Irene Major, British-Cameroonian singer, model and activist who first made a name for herself walking the runway in Cameroon and Paris, before meeting and getting married to Canadian oil tycoon, Sam Malin; then going on to found the ‘Gay in Africa’ Foundation and campaign – a foundation which exists to boost awareness of the persecution and suffering of the African LGBT community and fight against homophobia and discrimination against the LGBT in Africa, is our feature for today, DAY 6 of #12daysofglam giveaway courtesy of Sinai Beauty.
Currently based in the UK, she holds the Scottish feudal courtesy title of Lady Hailes. Irene is super passionate and daring…some of the many reasons we find her inspiring. In this interview, she talks about her three charities: IM Life, International Harbor and Gay in Africa, then shares the key to her success. She also lets us in on her plans for 2018.
What inspired you to set up/ get involved in not one but three charities (IM Life, International Harbor and Gay in Africa)?
I: Each charity covers a different area of profound concern to me: supporting poor families, combating human trafficking & fighting for the LGBT community in Africa
Tell us more about IM Life and the work you do through this charity?
I: IM LIFE exists to support families and individuals in desperate need who are suffering because of natural disasters or poverty. It provides basic needs, and support access to health care and education. It operates its own medical clinic in Yaoundé. Cameroon.
You are the founder of the Gay in Africa Foundation and campaign, what is it about?
I: GIA (Gay In Africa ) is about decriminalising this community and allowing it to make a full contribution to African society.
How have you dealt with backlash from those who perhaps have strong religious or cultural views about the LGBT community?
I: Scripture is subject to interpretation and is a source to promote tolerance and understanding of the LGBT community. On one level, of course, it is important to remember that using culture as an excuse to deny universal human rights is not acceptable and has led to atrocities in the past. Nevertheless it is also true that traditional African culture is in general much more tolerant than the modern à la carte version.
Did you expect the backlash or did it come to you as a surprise?
I: To be honest I was not surprised at the backlash because negative attitudes toward & ignorance about the LGBT community is endemic in Africa . And a key part of GIA’s struggle is to change these attitudes and mentalities.
Addressing the backlash just after the GIA launch earlier this year, Irene famously said
“Your religion may not support homosexuality, your society may not believe in it, but first we are humans and all humans are entitled to basic human rights … many of them have been denied jobs imprisoned, prosecuted or even killed for being themselves. Now that’s the issue we need to discuss.”
Which other project has been the most accomplishing to you this year?
I: Putting aside my greatest project of bringing my 6th child baby NOAH into this world, perhaps it is supporting organisation such as the London Media school – a higher education body supporting media , luxury & communication studies
As a mother of 6 (including the newborn) how do you manage motherhood and your very active work life?
I: Being a mum is definitely one of my greatest gift and achievement. True blessings come from the lord. I simply go with the flow and between myself, my husband and the kids, we work as a team. It’s crazy, fun, loud but mostly happy & filled with plenty of love at the ABBEY. The kids are a delight, a breath of fresh air & they definitely keep us young.
What would you say has been instrumental to your overall success?
I: Staying grounded, focusing on selflessness and having PAPA GOD as my guide.
What key things would you change in Africa if you had the chance? Why?
I: I would improve access to education and healthcare and work to increase understanding and tolerance between people of different cultures, religion and lifestyle choices.
What are your plans for 2018?
2018 can only be much more MAJOR. Watch this space as I continue with my current projects and many new ones …ALL IN GOD’S HANDS.
HOW TO WIN
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