There is something quite fascinating about Mooketsi Sedimo. He is a father and a gay Christian, whose sexual orientation is not an issue at all at his church.
It is business as usual at Sedimo's church, the St John Apostolic Church where they continue to regard him as a highly talented and dedicated member of their brass band. Sedimo is counted among their gifted trumpeters and drummers at an African independent church where the brass band is considered the spiritual identity of the church.
The bandmaster, Cavere Moahi, describes Sedimo as "one hell of a dedicated member" who is also talented in playing various musical instruments of worship like the drums, euphonium (phala), trumpet, and the alto horn.
The bandmaster even has high hopes for Sedimo that at the rate he is excelling in the band, it "won't be long before he starts playing the tuba baritone"
"He is not just a dedicated member, Sedimo is also full of love, which radiates throughout the church. We learnt about his sexual orientation recently, but decided to leave everything in the hands of the Lord who created our church mate. We believe God loves him as much as He loves us and only God is able to judge us. So we love him (Sedimo) and he loves the church so much. He is so free in the church that he can even stand before everyone and preach. That's how free we are with him," the bandmaster tells The Monitor. Sedimo says he is happy that his pastor and the church at large have accepted him as one of their own and decided not to judge him. No wonder the middle-aged man has in turn done what many would regard as being beneath their dignity.
His commitment to his church and God has seen him recently take a long leave from work just to dedicate the whole of the month of April to worshiping God.
The St John Apostolic Church is famed for their striped sashes and the music of their brass band as they march about blowing their trumpets and stylish drums to get the church into the spirit of worship.
Every day Sedimo and fellow band members meet at the church premises in Ledumadumane to practice the musical pieces that they will be rendering at their annual Easter assembly. This time, the St John Apostolic in Botswana will converge on Francistown for Easter sessions.
Sedimo says he has been a church boy since he was a child, when he used to double as a Catholic on Sunday mornings and as a St John in the afternoons. "My grandmother in Tutume was a strong Catholic, so she would take me with her to the Catholic Church on Sunday mornings, but I would mingle with other playmates and attend the nearby St John's church in the afternoons," he recalls with a trace of nostalgia.
Sedimo is in a same sex marriage, having wedded his partner in South Africa early this year. "I let my pastor know, as well as my family members. My pastor explained the matter to the church later. What is pleasing is that the church decided to accept me and not to judge me, because judgement is for the Lord," says the soft spoken and cigarette liking man.
It is not just at church where Sedimo says he is sure of moral support. He also speaks highly of his family's support system that he describes as strong. "I have never had any problems and my sexual orientation has never been a secret to my family members, as much as I wouldn't go out to tell people that I'm gay, I have always been expressive of my feelings."
However, Sedimo has never been blind to Botswana society's negative perception of people in same sex relationships.
This negative perception would play a part when Sedimo wanted to
It is this need for stability that convinced Sedimo to look beyond Botswana's borders for a suitable partner. "I also wanted to protect the gay people of Botswana from the negative perceptions that they would be subjected to if their relatives came to know about our relationship," says Sedimo, as he puffs his cigarette as if his courage depended on it.
"For me marriage is what I wanted. I was very prepared for the implications and the negativity, but most of all I wanted stability in my life." And he did tie the knot to his long time partner, South African Mzoxolo Cakwebe in December last year, although Sedimo is the first to confess that he was disappointed that the pictures of their wedding were leaked to the press.
"It was not planned like that. As much as our wedding was not a secret, we did not intend it to be a spectacle for obvious reasons. We had invited only a few friends. It was the photojournalist for The Sowetan who leaked them.
The wedding took place at Illovo on December 11, and on December 13 the pictures were published on Sowetan website, Sowetan Live. From there, people started forwarding them to friends. We tried to sue the photographer, but we were advised that we could not succeed because we had not made the photographer sign a confidentiality clause," Sedimo explains.
Sedimo and his partner have two children as well. Sedimo says he has a child of his own; a five-year-old boy who stays with his mother, while his partner's child also still stays with its mother. "I often visit my child, and carry out all my responsibilities of a father from time to time. At the right time I will explain everything to my child," adds Sedimo.
He says he is grateful that South Africa came up with a non-discriminatory legislation that allows same sex relationships to thrive.
Thanks to the friendly legislations there, Sedimo does not only walk tall and sleep with a peace of mind with his partner, but both partners can approach a bank for a higher credit limit backed by the sum total of their combined earnings, something that gay people in Botswana can only dream of.
"I feel pity for gay people in Botswana really, because they are not protected by the law. They can be in relationships for years and later lose out after the relationship has crumbled. It is a very sad state of affairs," observes Sedimo.
"As a human being, one always needs stability in their lives. We all want to marry and be happy with our partners.But our laws here do not give the gay community any chance to have a purpose in life. It does not have to be marriage legislation but they need something to lean on."
Sedimo alleges he has observed that the gay community in Botswana is bigger than what some people think. He claims to know a big number of men he wouldn't name, who decided to get married to women so that they can later use their marriages as a cover-up for their gay lives.
"It is very sad. They do this because they fear discrimination and stigma." Sedimo's concerns might be answered soon at the High Court where a landmark case, seeking to empower people in same sex relationships is being lodged this week by gay citizen, Caine Youngman. The case starts on April 15 before Justice Zibani Makwade.