The film, set in Uganda, a small land-locked country in the East African Sub region, tells us the story of Cleopatra, a 27-year-old student who came out as transgender and lives full time, in a country that struggles to recognise, appreciate, reconcile, protect and celebrate this diversity, and has instead condemned and abused this diversity and left it for dead.
In the film we get to learn about her through her multiple identities, as a transgender woman, a daughter, a sibling, an activist, a Ugandan, and an African. A woman who seeks to shine light on the underlying current of her gender identity.
As one of the very few openly trans women in Uganda, and in all of Africa, Cleo faces any number of challenges to freedom, but she’s luckier than most. She was able to travel to Thailand for her gender reassignment surgery, though her native Uganda does not recognize her as female. That comes with its own set of problems, particularly when traveling, or trying to secure healthcare.
Creating a beacon of hope for her fellow transgender counterparts, we follow her as she writes the story of her life as a transgender woman; not as a disability, not as a psychopathology, not as an inadequacy, or a phase, but as a legitimate identity in our humanity that has for long been shrouded in darkness and misunderstood.
Unlike many films that explore themes related to human rights, The Pearl of Africa focuses on telling a universal love story in an extreme circumstance.
Read more on thepearlofafrica.tv