Maliq Akayo was a member of TransBantu Zambia, one of that country’s most vocal transgender advocacy organisations. MaliQ participated heavily in work to expand the organization’s size, reach and refine its operating procedures. Photo: Supplied

It is with great sadness that Iranti has learnt of the passing of MaliQ Akayo, a beloved member of TransBantu Zambia. Another inspiring member of the African transgender community is gone too soon.

MaliQ facilitated a number of trainings and community building activities at TransBantu, and helped introduce the organisation’s first Human Resources and Financial policies; thus helping TransBantu from a grassroots advocacy group, to an internationally recognised voice in transgender rights in Zambia.

“With his exceptional, lighthearted personality, MaliQ was the kind of person who treated everyone warmly enough that people could call him a friend,” said a memorial statement written by TransBantu. “MaliQ made countless sacrifices for the transgender and intersex communities by dedicating his time and efforts towards advocacy for transgender and intersex persons, even when he could not be paid for six consecutive months. He endured family and societal ostracisation for his affiliation and work targeted at improving the lives of his peers.”

At the community level, MaliQ provide psychosocial support and counselling to young people living with HIV, and LGBTI Zambians. He honed his knowledge and advocacy skills through participation and contributions made at AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) trainings, and a range of other regional workshop opportunities.

Iranti cannot express enough its condolences to the team at TransBantu and the trans and intersex community in Zambia. In an age where gender-diverse Africans are facing renewed onslaught and discrimination, it is truly heartbreaking to lose another friend.

“When great people like MaliQ pass away,” says the team at TransBantu, “disappointment and bitterness reach a peak; and one way to honor their legacy is to continue their struggle.”

MaliQ spent much of his time implementing new strategies and ideas that he had learnt at various regional trainings and workshops. His interactions with activists across borders brought valuable knowledge to the Zambian trans community, and brought fresh ideas from Zambia to activists in Southern Africa. Photo: Supplied