Social Development — Prisca Nkuna Mogapi
Gay activist and founder of Rainbow Identity Association
Prisca Mogapi, known as Skipper, is a human rights defender, queer African feminist and founder of an NGO, the Rainbow Identity Association.
After enduring a troubled and oppressive adolescence, Mogapi decided to stand up and advocate for the voiceless because intersexuality is such a taboo.
In 2007, Mogapi saw the need for a trans-movement which started as a support group called Rainbow Identity. Today, the Rainbow Identity Association (RIA) is an organisation of transgender and intersex people (trans women, trans men, gender questioning, queer gender, transsexuals and non-conforming gender) which aims at exploring ways of challenging trans-phobic laws and transphobia in Botswana. The organisation was legally registered with registrar of societies in December 2010.
“The Rainbow Identity Association has enabled me to reach out to those who are hard to reach and vulnerable to human rights violations,” says Mogapi.
“The Rainbow Identity Association strives to create a democratic society that recognises, respects, protects and values the rights of the transgender and intersex community in Botswana.
“RIA supports transgender and intersex people with safe space to debrief and share information. This is to allow our culture to overcome the stereotypical concept of gender as it has a large influence in discrimination and ignorance.
“Through public awareness of the situation of intersex people I regard this as my greatest personal success. We are surrounded by shame and secrecy, it’s like we do not exist,” says Mogapi.
The group provides mentoring and support to trans and intersex people in Botswana. The Rainbow Identity Association works to develop a strong trans movement in the country and regionally, and to secure respect for trans and intersex people in their families, in public spaces and in legal and policy frameworks.
Skipper has come a long way. He is best known for the 2009 lawsuit where he and Caine Youngman, both members of the Association of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexual people in Botswana(Legabibo), contested what they believed to be a discriminatory section of the Laws of Botswana, section 164 of the Penal Code, which does not recognise same-sex relationships. This year, Legabibo won a case at the Court of Appeal for its registration as a society.
According to Skipper, “Standing for what you believe in is the only way to make people know who you are, the way you present yourself is the way the people and the community around you will treat you.” – CHARMAINE REVAKA