The Pearl of Africa


Hailing from Uganda, one of the most homophobic places on Earth, Cleo shares her story of love and triumph in the new documentary, The Pearl of Africa.

Cleopatra Kambugu refuses to be a victim. She refuses to be silenced, or made afraid. She simply wants to be free to live her life and love her man. It’s a universal feeling, this wanting, needing to be free, but in a place like Uganda, and for a woman like Cleo, freedom is hard fought.

As one of the 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 confirmation 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.

Hoping to shed light on a nearly invisible population within a country shrouded in homophobic myths and realities, Cleo began sharing her story in the popular webseriesThe Pearl of Africa. Now a documentary, Cleo’s story has the ability to reach an even wider audience.

Out has the story.

Youtube link.


  1. rq says

    I don’t even know what to comment. “Brave” is a good word, though. I hope this doesn’t endanger her any more than she already is in danger. Good thoughts for her!

  2. says

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I have watched the first of the web series, and it’s riveting. I think the more people who know about this and watch the documentary, the better. It’s all support for Cleopatra, and it would make it a bit more difficult for anyone to do harm to her or her loved ones.

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