Gender and sexuality is one of the main elements in the music video “Unite & Litre” by Baloji. The use of a woman as the main dancer in the music video is clearly a statement about gender. Throughout the video she is shown dancing to the music gracefully and care-free, and sometimes the choreography shifts to a much more heavy and fierce dancing with sharp movements. In addition to this, at one point in the video, Baloji is singing amongst a crowd of people all dancing to his music. Within the crowd there is shown to even be a transgender woman. She is shown standing proudly with her chin up looking at the camera. This is also clearly a statement about the treatment about the LGBTQ community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
To gain a better understanding of the history of these issues in Africa, I did some additional research. I found an article from the London Times that discussed a case where a gay couple in Malawi were convicted of committing a crime by the court. The article states that, “They were arrested in December after testing Malawi’s anti-gay laws with a public ‘engagement ceremony’,” (Clayton). The couple were arrested from almost a decade, simply for holding a public ceremony. This arrest occurred very recently, just 8 years ago in 2010.
The incident described in the article clearly shows that some African countries still have a serious problem in regards to the discrimination of the LGBTQ community. The fact that laws such as these are even in place in the first place shows a clearly misguided view of the LGBTQ community. The reason for the appearance of a transgender woman in the music video as well as the use of a woman as the main dancer is likely to empower these groups and a way for Baloji to show his support for them.
I think that the transgender woman being shown amongst the crowd is Baloji’s way of stating that transgender people are no different than the rest of us, and should be treated as such. The woman is not shown separated from the rest of the crowd or in a group with other transgender people, but rather is shown amongst a crowd of ordinary people. By showing the woman in this way, Baloji is attempting to get rid of the negative connotations and discrimination that has been associated with the LGBTQ community throughout African history, and which still exists today as shown in the article from the London Times.
The use of a woman as the main dancer is also a very important choice in the music video. Women are another group of people who are often oppressed in society, not only in African society but in the entire world today. By using a woman as the main dancer in the video, I believe Baloji is showing that not only woman but all of these oppressed groups deserve to have a voice in society. The dancing that the woman does throughout the video is in effect her using her voice to communicate her feelings. By using this woman as the main dancer in the video, Baloji is giving a voice to woman and other minority groups in society that are so often oppressed and discriminated against.
Jonathan Clayton. “Gay activist couple are convicted of ‘unnatural acts’.” Times [London, England] 19 May 2010: 33. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 12 Dec. 2018.