions to the YALI Network on how members can combat issues of inequality within their community, and they share advice on how Network members can work together to support those who identify as LGBTI.

“I think it’s best to say we as the cohorts, or rather the participants of the YALI Network, should always work hand in hand to say, ‘I have this problem. How best can we do it so we get to move forward?’” Pinty says, “And I would rather say let us be very supportive, irrespective of the gender or sexual orientation or background you come from.”

You can hear how Adrian, Jholerina, and Pinty are working to promote tolerance and human rights for LGBTI persons by listening to the YALI Voices podcast or reading the transcript below.

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

YALI Voices Podcast: Three Champions Working Toward LGBTI Tolerance

Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

♪ Yes we can ♪ ♪ Sure we can ♪ ♪ Change the world ♪

VOICEOVER: Welcome to the YALI Voices Podcast, your home for sharing the best stories from the Young African Leaders Initiative Network. Be sure to subscribe to the YALI Voices podcast and visit yali.state.gov to stay up to date on all things YALI.

In this YALI Voices podcast, we hear from three YALI Network members — Adrian, Jholerina, and Pinty — who are raising awareness on the rights of those who identify as LGBTI. For Jholerina and Pinty, who are themselves transgender, the abuses and challenges they and others face with regard to their personal security, health care and basic rights are of particular concern. These YALI Network members are committed to working toward a more tolerant and just society for all. It is something they hope the entire YALI Network will join them in creating.

This podcast was recorded in the podcast studio at James Madison’s Montpelier, a partner site of the Presidential Precinct.

James Madison was the fourth president of the United States and is known as the father of the U.S. Constitution. Montpelier is now home of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution.

ADRIAN: All right, so we are here, the three of us — that is me, Adrian Jjuuko, from Uganda.

JHOLERINA: Jholerina Timbo from Namibia.

PINTY: Pinty Dludlu from the Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland.

ADRIAN: Yeah, so three different countries, three different people, and we all come in here with different backgrounds, different work, but what brings us together is the issue of LGBTI rights. All of us share that in common. We work on LGBTI rights in our different countries, so we are going to have a conversation between ourselves just to understand how we work, the conditions in which we work, what we do, and then why we do what we do.

So, we would also want people to come on board and do more for what we do and support the LGBTI movement in Africa. So, different countries, different contexts, but at the same time, it’s all the same. It’s Africa, right? We need to work together. We need to be able to know where this goes. So, maybe I’m going to start with myself speaking about my own background.

My name is Adrian Jjuuko. I’m from Uganda. I’m a lawyer, and I work with Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum. We’re a legal aid service provider for LGBTI persons in Uganda, so my background is law. And we run the first legal aid clinic on LGBTI rights in Uganda. We’ve been operating for the past 10 years. And for me, getting into this work is something that I would say came as part of my own life experience, my own history and background.

I became an orphan at the age of 12, and being an orphan, that is both parents, so my parents died within one month of each other. And for me, that was a life-changing experience because all of a sudden, I moved from a family or a life where I had parents who loved me to a life where no one basically loved me, where it was — that’s it, you’re out there on your own. You have to fend for yourself, live off the streets, and then manage to go to school and then make it through life.

But so, from that early period, I knew that my work would be on human rights. So when I came out of law school, Uganda had just passed the anti-homosexuality bill, and so for me I knew right from the get go what I was going to do. It’s not a law that could stand. It had the death penalty for LGBTI people. It also called for professionals like myself, like lawyers, to report our own clients who are LGBTI within 24 hours, and then it required identification of international instruments that promoted homosexuality.

So, I knew right from the get go, this was not something that I could take. So I joined the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which came together to oppose the anti-homosexuality bill. And then I filed a case in 2009 challenging the Equal Opportunities Commission Act, which had a provision that stopped the Equal Opportunities Commission from investigating murders that regarded as immoral and unacceptable by the majority.

So, I don’t know what for you it’s like being, Jholerina. How was it for you?

JHOLERINA: For me growing up in a small town in Namibia, not knowing and understanding myself, not having any information about what it is to be who I am, being told by family and friends that being who I was was wrong and it’s unacceptable in society, you know, it was tough and challenging growing up in such a setting.

Moving to the capital city was quite an eye-opener for me because I got to see people like me out there on the street.

I am a chef by profession, and I started working with LGBTI issues at a very young age after high school, and I started volunteering first at the only LGBTI organization within the country, always wanting to know, always at the offices.

Whatever time I would get from after work or before work, I would be at the offices wanting to learn, wanting to know, you know, just to understand myself better and be true to myself. And it was quite a journey for me.

As a transgendered woman that prefers the pronoun she, her, herself, you know, it has been quite a journey for me, and after that, serving on the board of the LGBTI organization as a transgender woman, being the voice for the trans community within that setting, and always voicing my opinion and challenges that trans people bring to the table and not being taken into consideration, not our issues of gender identity, not being addressed within the country by the LGBT movement prompted me to actually leave my job as a chef and to take on the mentorship of ensuring that our voices were heard, that our challenges were out there, that we were being visible, and that we showcase that we exist in this society of our country.

And it has been, it has been quite a challenge, you know, having to juggle two hats, three hats at the same time, the personal as well as the organization that I founded, which is called Wings to Transcend Namibia, as well as also serving on the board of the broader LGBT movement, the intersectionality of issues within these different settings, and also having, running an institution as a trans woman and being seen as a trans women’s organization, so the issues of exclusion by gender-diverse persons as well as trans men feeling they are not being part and parcel of this organization and so forth.

ADRIAN: Pinty, what do you think?

PINTY: Me as Pinty coming from Swaziland, growing up as a girl because I’ve always identified myself as a girl. I grew up with both boys and girls, and I’m lucky to have grown under a very strict mother who’d send me out to herd cattle, to gather stuff. Basically I’m the one person who mostly did all the chores in the family, though my father didn’t want me to go into the fields and herding cattle because he felt like I wasn’t doing justice. He always wanted me to keep around the house chores.

So, high school and primary was perfect, and then I enrolled with the University of Swaziland, where I felt like all eyes were on me, so much there was one route I would use and I wouldn’t use the other because each time you just turned behind, you’d find all eyes on you so much.

So, I felt like it was a kind of discrimination. I used to enroll to the class. At some point in time, I even joined Mr. Swaziland. For most people, they think I joined Mr. Swaziland because I didn’t know who I was. Basically I joined Mr. Swaziland because I felt it was kind of a situation that would take, would make me much, much confident, not to say I didn’t know who I was.

I was discontinued in my third year of study, and most people felt it was an issue of the lecturer being transphobic, because she’d given me all the good grades for CA exams — continuous assessments — all the 80s.

So, that was when I felt like this is what I have to do. All along, the journey was not like I had known I’d be a human rights activist, or rather a trans activist, or rather have an organization that deals with looking at the welfare of trans people in Swaziland.

So, when I got that discontinue, it actually reminded me that I was not the only person who would go such, so I felt the urge of helping other people who would fall under the same trap as me.

Initially, at some point, I initially became an example for people to mock other people using me, so much to the extent, there were nights when you just get to bed and feel so frustrated and you’d cry the whole night. By then, you’ve come to pass with that, and we are trying to help other trans persons to say, “This is the journey, this is how you have to take it and to run away from discrimination.”

Also the inaccessibility of services due to being a transgender person — facing the discrimination, stigma, and all that prejudice before you even say something at health care facilities. I know people who really have faced that so much, that would stay away from health care facilities, and yet here we are in Swaziland saying we are fighting the scourge of HIV and AIDS.

And the constitution of Swaziland doesn’t speak of sexual orientation or gender identity, so we had to bring that down to say we are going to be working with a marginalized population to say we need to create access to health care services and to preventing HIV and AIDS.

We want to create a balanced space where everyone is employed in terms of their antecedents, where everyone is judged according to their antecedents, not according to their sexual orientation or sexual preference.

ADRIAN: Thank you so much, Pinty. It’s something listening to those stories that both of you have shared. I know my own experience working with LGBTI people in Uganda gives me some of those experiences, but it’s different living as a trans person, living as an openly gay person in a country, in one of our countries, than working with the groups like I do. So, like I told you, even for me, just working with groups makes me a target.

And one of the conversations I want us to really have is the one about being targets. About us being targets. For me, in Uganda, I was simply … It’s like my office is like an embassy. It’s like a garrison.

Nowadays, we even have policemen with guns. We have cameras. We have barbed wire fences. We have a dog. We have laser sensors, motion detectors that sense motion everywhere. So, we sit in that office, and we are always on attention. It’s not because this is what we wanted. We used to have a very nice office where everyone would come in, but it’s because in the recent past, we’ve been attacked twice. In June of 2016, we were attacked, and our security guard was murdered, cold-blood killed.

So, you are like, oh, so you start guessing why they are doing this, why you are being attacked, why you are being targeted. Because if it’s ordinary thieves, they will come and take things away from the office, but these are people who come to scare you, who come to target something, who come maybe to send a message that what you are doing is terrible. And now, just getting lawyers to do this work has become a nightmare. I can tell you we’ve not even had more than 20 lawyers being able to work at our organization.

Some come, start the work, and then they leave. Others, when they go there, they’re taunted. People start telling them all sorts of things as lawyers. So, all of us in our homes, we try to protect ourselves as much as possible, protect our family members. So, I can just imagine that if as a person giving support, that’s how I’m treated, then how about the people that we serve? How about you as a transgender person?

PINTY: Thank you, Adrian. I just want to commend you for being so strong and so willingful to work with the transgender community, or rather the LGBTI community in your country. I feel it takes a very strong personality to do that kind of work. So many people are afraid of standing out for the truth. It’s because, just because of the stigma and discrimination that maybe comes with the policies, or rather having no policy in place in our countries.

And I see a potential, I hope, which is going to lead the conversation to say how well or how best can I have that kind of a relationship working closely with lawyers in Swaziland.

Well, in Swaziland, I must say that, that discrimination and stigma is not the drive for the trans people, when we are a target, I must say, because if we get to be targeted by the gay community itself, which has to be in support of us, that makes things worse for us, but then again the discrimination is just there at a certain level.

Mostly it’s the taxi areas, the bus terminal areas. Then the other areas, usually people can walk free and do their shopping free without any form of discrimination.

At some point, we do get people who get to be questioned, “Why are you influencing my children to be like this?” And at the end of the day, it’s very like crazy because nobody wakes up to teach other people or mentor other people to be who they are.

If the sensitization is moving on to police officers — and I think they, too, are able to create safe spaces, because in the past we’ve had transgender people, say, maybe being arrested for another crime, but going to the police station, it changes towards their sexual orientation. “Can you undress so we can see what you are? Are you a woman or a man?” And I feel that’s the very point where we need people like yourself who are human rights lawyers to say,”No, you cannot do that.”

So, yeah, there is discrimination. There’s been so much discrimination in health care facilities and at police officer services. But currently, with their ongoing sensitizations, the discrimination is becoming lesser and lesser, and we are getting more of the comments from police officers to say, “You guys need to come to us any time there is a problem. Just come here, report. We are going to deal with the case without looking into sexual orientation or gender identity.” And hospitals as well are willing to assist.

I really do commend the work that Swaziland’s doing, especially the minister of health and the Royal eSwatini Police Service for supporting such cases of violence and giving services to trans people.

ADRIAN: Jholerina.

JHOLERINA : So, for us, it’s hectic. The stigma and discrimination is hectic. You can’t walk in the street without people verbally abusing you. And in recent times, there has been cases of rape by taxi drivers of trans women in Namibia. You can’t walk around in a mall. The entire mall comes to a standstill, you know. And then you hear people whispering and saying things and shouting things to you. Up until that point where a security guard has the audacity to literally in front of all of these many people talk nonsense and hogwash towards you, you know. So, we do have cases of verbal, a lot of verbal abuse within Namibia.

We do have cases of physical abuse within Namibia. Even our domestic GBV policies are very exclusionary. They just talk about men and women relationships, which excludes trans people within these settings, leaving trans people to be in relationships that they get abused, and they can’t go and report because if they go and report, it’s not a domestic issue. It’s not seen as a domestic issue. It is seen as assault, and people don’t want their partners to go to jail for assault and all of these things, and even when you go to police stations, they make fun of you for being in such relationships. There was a time we had a Pride event, and after leaving the Pride event, a policeman pulled up in front of us, asking us funny questions, like how do you even have intercourse with each other and, you know, all of these things. Police officers that are supposed to protect and serve all citizens, you know?

And so, because of the exclusion within the laws, people feel because the law is not explicit to say you cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, that loophole gives people the power, even police, to abuse you as a transgender person that is visible and out there. And you cannot, even if you’re HIV positive — it’s double stigma on you when you go to public health care systems. So, now we need to look at ways of creating that safety net, that safe space where people can go and access services without feeling discriminated and stigmatized, and that means working with the numbers, working with the SFHs, working with other NGOs that provide testing and all of these services.

So, placing ourselves in settings where we had to voice our opinion, our challenges and our issues is also very crucial within the country, even though there is a lot of stigma and discrimination. And so, addressing these issues and being visible, being in newspapers — we have been in newspapers, we have been on television. And a lot of people say if this was Uganda, for example, they would have shut down the television station, being on national TV and all of these things.

But at least having the liberty to be on television and talking about our issues and challenges, being in state-owned newspapers talking about our issues and challenges, even though it’s very challenging with editors that don’t want to put these things into the newspapers. Journalists that are sympathetic find ways of addressing our issues in newspapers, and so finding those ways and those connections to actually bring our issues to the fore and being visible is also one thing. I for myself decided, “Jholerina, you never had a role model.” We can’t keep on looking at the Janet Mocks and Laverne Coxs as Africans. We don’t have role models within our countries that we look up to that says, “If Jholerina can do it, if Pinty can do it, I can do it, too.” It is possible within this country, and so for me, I decided to fashion myself as a role model for younger trans women to look up to, to say, “Okay, when these things happened to Jholerina, she has shared that she deals with it this way. I can probably do the same as well and have a better outcome.”

PINTY: Can I chip in?

I think one of the things that has made us manage to have, or rather create, a safer space is having the right voices up front, the right voice which is going to pave the way without any violence because, like I said, Swaziland is a very conservative country. So my feeling is if you are going to make demands in a very irrational way, it’s not going to help. So the best thing that has helped is bringing police officers with health care workers under one roof with the transgender community itself to hear from the transgender community itself who transgender people are, and then from there, they have been able to deliberate issues around how best can we do, or rather provide, safety and security for transgender people.

ADRIAN: Thank you.

JHOLERINA: Just to add a little bit. You know, the issue is basically people understanding who we are, you know, that awareness around the issues. You see the gap now that is there because people still don’t understand. And so we still need to engage in dialogue and educate and raise awareness of the differences of what sexual orientation is and what gender identity is because they still think it’s one and the same thing. And so we need to bring about that education. And how do we go about bringing that education to those people that are higher up there if they are not willing to listen?

ADRIAN: Absolutely. That also brings me to a conversation about Uganda. You talked about Uganda, that if we had this, a TV show, for example, that radio station, that TV station would be closed down. You’re actually right, you know? It has happened before. There was a time when we used to have space on TV and space on radio and speak out. I think this is the conservative backlash. The more you try to progress, the more backlash that you get.

So, we used to have radio talk shows. We used to have TV stations. Of course, it was not like well-balanced, but you would have that space. Nowadays we don’t. The largest media house in Uganda, the Vision Group, has a policy that they cannot report anything about homosexuality except if it comes from the courts or the president or parliament. That means that you can’t even buy space in a newspaper to put out an advert, basically a statement on LGBT rights or LGBT issues. That means you can’t appear in the studios, because they are the biggest media house and it’s government largely. You can’t have your space heard. And even those who try media houses, that basically try, that media house may be closed up. People have been fined for hosting LGBT people to speak out.

But again, on some of the issues you spoke about, the issues about violence against transgender persons, that’s something that I see. One of my biggest regrets in my work is a case that we did in, was it around 2014, 2015, where a transgender person was found with a gay person in a house in a room. In the morning, they were attacked by a mob, and they forced them out and started stoning them.

So, they are rescued. They basically ran away and went to the police for protection, what you talked about. Of course, when they got there, they were arrested by the police for their own protection. Immediately, the conversation started being about their sexual orientation, their gender identity, who they are. Immediately, they’re taken for examinations, and then they were taken for HIV tests.

And even before the results could be out, the police had announced to the media how these boys are HIV positive, with their pictures and photographs. So, you can imagine, we have the Red Pepper newspaper in the morning with “Gay Sodomite Infects Over 100 Boys with HIV,” things like that. And these boys were taken to — these people were eventually taken to jail, so they took them to court.

What they did is the police made sure their lawyers didn’t get to know the time when they’re taking them to the magistrate. They took them, and they were remanded to prison. We tried to get them out, and we got them out, the first time we made sure they come to court. And they were brought to court after two weeks. The magistrate said grounds that they needed two sureties. So, we couldn’t find two sureties for each of these persons. We could only find one.

They had to send them back. And then, getting them to come back wasn’t easy. Eventually the magistrate relaxed the conditions, and we could get them out on one surety, each person. By then, they needed a letter from the local council authorities, the same people who had beaten them up. We go to the local council authorities, they refuse to write the letter. We had to take the police to make them write the letter.

So, eventually, they spent six months in jail. This is on remand, right? Their case hasn’t been heard — nothing. And we only got them out after the judge dismissed the charges against them. For me, it was a big regret that you spent six months of your life in a jail for nothing, for no good reason, for a crime which you didn’t commit; you were even being beaten. You were supposed to be protected. But this is a daily reality for people, yes, because of how you look.

And also for me, there’s the broader issue which you work on, that’s the law and how it works, but also it is the smaller issue of you, the individual policewoman, the individual policeman and how you react to me. So, we may change the government laws and policies, but if you don’t change the small mind, the mind of this person, we aren’t going to make a lot of progress. So basically, that’s meetings. At least you can have Pride events. We can’t anymore.

There’s a time we used to have them. So, that’s for me, I don’t know what the trajectory for Uganda is because in 2014, we defeated the Anti-Homosexuality Act. We went to court. It was nullified. When we defeated it, it was like we opened the floodgates for discrimination and abuse, because now everyone was like, all right, if there’s no more law, then that means that we have to deal with LGBT people ourselves.

So, the government has gone on a rampage, stopping every single event that LGBT people hold in my country. So, I don’t know where that is going to lead. I know the conditions are a little bit different for each of us, but there’s no more space for expression in our own countries. That takes us to the, I think, to the last part of this conversation, the issue about people out there, the area network — people who want to support us, people who want to support the LGBT movement, people who want to support you. What are the messages we have for them, what do we want we want from them, why do we encourage people? Why should people support us for starters?

JHOLERINA: I think, um, for example, the YALI Network needs to do more.

I think, just like what they do with the YALI Serves, YALI Learns, all of those things, there needs to be a segment on YALI Diversity or something, you know, just to bring about that issue of yes, there are diverse people out there. There is a difference. You know, diversity is something that we cannot control, that we don’t have control over. We have diversity in everything else in life. You know, our skin colors, our continents, the context differs so much within diversity, and I believe that diversity needs to be treated the same when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. And I believe that the YALI Network needs to do more around advocating, around visibility, of diversity, around educating on gender identity and sexual orientation and expression issues.

PINTY: Thank you. I’m going to rally behind Jholerina as well. I think the YALI needs to do a lot, especially, is its cohort RLC, the regional one, the regional cohort. I feel there’s so much to be done. I think the embassy in Swaziland is doing a very great work because recently they helped in seeing the first ever Pride event being hosted in their country.

The whole government was a bit hostile about it, but then eventually it was supported, and police officers were even there to make sure there was safety and no violence, though I feel we should make a follow-up. I also think maybe there should be programs whereby one can always be like, can I work with the YALI Network in doing such and such a program?

I think it’s best to say we as the cohorts, or rather the participants of the YALI Network, should always like hook up with the YALI and always work hand in hand to say, “I have this problem. How best can we do it so we get to move forward?” And I would rather say, ”Let us be very supportive, irrespective of the gender or sexual orientation or background you come from.” And do this in union, because I feel if we have journalists here for the cohort, we have lawyers, we have, I don’t know, maybe we do have people who are still vying for parliament seats, we can still work together to say we can advocate for such issues without even being violent. And the nation is going to hear it very well if those profiled people, or rather people in our positions do it.

Also encouraging maybe programs, maybe we should have like more programs around the LGBTI issues to say we can deliberate on such issues. And also go back home and give back to the nation without only giving back to the community we serve, but to the wider nation as well, because if we keep it within ourselves, then it’s not spreading to those people who lack information.

ADRIAN: Mine would really be an appeal to the over 500,000 members of the YALI Network. That’s huge, right? That all of us, we should be engaged, not just on LGBTI issues, but on understanding and appreciating what are issues of inclusion and diversity, not just for LGBT, but for people with disabilities, people living with albinism. We’re all different. 500,000 — that’s a lot of diversity. We’re all different in different ways, so LGBTI is not special, but at the same time, it’s one of those groups that are greatly marginalized and misunderstood because of all of us and where we come from. So, if all of us could stand up and, first of all, you need to understand, appreciate, and then know what to do next. So, for me, as a person who doesn’t identify as LGBTI, but whose whole career has been dedicated to LGBTI issues, I understand this. I know how this is. I know that people have to stand up.

I know that the LGBTI community can reach out, and I know there is the saying that nothing about us without us, which is very right. But at the same time, we need everyone else to come on board and support us. Because where you can reach, maybe I can’t reach, but where you can reach also you may not be able to reach. As a lawyer, I can access the courts, which you may not be able to reach. We have many lawyers. We have many government people, policymakers within the network. Let us all understand one thing that today may be Jholerina. Today may be Pinty. But tomorrow it’s you about some other issue. It may not be your sexual orientation, but something else will come up. All of us potentially are minorities.

So, for me, understanding diversity and knowing that this is not about, about charity. It’s not about helping. It’s about knowing that someone is a human being, someone deserves their dignity and respect. So, if all of us came up and stood up with one voice — imagine 500,000 people in Africa, some with LGBTI issues, if it happens in Namibia or Uganda or it happened in Swaziland, and people come up and say, “No, you can’t treat them like that.” Imagine how powerful such a voice is. So, if we all come together, support the LGBT movement, support minorities, some marginalized people, give them whatever we can, I think we’ll be moving Africa forward.

JHOLERINA: Absolutely, and looking at that issue of intersectionality, just because I’m trans doesn’t mean I don’t need to advocate for issues around unemployment, I don’t need to advocate around issues of poverty. Just because I’m trans doesn’t mean I need to be working only on trans issues, but looking at that intersectionality of how do we collectively address this specific issue as human beings? Not as Jholerina the trans woman, but collectively as Africans? If we have to talk about corruption in our countries, how do we all together address that issue? How do we all together address issues around poverty, sanitation, all of these issues that we have in our country? You know, I think Africa would be a better place if we look at things in that perspective.

ADRIAN: Absolutely. So, even as we support, we have to be, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we need to empower. Our communities have to speak out and stand up for themselves, because I think empowerment is one of the issues that we have. A young trans person in Swazi, a young trans person in Namibia, and a young trans person in Uganda, they need to be empowered.

They need to have role models who they can look up to and say, “Yes, that person is an African, they’re trans, and they’re making it big.” Any last words?

JHOLERINA: I think I would stick to the words of Judge Thomas that we are the light of Africa, that we together in unity can make Africa great. Africa is great, but it needs that niche. It needs that unity.

It needs those creative minds, those academic minds to work together to create a better Africa for tomorrow. And only together can we create that great Africa for the next generation.

ADRIAN: Thank you.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

♪ Yes we can ♪ ♪ Sure we can ♪ ♪ Change the world ♪

VOICE OVER: Thank you Adrian, Jholerina, and Pinty for the work that you do to promote tolerance and human rights. We appreciate you talking about these important issues and sharing your stories with the YALI Network.

Be sure to come back for more inspiring stories from young African leaders on the YALI Voices podcast.

Join the YALI Network at yali.state.gov and be a part of something bigger!

Our theme music is “E – Go Happen,” by Grace Jerry and produced by The Presidential Precinct.

The YALI Voices podcast is brought to you by the U.S. Department of State and is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative, which is funded by the U.S. government.

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