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Shoga Films

Shoga Films is the production company of Robert Philipson, founded in 2005. “Shoga” is a term of endearment that Swahili women use to address one another. It also refers to men in Swahili culture who are the passive partners in homosexual couplings. On the Swahili coast I saw these men walking around in women’s wrappers (kangas).

 The reason I chose shoga as the name of my production company is because it brings together two of the major defining factors of my life: being gay and my consummate interest in African culture. Being gay, of course, was not a choice, but my contact with Africa, although helped along by the slight nudges of fate (being posted to the Central African Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer fresh out of college, for example), has been sustained and deliberate. In fact, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on a Tanzanian playwright and learned Swahili to do the project. Normally there isn’t much intersection between homosexuality and African culture (sub-Saharan Africans have been generally ignorant and homophobic), but I did discover a subculture of visible same-sex activity amongst the Swahili of Kenya and Tanzania. Remarkably enough, a gay-themed film appeared in Tanzania in 2011.

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