A touch of motivation?

As one of a crowd of seven thousand, I revelled in the atmosphere in yesterday’s Pride parade in Helsinki. I’m not referring specifically to a “gay” atmosphere; at Mr Gay Finland’s float or the men in pink dresses, but rather at the idea that the participants were there without remuneration, coercion, reward or sycophancy. 

Anyone familiar with Zambian parading will know what I mean.

Where were the government or company sponsored suits, the tee-shirts, lunch, transport and the mandatory speech by “The Guest of Honour?” Did I forget the all-important banner? And where oh where was the “motivation” (a euphemism I learned as an intern in northern Uganda)?

Yesterday, I joined in the parade because I care about LGBT rights and not because there was a reward awaiting me. I also know many people in Zambia who really do believe in the power of such marches; of people standing up in public to declare their rage, desire or discontent. However this enthusiasm is not universal - as shown in the money spent on suits/shirts/lunch/banner/etc.

Perhaps it’s time for the organisers of our parades could ask themselves if the huge sums of money spent could be invested in other means to reach our goals. Perhaps the World AIDS Day celebrations would survive without motivation, but I’m certain the other days – Women’s, Youth, Africa Freedom, Independence etc – would be abandoned if our various forms of “ensuring participation” ceased.

We’d have to find reason to march, perhaps rediscover what Africa Freedom or Independence Day were intended to signify. But that is highly unlikely for too many people (not all) have a vested interest in these parades which have become another chance to bag a free lunch and tee-shirt.

Photographs; USAFRICOM on flickr, Mwila Agatha Zaza 

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