Mohale and Somizi help us 'reimagine' love

Mbuyiselo Botha Gender Imbizo
Radio and television personality Somizi Mhlongo and Mohale Motaung.
Radio and television personality Somizi Mhlongo and Mohale Motaung.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

In the previous week, we were privy to Somizi and Mohale's beautiful, star- studded wedding. A lovely wedding it was - I wish them a joyous and long-lasting marriage.

Watching the snippets of the wedding via the media coverage, I thought to myself, "what a time to be alive".

I say this because there was a time in our society where we would have never seen such take place.

I am not oblivious to how far our country, and the rest of the world still, has to go when it comes to the rights of the LGBTQI+ community and their ability to fully and freely live their lives.

But I do think there is something to be said about how far we have come. I cannot help but think that occasions such as Somizi and Mohale's wedding are an ode to all the activists who have fought and are still fighting for the rights of the LGBTQI+ community.

The fight is still ongoing because our constitution on paper may be progressive but there is still a lot that needs to be done - practically.

In an ideal world, occasions like this should not make my world stop because they should be a normal occurrence, however the truth is, many gay and queer people are still living in the shadows of society because living their lives freely can lead to their death or rape. We have seen many get raped or killed because of their sexuality.

It was beautiful seeing an openly gay couple getting married and embracing all the customs associated with a marriage or wedding.

Last year, Somizi and Mohale observed the customary processes or practises associated with marriage. We saw them wearing their beautiful traditional attire and going through what seems like the joining of two families and the handover process that occurs after negotiations between the two families.

They are truly an embodiment of what it means to push the envelope. I say this because people were overly concerned with how the couple would observe the customary processes and practices when they do not represent the "traditional" heterosexual union these processes were designed for.

What Mohale and Somizi showed us is that tradition is not static, it can be pushed. Tradition is flexible and does not have to be limited by society's obsession with keeping them "sanctified".

In fact, is tradition not a creation of our own? I think it is quite backward of us to think we cannot add or subtract from our practices as we embrace and adjust to the changes within our society. If we are for the preservation of our traditions and customary practices, should we not embrace change and incorporate it?

I think if we do not, that is when we run the risk of a total wiping out of our traditions, as they will become stale and irrelevant.

I therefore think that if we are so committed to keeping our traditions and customary practices alive, part of the process is accepting that newer generations will add to them and subtract that which is no longer relevant.

While it is important to applaud the glamour and the glee associated with the wedding, there is a bigger message that Somizi and Mohale are sending to us - that we can reimagine love.

In fact, it is false to say this is a reimagining of love because if we had not lived in an era that erroneously banished romantic relations between those who chose to not be in heterosexual relationships, we would not have to see same-sex marriages as a reimagining of love.

I am usually cautious of commenting on events associated with people who form part of a marginalised and oppressed group, because I believe they too deserve for their occasions to not be moments for social commentary, analysis or to be seen as rebellion.

I would like to think they too want their occasion to be treated as what it is - a wedding. But I could not help but write on the lessons that their public display of love offers us as society.

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