Indeed, the first time she heard the word was when she saw it written under her photograph on the cover of the Nation.
Mobilising support One of these was Gift Trapence, who runs the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), an LGBTI rights advocacy organisation.
Just weeks before Chimbalanga’s chinkhoswe, Cedep’s offices had been raided and its safer-sex materials confiscated as “pornography”.
After eight years of schooling, she left the village because, she says, she had been bewitched and needed to seek help from a traditional healer in the north.
When she returned two years later, she was dramatically different, living entirely as a woman and with a new name.
She has a television and a sound system – and a coterie, including her partner of about a year, Benson, a Malawian man who lives with her.
Neighbours are constantly popping in to borrow some mobile airtime, to cadge a tomato or to settle in for some beer with “Aunty”, as she is universally known. ” they exclaim, somewhere between affection and mockery, as they pass her security gate.But when she curtsies in greeting and fails to meet your eye, you remember that she is just a rural girl from a small village in a tiny, underdeveloped country in central Africa.International campaign The international campaign to secure her pardon and resettlement in South Africa represented a triumph for the global cause of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) rights.He immediately set about organising legal defence for the accused and mobilising international support.The arrest “was on the radio shows, in the taxis, on the pulpits; it was as if Malawi itself was coming to an end”, he told me.She believes that the healer did release her from the curse – and perhaps it was a release from the constraints of gender that society had imposed on her: away from home, she found the courage to reinvent herself so that her exterior could begin matching how she felt inside.