Namibia Drags to the World

Namibian Drag Queens Selena Dash and Miss Mavis alongside Astella at the recently held Drag Brunch in Cape Town.

Namibian drag queens Miss Mavis Dash (Rodelio Lewis) and Selena Dash (Jean Scheepers-PScheepers-Pretorius) made a big splash at Honey and Dora Café in Cape Town last weekend, where they were featured as part of the ‘Drag Brunch’ hosted by South African performance artist Astella.

The trio put on a show for the packed venue, which included local Namibians who came out to show support for their compatriots.

“I want what Selena Dash And Miss Mavis Dash did this Sunday in Cape Town to be reflective of what the Namibian drag scene is, an unstoppable international sensation waiting to happen. Because when I look at the work that some of the Drag Night Namibia performers have done on their own and with us, it shows that we are ready to take that next step,” says Lewis.

Some highlights of the day’s event included some magnificent displays of athletics and artistry.

Audiences were treated to backflips, spins, jumping splits, dancing, sashaying and high octane lip syncing, which was a pleasant addition to the positive energy that was already wafting through them.

Drag has a long history, and is a form of performance art where individuals, usually men, dress in clothing typically associated with the opposite gender. It involves creating theatrical personas, to entertain, challenge gender norms and express creativity.

Lewis, a long-time local media personality, actor and radio presenter, is no stranger to this world.

He is the founder of Drag Night Namibia, the regularly held music and dance show heavily supported by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and other, (LGBTQI+) community and its allies.

He is on a mission to shift what Namibian drag is and can be.

“This year my team and I spoke about how we wanted to focus on the decentralisation of Drag Night Namibia, and our first international opportunity presented itself to us in the form of Berlin Pride, which concluded with a ‘Drag Night Namibia Takes Berlin’ show.

“As the year progressed, we had the opportunity to take drag night to Swakopmund at Strand Hotel for a one-night-only special invite show under Positive Vibes. Fast forward to this past weekend and we broke yet another boundary by performing in Cape Town,” he says of the achievement that is testament to their resilience.

“Nothing you want in life is handed to you, you need to work for it and being able to travel as a Namibian artist and share my craft in so many different communities as a drag artist, proves that there is weight in the work we do,” he says.

He further expressed appreciation for his team, which includes musician Lize Ehlers and Zindri Swartz.

In Namibia, drag serves as a powerful avenue for self-expression within the LGBTQI+ community. Embraced by many queer individuals, drag provides a platform to challenge societal norms, confront prejudices, and celebrate diverse identities. Drag performances serve as a form of activism, breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity by showcasing the vibrancy of queer culture.

“We’re building and solidifying a community of marginalised people to see themselves as more than what the world portrays them as, and it does take a village to do what we do,” Lewis says.

“The future belongs to us, we simply need to take ownership of ourselves and work as a collective to climb the ladder, not compete on the ladder. We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams come true, now let’s start living.”

  • Anne Hambuda is a poet, writer and social commentator. Follow her online or email her for more.

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