Christina Engela – Biography
Christina Engela is a transgender writer, poet, artist, human rights activist, and D.I.Y.’er from South Africa.
“Christina Engela is a South African editor and author of horror, fantasy and science fiction novels. Her books are never short of suspense, adventure and humor, while her colorful characters and thought-provoking settings take readers into another world, making her one of the most gifted and creative storytellers. A firm supporter of the LGBT community, Christina believes that Sexual and Gender Minority characters aren’t reflected enough by authors due to a number of reasons. As such, Christina’s writing isn’t stereotypical, and her characters aren’t stereotypes, regardless of their sexuality or gender.” – Booksradar.com, June 21, 2021.
Christina Engela, author and human rights activist, was born on February 01, 1973 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Her parents were Theo Engela (1930–1985) and Yvonne Lorraine van der Westhuizen (1934–2013). Assigned male at birth, and an only-child, Christina was raised as a boy but struggled with her identity throughout her entire youth. She kept her struggle a secret due to a perceived lack of empathy or understanding from those around her as well as for reasons she attributed to confusion caused by her then Christian beliefs that homosexuality and transsexuality were evil. After many years of resulting confusion and unhappiness, she parted ways with Christianity and sought professional help to begin her transition, which she undertook in 1999 and completed in 2006.
Both Christina’s parents were talented writers in their own right. Of the two however, only her father Theo had achieved any success in publishing his work. Her father Theo was unemployed, a former policeman who suffered from undiagnosed PTSD and alcoholism. Much of his writing revolved around characters who drank heavily and coped with their alcoholism in different ways. He is credited with completing three novels and a collection of short stories, all edited and published by Christina. Theo died on August 16, 1985 at the age of 55 years at the Provincial Hospital, Port Elizabeth.
Christina’s mother Yvonne was a talented bilingual poet who wrote poetry in English and Afrikaans, however, after several rejection letters in the 1950s, she quickly gave up on publishing, but fostered the talent she perceived in Christina. Yvonne worked as a typist at the South African Department of Justice from 1983-2000, rising to the position of Chief Typist at the Supreme Court in Bird Street, Port Elizabeth in 1990. A single parent since their divorce in 1977, she worked two jobs between 1983-2000 and continued to work after retirement until her death on October 24, 2013 at the age of 79 years. She died at St. George’s Hospital, Port Elizabeth.
Perhaps as a result of her parents’ influence, from a young age, Christina expressed a desire to become a writer and pursued this interest almost as soon as she learned to write. Christina gained a lot of experience throughout her lifetime, having been a soldier, an LGBT human rights advocate, an activist for freedom of/from religion, a low level politician and political activist, a columnist, a teacher and facilitator, an artist and photographer, a D.I.Y.er, an academic – and first and foremost, a writer and creator.
In 2016 Christina met Wendy K. Gloss, a poet and artist from Mpumalanga. They were married on March 10, 2018 at a simple Pagan ceremony attended by close friends and family.
During her writing career Christina has published independently and also been traditionally published, through J. Ellington-Ashton Press (USA, from 2014-2016), Moon Books Publishing (USA, from 2019-2022) and Hally Park Publishers (South Africa, from 2021) and is one of South Africa’s most unique and interesting storytellers. As of 2022, her audiobooks are published through Peever Publishing (UK).
She continues to live in Port Elizabeth.
Christina Engela was born on February 01, 1973, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to Theo and Yvonne Lorraine Engela.
Both Christina’s parents were originally native Afrikaans-speakers who had adopted English as their primary language. Yvonne wrote poetry in Afrikaans, and later in English, but had no success in getting anything published. Theo on the other hand, wrote almost exclusively in English, and in his lifetime produced poetry, a play, three novels, and at least 30 short stories. Most of his short stories appeared in a South African Police magazine in the mid 1950’s. All were later dramatized for a local radio station (“Springbok Radio” 1, 2, 3) between 1960 and 1975, and repeated several times in subsequent years. Theo was also a pianist and musical composer.
Theo and Yvonne were married in Port Elizabeth in 1955.
Theo was a nervous child, the second of four children, who left school in standard 7 following a nervous breakdown. As a youth he joined the South African Police and became a Constable. He drank heavily and became an alcoholic who suffered from undiagnosed PTSD sustained during his time in the Police. This combination made finding and keeping employment difficult, and he spent much of his life drifting from job to job and then being unemployed or “self-employed” as a piano-tuner. Although writing was one of Theo’s major talents, music and especially the piano were his first love. At one point his musical talent rose to the fore and on the recommendation of a famous professor of music, he was admitted to Rhodes University to study for a BMus degree – with his standard 7 – but after almost a year had to drop out because of financial woes. He somewhat optimistically pinned his hopes for the future on his writing prowess, swinging between wild hopes of writing a “bestseller” and doldrums of depression and drink when his efforts failed.
Fifteen of his thirty-two short stories were published in the SAP magazine during the 1950s. In the 1960s-70s many of these were dramatized for broadcasting on Springbok Radio.
In 1956 Theo and Yvonne relocated to Johannesburg for Theo to find work. They were well settled when Theo was called back to Port Elizabeth in 1958 to attend his mother on her death bed. Yvonne followed shortly afterward, and they remained in Port Elizabeth after that.
Faced with Theos’ inability to hold a job and be a provider, Yvonne had no choice but to assume the role of breadwinner and worked first as a bank teller, then later as a secretary-typist-receptionist for the bank manager (Colonial & Western Bank), until she became pregnant in 1972 and was forced to resign. Six months after Christina’s birth (1973), Yvonne began working from home as a transcription typist for Sneller Recordings (later Ikamva-Veritas), which allowed her to earn enough working at home to keep the family afloat. Theo’s inability to help support the family put an enormous strain on their marriage until Yvonne finally divorced Theo in August 1977. At that time, Christina was five years old, and after the divorce, she lived with her mother and Theo moved out.
Theo remained a part of their lives, and he visited as often as he liked, and regularly took meals with Yvonne and Christina.
In 1983, Yvonne was appointed to the typing pool in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court in North End. She continued to also type court transcripts for Sneller in the evenings and over weekends, which meant that from 1983 to 2013, up to her death, she held two jobs and excelled in both of them.
Christina started school at Greenwood Primary School in Park Drive, Port Elizabeth (1979-81). She struggled immensely with the stress of adapting to the school routine, and as her parents had heeded the ‘advice’ of her uncle Thomas Engela who was a teacher at Grey High School, and later the Headmaster of Paarl Boy’s High, she had been prevented from learning to read or write by her parents until she started primary school in January 1979. Thus, she arrived at school, unable to read or write – and was expected to compete with children who had already learned to read and write at home and in what was then called ‘pre-primary’ school.
Christina did not enjoy rigid routines and timetables and had a tendency to get distracted. In her first year, she frequently disappeared from class while going to the toilet, or between classes, ending up playing with the younger kids in the pre-primary class. Her teachers would find her there playing ‘house’ with the girls. It was perhaps around that time that Christina became aware that she was not like other children. At that young age, she became keenly aware that ‘boys’ who ‘acted like’ girls were not looked upon favorably by anyone – school, Sunday school, some of her classmates, relatives – or her parents. She kept her feelings to herself, for practical reasons.
She quickly caught up to her classmates, but then became frustrated and bored, and she was then put on a dose of that extremely harmful and toxic ‘medication’ called Ritalin, which essentially caused her to sleep through the first six months of school! Additionally, Christina was found to have astigmatism in the right eye, which was suspected to be the cause of her poor concentration in class, especially in math. She was given glasses in the second school year, which she hardly wore.
She encountered difficulty with math at the start of Standard 1, Christina was sent to the local University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) to undergo EEG testing, which found that although she was in all respects healthy, and had a very high intellectual capacity, there appeared to be an anomaly in her brain structure and function which they could not identify at that time.
Accepting the recommendation of the professor in charge of that particular unit at UPE, Christina’s parents sent her to Cape Recife School, which was a specialist school that provided a dedicated and caring environment for children with above-average IQ, but with special needs, based in Summerstrand, in Port Elizabeth.
Christina left her friends at her old school behind, and finished Standard 1 at Cape Recife. She stayed at Cape Recife to the end of Standard 3 and in 1984, she returned to Greenwood for Standards 4 and 5 – but the road became rocky again. Although Christina had caught up and succeeded academically, she encountered prejudice and bullying from at least one teacher and several of her former friends who viewed her as being ‘inferior’ and ‘mentally retarded’ solely based on the fact that she had attended Cape Recife School. Nevertheless, Christina finished Standard 5 at the end of 1985, and at 12 years of age, started high school.
Christina had always enjoyed sci-fi stories. She watched TV shows like Star Trek, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica with great interest and read related sci-fi comics and books. At that time, she was more interested in history and especially ancient history of Rome and Greece. Her first attempt at writing a novel dates from 1985, entitled “Ostrogoth Roundabout”, later retitled “The Roman Eagle in Gaul”.
When all but two of her classmates went to Victoria Park High at the start of 1986, Christina opted to attend Pearson High School instead. One reason for this was that her mother and two uncles had attended that school, and she wanted to follow in their footsteps. A second reason for this choice was that math was mandatory right through to matric at Victoria Park High, while not at Pearson.
Christina was not mathematically inclined – her direction was clearly language – but although she struggled with algebra and more advanced high school mathematics at that age, she still managed to pass math as a subject up until the end of Standard 7 (Grade 9), when the school allowed students to drop math in favor of other subjects. This also unfortunately limited her in terms of future career choices. She was fascinated by so many different fields, and found it difficult to choose!
In her time at Pearson, Christina became part of a new circle of friends and grew as a person, but all was not sunshine and happiness as she was quite feminine in behavior and appearance. She got bullied by homophobic kids who assumed she was gay. The atmosphere in South Africa was very homophobic at that time.
In Standard 8 (Grade 10, 1988) Christina had had enough of the bullying and took it upon herself to toughen herself up physically in order to blend in. She copied the walks and mannerisms of male classmates and integrated these into her own. The bullying soon stopped, but she wasn’t happy. In fact, she was even more miserable and confused.
Christina’s writing skill became more prominent during that time, and her English and Afrikaans teachers began to remark at her talent. In Standard 9 (Grade 11) Christina wrote several compositions in English and Afrikaans, and poetry, which appeared in the school year book.
By 1991 when Christina entered Matric or Standard 10 (Grade 12), she’d already begun working on “Galaxy”, the story that would eventually spawn the Galaxii Series – and in turn, the Quantum Series and later also Panic! Horror In Space.
By the close of 1991, Christina faced an uncertain future. South Africa had entered a tumultuous period filled with unrest and drama. Conscription into the military was compulsory for males after leaving high school – even for those only assigned male. Christina obviously did not want to go to the army, but did so in order to relieve the financial burden her upkeep placed on her mother, who was a single parent and breadwinner of the household who could not afford to keep an adult unemployed child the same way she’d kept an adult unemployed husband!
Her mother also hoped the army would ‘make a man’ out of Christina. Employment opportunities were also scarce in general at the time due to economic sanctions against South Africa, and especially for white South Africans soon after that when “affirmative action” or “BEE” closed the employment market to white South Africans almost entirely. The army would – temporarily at least – provide a modest income, and save her mother in expenses.
Christina pinned her hopes on getting discharged if she revealed her feelings, which she did. After basic training, she was offered a discharge, but after careful consideration did not want that negative discharge on her record and decided to stick it out for the remainder of the year. Although she’d hated every minute of basic training and contemplated suicide on numerous occasions during the first three months, overall she made the most of her first year in the army. She completed two military courses – one for a sedan driving license, and an NCO’s course for promotion to Lance Corporal (PFC). After completing her national service, realizing there were no employment prospects open to her outside the army, she re-enlisted for a short term contract of another two years. Meanwhile, throughout that period, her former school friends shifted from one temporary job to another after completing their compulsory national service – with some emigrating to greener pastures. In the meantime, Christina had a stable income and job security, if not occasional job satisfaction.
One year became two, and then three, then four. Christina ultimately spent 17 years in the SA Army (1992-2009).
In 1994 she completed a logistics course and was promoted to Corporal. In the political upheaval of the 1990’s, she was assigned to the ‘National Peace Keeping Force’ – a special body responsible for maintaining order during the upcoming national elections – the very first, much advertised, truly broad-based democratic elections in South Africa. However, on the eve of Christina’s departure to report to the NPKF, the group experienced catastrophe and disaster as members had been drawn from various opposing military forces, perhaps predictably, fell apart before it could even launch properly!
During the violent and unpredictable period before the grand elections of 1994, Christina was deployed in night patrols in the city of Port Elizabeth, conducted in lightly-armored anti-riot vehicles. At the time, police and military vehicles were being fired upon. Christina counted herself as being lucky she was never actively involved in combat.
During her time in the SA army, Christina was a clerk, a vehicle convoy commander, worked in the logistics corps and in every kind of store conceivable. In 1994 she transferred to the EP Command Signal Unit, with which she was very proud to be associated. She was transferred again to EP Command HQ Unit in 1996, where she worked in the stores environment. In 1998 Christina completed the first of two promotional courses required for her next promotion to Sergeant, but was never promoted to that rank because she was seriously injured in a car accident before she could attend the second course. It took about two years for her to recover from her injuries before she was physically fit enough to attend the second course, but by 1999 she had already made up her mind to undergo her gender transition. In 2000 Christina qualified privately as an IT technician and transferred back to the signal environment, where she worked in management, training, IT, photography, call desk, customer care and numerous other environments, including multimedia specialist, graphic and web design.
Christina’s entire transition occurred between 2000 and 2006, while she was a serving, ranking member of the South African military, although she stopped wearing uniform in June of 2000. In March 2009, Christina demobilized from the Army and took a job as a civilian administrator.
Christina had lived a closeted life until 1999, when she came out as transgender, when she experienced varying levels of acceptance and rejection from friends and family. She persevered and endured several painful treatments up until her final surgical procedures in 2006.
Christina began her transition in 1999 and started living as female full-time in 2000. What surprises many people is that she remained in military service during her transition! During that period, she endured bullying, intimidation and prejudice at the hands of some colleagues, who had no idea what transgender even meant. By 2003 however, things began to change – in more ways than one. People began to see Christina beyond what she seemed to represent at face value. They began to see her strengths, and valued what skills she could contribute. It also helped that they began to perceive her as the woman she was always meant to be!
Christina’s skills – be they IT or media related – were highly valued by her supervisors, to the extent that on more than one occasion she managed projects and had higher-ranking colleagues assisting her under her supervision. While creating interesting media items for the military, Christina also sharpened her own skills – and put these to work creating things for herself too! In 2003 Christina completed the first electronic draft of ‘Blachart‘ in Word, after copy-typing and editing the original handwritten draft simultaneously!
It was in 2005 that electronic self-publishing first became accessible to Christina, and wearied by her attempts to find a ‘traditional publisher’ for her works, she first registered with Lulu.com. Within the first year, she completed and uploaded the first editions of ‘Blachart‘, ‘Demonspawn‘, ‘Black Sunrise‘, ‘The Time Saving Agency‘ and ‘Dead Man’s Hammer‘. ‘The Time Saving Agency‘ quickly overtook the other titles as her most popular title at the time.
In January 2006, after three surgeries and years of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – at long last, Christina completed her transition – and wrote a short story during her convalescence – “I, Mac“.
Christina became side-tracked from writing however, in 2008, when she became involved in advocacy for LGBT rights in South Africa.
Life In LGBT Activism
Being a transwoman who lived closeted for most of her early years, her eventual coming out in 1999 exposed her – somewhat inevitably – to people’s ignorance, prejudice and often – outright hate. Being so obviously transgender, at least at first, this thrust her into the front line as far as the fight for LGBT rights was concerned – and, being an Aquarian by nature, she found keeping quiet in the face of injustice not just hard, but impossible! She began first by educating those around her, her family, friends, and co-workers.
In 2008, Christina became embroiled in online activism, leading to her involvement in the Jon Qwelane issue in June of that year. The hateful columnist with high political connections in South Africa published a scandalous article equating marriage equality with bestiality and pedophilia and encouraged the removal of LGBT equality from SA’s Constitution. Qwelane stated that he would never be made to apologize for his offensive remarks. This controversy escalated to the point where, as one of the founding members of the SA Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD), she pushed the SA Human Rights Commission to lay charges of incitement against Qwelane in the Equality Court. Qwelane was politically connected, and in 2010, was appointed as South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda, and smuggled out of the country by then president Jacob Zuma, who accompanied him to Uganda on a state visit. During that period, the State shielded Qwelane from facing the legal consequences of his actions.
Despite eventually overcoming numerous obstacles rolled in their path by Qwelane’s government connections, the SAHRC was rewarded with a conviction in absentia in the Equality Court in 2012 – only to have the conviction overturned again by Qwelane’s lawyers. The case remained unresolved up until Qwelane’s death in 2020, making his boast that he would never apologize, prophetic. He was given an official funeral by the ANC government and mourned as a hero, while justice has been denied to the LGBT people of South Africa Qwelane has a Wikipedia page, which fails to mention SA GLAAD (or Christina Engela or Cobus Fourie) or any of their efforts to bring him down.
While SA GLAAD had been founded because of the stochastic terrorist Jon Qwelane, that was not the entire focus of the organization. Through SA GLAAD Christina assisted other groups in getting off the ground, including a PFLAG group in Port Elizabeth, and the Progressive Interfaith Coalition of South Africa (PICSA), which was intended to monitor and address the government’s apparent link-up with Jacob Zuma and Rhema’s ‘God-Squad’ when it was revealed that Zuma had allowed Rhema access to state resources at cost to the tax-payer. The “God-Squad” was also working to undermine constitutional protections for LGBT people in South Africa.
Christina started her activism blog “Sour Grapes: The Fruit of Ignorance” in early 2009, which sent human rights articles to a mailing list on a daily basis. By February 2009, she became a member of the Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association (ECGLA), quickly moving up the hierarchy, to become its Vice President by June, and its President by October of the same year. This meant that from the end of 2009, Christina Engela headed two South African LGBT civil rights groups concurrently until she stepped down from ECGLA (then as Director) in September 2011, after bringing the first ever successful LGBT pride event to her city.
Through ECGLA, Christina supervised the building of relations between the pink community and bodies such as the Red Cross, Lifeline PE, the NMB Municipality, NMM University, the Democratic Alliance, OUT LGBT, HIVOS, St. Johns Methodist Church, and was also responsible for the hosting of the first ever annual pride in Port Elizabeth in 2011. ECGLA also negotiated training courses for LGBT counselors for use by both Lifeline and ECGLA.
Christina campaigned consistently throughout her activism career against the discrimination by the SA National Blood Service against gay male donors. This discrimination finally ended in 2014 – essentially validating all the points (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) she had raised during her vocal and public opposition.
Although Christina no longer considers herself an activist writer in terms of human rights advocacy alone, for a long time – between 2008 and 2013 – she devoted ALL her writing resources to writing lengthy, emotive LGBT and religious freedom-related human rights articles. Christina wrote almost 500 articles on her blog “Sour Grapes: the Fruit of Ignorance“, which were re-posted, shared and referenced by various international activist groups.
In 2009 Christina released two lengthy books – ‘UnChristian Action’ and ‘Bricks & Mortar: Talking Back to the Bigots’ – over 500 pages each on the subject of LGBT rights and freedoms in South Africa, drawing on her experiences as a human rights activist (now out of print). She also compiled “The Pink Community – The Facts” a list of useful articles, information and links which come in handy whenever an activist engages with someone who is assuming the role of an ‘expert’ when trying to batter down the human rights or equality of a persecuted minority.
In the run-up to the 2009 general elections in SA, Christina publicly exposed two South African religious right-wing Christian parties, the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) for the hatefulness of their general membership as well as several elected party representatives towards non-Christians as well as specifically LGBT people. The worst examples included representatives who backed instituting the death penalty for homosexuality in South Africa.
‘Bricks & Mortar: Talking Back to the Bigots’ which was a collection of transcripts of public debates held on their Facebook groups on these topics, which she published as a warning to South African voters to understand the need for voters to become more aware and discerning about their parties of choice, and what their policies are. The rough transcripts were also distributed to news media, churches and other social organizations, and the outcome was devastating to the small parties. Hundreds of very vocal Christian moderates descended upon these bigoted pseudo-political parties.
As a direct result of Christina’s actions, these parties tightened security and operated closed Facebook groups, requiring members to provide their ID numbers and proof of party membership to join. Such was the level of fear of being held accountable for their bigotry. More satisfying though, was their loss of half their constituents in the election – a setback from which they have seemingly never recovered.
Although Christina never received any payment for her activism and her contribution was entirely voluntary, some within the South African LGBT activist clique claimed she was a ‘shameless self-promoter’ who was ‘out to fleece the community’ – all while she was encouraging people to stand up and think for themselves and to fight for their equal rights – entirely at her own cost! The fact that these people were part of long-established LGBT non-profit organizations and drawing lucrative salaries coming from foreign donations and sponsorships – while being shown up for doing basically nothing for the LGBT community post-2005, might have had something to do with that.
Some prominent LGBT community leaders in South Africa, including Zachie Achmat, a very prominent HIV activist interacting on Facebook, also once called her a fascist, a racist and a xenophobe in a very nasty Facebook tirade – based solely on the grounds that, as an LGBT activist, she dared to criticize the ANC-led government for failing HIV positive people and LGBT rights. Others again, typically dominionists, referred to her as a liberal – and hurled words like ‘christophobe’ and ‘militant homosexualist’ against her as if they were solid projectiles.
In 2011, after bringing the first Pride to Port Elizabeth, Christina stepped down as Director of ECGLA and handed over the reigns to her vice, David Hessey who ran the organization until its eventual dissolution in 2016. Christina described her departure as ‘retirement’ from activism, hoping to revisit her writing again, as she’d neglected that aspect of her life for far too long as a sacrifice to activism. After failing to find anyone willing to take over the reigns of SA GLAAD, she closed down the organization and its websites and social media pages in 2018.
Describing herself as ‘really not much of a public speaker’, Christina delivered several informational presentations on transgender and sexuality on invitation several times a year at NMM University between 2009 and 2014 to nursing psychology students and also on one occasion, to university staff.
She was also invited to address a public gathering as a guest speaker on transgender issues at a Heritage Day event at the NMMU in 2010, and again in 2014 for NMMU Pride. In 2012, Christina Engela was invited to participate as a representative of the LGBT community at a meeting of the steering committee for the NMB World Aids Day event in 2012.
In 2013, following a sermon on “Is Gay OK?” by Woolard at St. Marks Congregational Church to which the LGBT community was invited to attend, Christina and Woolard exchanged fire. Woolard had made some extraordinary and slanderous claims about LGBT people based on denial and misrepresentation of science as well as on pseudo-scientific ‘research’ by discredited former researcher Paul Cameron. Woolard’s sermon was extremely one-sided, and although it was billed as ‘a debate’, no debate was allowed at the event. Categorically none. When subsequently challenged to an actual public debate on camera on the topic of homosexuality arranged by renowned local atheist, magical performer and showman Mark Rose-Christie, Christina Engela and a number of interested activists, Woolard never made an appearance.
In 2014, together with renowned American human rights advocate Melanie Nathan, Christina Engela organized and also participated in a public debate on the religious persecution of LGBT people in African countries, particularly Uganda, but also focusing on South Africa. Together with other speakers – including journalists in subsequent articles about the event – the ruling party received a scathing reprimand for ignoring human rights abuses while providing support to governments which indulge in those abuses.
Christina still posts articles on her blog “Sour Grapes: The Fruit of Ignorance” from time to time.
A Brief Political Career:
In 2008, Christina Engela was one of several LGBT activists invited to attend the first national conference of the then newly founded Congress of the People (COPE) party – which, in the face of apparent ANC apathy, was extremely vocal in its support of LGBT rights and equality. Although Christina never joined COPE, she certainly lent the party her support, and was one of several activists who presented input in the formulation of the party’s initial policies and wording of their stance on LGBT rights and equality, with particular emphasis on mention of the transgender component. Unfortunately, it appears that while COPE’s top structure understood and appreciated the concept and plight of those in South Africa experiencing persecution based on their sexual orientation, they did not understand what gender identity meant – and no mention of gender identity was made in the final draft.
Shortly after that, in 2009, Christina was instrumental in exposing COPE’s first presidential candidate – a clergyman, Mvume Dandala, as a homophobe who had been a co-leader of a Christianist group which had declared war on marriage equality in 2005. Dandala had also been a Methodist bishop stationed in Kampala (Uganda) during a period in which Christian rhetoric had been employed in the then current rise in incitement to violence and genocide against Uganda’s LGBT population – and that there was no evidence to suggest that he had ever spoken out against this rising tide of homophobic Christian hate in spite of its prevalence. Her point was taken up by independent LGBT activists, and as a result COPE withdrew Dandala’s nomination, substituting party leader Mosiuoa Lekota as candidate for the upcoming elections.
Not long afterwards, COPE unfortunately suffered a series of psy-ops attacks by the ANC, and gradually waned over the next decade to where it slipped from the 3rd to 4th largest party in South Africa.
Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2010 Christina joined the Democratic Alliance (DA), and served as Secretary for three local councils and committees at once, and was the Chairperson for Ward 5 under Councilor Jeremy Davis between 2009 and 2010. In 2010 she represented her Ward at the DA’s National Congress in Graaff Reinet, meeting both Helen Zille and her deputy Athol Trollip. The picture below shows Christina posing with Helen Zille (then leader of the DA). The picture was taken by Athol Trollip, later briefly Mayor of the Port Elizabeth Metro.
On two separate occasions, Christina was a Party Agent at voting venues during municipal elections. Despite having been groomed over several years to take over as the DA’s councilor for Ward 5 (Central, Richmond Hill & Mount Croix), she was not selected by her party as a candidate Ward Councilor during the 2010 municipal elections for her city. After that, considering the duplicitous nature of politics and politicians, she bowed out, ending her brief foray into politics.
Since that time, Christina was consulted by the DA with regard to the interests of LGBT voters in South Africa, although Christina has subsequently admonished the party to show more of an interest in acknowledging the issues faced by religious minority groups in the country (such as Pagans and Satanists) which she feels are being almost completely ignored or even trampled by larger groups in spite of South Africa’s advanced secular constitution. The DA has consistently ignored requests from the SA Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) to engage on matters of discrimination, or to address the issue of witch-hunts in South Africa’s locations and rural areas, where people are murdered and made into refugees annually as a result of religious persecution. The issue is essentially being ignored by the state.
Since 2015, Christina has become increasingly critical of the DA’s failing ethos of impartiality or secularism, since the party appears increasingly to be infiltrated by Christian dominionists (being led for a time by a former pastor at a homophobic Johannesburg church) and also increasingly racist, since it has voiced support for racist employment reservation policies (BEE) which contradict its earlier “Open Opportunity Society” policy. Christina holds the view that the party works to gentrify all areas under its control, hence it is a rich-person’s party, not a party for the people.
Activism For Religious Freedom
Christina has also been an activist for religious freedom, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) from 2012 to 2018.
Throughout her adult life she has been a strong defender of freedom of religion, separation of religion and the state, and also the right to freedom from religion. She has repeatedly said that she finds the level of hatred directed by the mainstream religious infrastructure (despite South Africa being a Constitutionally secular state) against non-Christian beliefs, religions, identities and spirituality, to be an affront to decency and human rights, and simply appalling.
As a former ‘born-again’ Christian, Christina turned away from Christianity as a belief system in 2009 and considers herself to be an agnostic atheist, although she identifies strongly with Pagan spirituality and in the past has also called herself ‘a practicing Witch’. She has been credited with organizing the 2012 Pagan Freedom Day celebration for Port Elizabeth for several years. In 2016 Christina was awarded the “Ribbon on the Witches Bouquet” by the SA Pagan Council for her activism.
She indulges in casual research into alternative religions, lifestyles and subcultures, and as Chief Researcher for the Alternative Religions Forum (ARF) she has rubbed elbows with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Freemasons, Satanists, Luciferians, Pagans, Witches, Vamp(y)ires, Goths and Emos – and other people marginalized and persecuted in South Africa’s recent love affair with Satanic Panic Hysteria.
She also joined the newly formed South African Satanic Church in 2021 as a formally registered member as an act of solidarity with a persecuted much-maligned religious minority group.
Writing For Academia
In 2013, Christina coordinated the Alternative Religions Forum‘s ‘Alternate Religions and Subcultures Demystification Project’, which entailed researching and compiling an academic document intended to dissect Satanic Panic Hysteria from the viewpoint of Pagans, Satanists and the Vampyre subculture. The resulting academic work, “Satanism: The Acid Test” – which was over 400 pages long in its first incarnation – was sent to numerous organizations in occult communities around the world, as well as several notable formal Academics and human rights organizations.
The “STAT Document” as it was called, received high praise and endorsement from such notable bodies as the Church of Satan, Ordo Luciferi, The South African Vampyre Alliance, The Atlanta Vampire Alliance, The Manchester Vampire Guild, The Canadian Collaborative Vampire & Otherkin Alliance, The South African Gothic Society, and Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (Religious Tolerance.org) [Ontario, Canada]. It was also praised by academics such as Dr. D.J. Williams, MSW, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Social Work, Sociology & Criminal Justice at Idaho State University; and John W. Morehead, MA in Intercultural Studies from Salt Lake Theological Seminary, Director of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies.
In May 2013, Christina delivered a presentation using a slide show based on the “STAT document” and presented a copy to a government-appointed committee investigating alleged ‘Satanist activity in schools’ based on religious hysteria in 2013.
This document was also sent to media organizations around the world, and also specifically to every known media organization in South Africa. The manner in which alleged ‘occult-related crimes’ were reported on in South African media abruptly changed virtually overnight to become more rational, objective and less hysterical – although a few biased media entities persist in furthering false stereotypes. Although religious extremists have made efforts to win back the minds of the media with their propaganda, in general however, the effect of this document can be clearly measured by the drastic decrease in hysterical SRA media articles.
SRA con artists and ‘activists’ continue to appear on local religious radio shows, particularly on Afrikaans radio and TV programs, to promote propaganda intended to fool the public into believing in non-existent ‘satanic conspiracies’ – which are needed to reinforce the idea that a special fanatical Christians-only police unit (ORC) is necessary to fight perceived ‘occult-related crimes’ and to win souls for Jesus at cost to the taxpayer. In 2013, Christina took on Adele Neveling – one such mythical legend-tripping alleged ‘ex-satanist’ – who had built a reputation with the media (through the SA Police Service’s Occult-Related Crimes unit) as an ‘expert witness’ and ‘survivor of satanism’ to demonstrate the woman’s astonishing lack of knowledge of ANY actual Satanist religion.
In 2021 Christina authored another three academic papers on the subject of Satanic Panic Hysteria which resulted from a critique or peer review she was requested to provide on a paper submitted to the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The first was “Satanism vs Pseudo-satanism: Disambiguation And Argument Against Conflation From Within Religious Satanism“, the second was “A Date With The Devil – Occult & Satanic Calendars Debunked” and the third, “Devil’s Advocate: The 666 Gangs – Why They Aren’t Satanists, How They Distorted South African Law Enforcement’s Perception Of Occult Religions, & The Consequences“.
On April 20, 2022, Christina was invited to deliver a lecture to University of the Western Cape Phd students and staff as a guest academic for the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice. The topic of the lecture was “Satanism: The Acid Test“, the academic paper she wrote for the Alternative Religions Forum in 2013. The lecture was conducted remotely via GoogleMeets. In 2023, she wrote another three papers: “By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them: A Proposed Framework By Which To Understand & Categorize Self-proclaimed ‘Occult Experts’“, “What is Satanism – Really? And What Isn’t? A Concise Definition Of Christianity-created Pseudo-satanism (CCPS)” and “What Happened To The South African Satanic Church – And Other Unanswered Questions“.
Life As An Internet DIY’er
Christina has always been a keen D.I.Y.er, and in 2020 she decided to set up a D.I.Y. website to showcase all her own projects for posterity and inspiration. Innovation DIY has a website, a page on Facebook, and appeared as a column in the Weekend Post, called “DIY On A Dime” during 2020 and 2021. In her articles, Christina describes how she went about making, building or modifying various types of projects including car hacks and upgrades, electronics, woodwork and other household solutions.
Art, Music & Photography
Christina draws many of her own illustrations. She is also fond of painting. Her favored medium is acrylic on canvas, and she has completed a total of five paintings since 2017. You can visit her Art page to find out more. Having worked as a multimedia specialist and graphic designer, Christina is also a keen photographer and has an interesting portfolio. You can visit her Photography page to view a sample. Having come from a musical background, Christina is also extremely fond of music. She has also created a number of digital tracks and concept albums which can be viewed and sampled on her Music page.
Christina started out self-publishing as an indie author in 2005, beginning on the Lulu platform. Via Lulu she published “African Assignment“, a collection of 15 of her late father’s short stories, which she edited herself. She followed this with “Space Sux!“, “Blachart“, “Demonspawn“, “Black Sunrise“, “The Time Saving Agency” and “Dead Man’s Hammer” in 2006. “Loderunner” followed in 2007. Between 2009 and 2011, she also published a number of non-fiction LGBT activist works, again through Lulu. During that same period, her fiction writing stood still while she devoted her time and energy to her activism and the LGBT community, whom she described as “the Pink community”, coining the term sometime in 2009. It was only in 2012 that she again began to write non-activist material.
During 2014, Christina was approached to contribute poetry to an anthology being assembled for the Gauteng Department of Education. “Words of Wisdom” was published in February 2015 and her poem “Love Will Never Be The Same” was included in the volume.
Also in the same year, she completed and published “Dead Beckoning” – and a day later, she was offered a contract with J. Ellington-Ashton Press, a small press based in the USA. As a result of her being now signed with a traditional publisher, she was obliged to take down all her books from Lulu and waited for them to reappear via JEA.
“Blachart” reappeared through JEA later in 2014, followed by “Demonspawn” in 2015. “African Assignment” was re-released in early 2016. While “Dead Beckoning” was still in edits, JEA experienced an identity crisis and had a dramatic and very public meltdown, then abruptly decided it was a “purist horror” publisher and would no longer handle other genres! Multiple disgruntled and abandoned authors were sent signed releases for their works in March 2016, and Christina again found herself without a publisher – and worse, she had to start all over again! Rather than throw in the towel, she leapt right back into indie publishing, and after some editing and revision, she republished her books on Lulu.com. Between 2017 and 2019, she expanded her publishing and marketing platform.
In December 2019, Christina signed up with Moon Books Publishing, run by Brandon Mullins, an American friend of hers who had included some of her short stories in the Moon Books Horror Anthology series. Moon Books took on most of her titles, and while she maintained the right to self-publish the same books via other platforms, she withdrew from Amazon to allow Moon Books to sell via that platform in paperback and eBook formats. In February 2020, “Blachart” was the first of her books to go into production as an audiobook through Moon Books, narrated by Nigel Peever, who also narrated “Demonspawn“. Also released during 2020 were “Malice!“, narrated by Michelle Innes and “When Darkness Calls“, narrated by Miciah Dodge. In July 2021, “Black Sunrise” went into production in audiobook format, narrated by Darla Middlebrook, who also recorded the rest of the Quantum series and “Opsaal” during 2021 and early 2022. Christina was ecstatic – with each passing year, her royalties doubled. But it was not to last.
Sadly in January 2022, Brandon Mullins died unexpectedly, and Moon Books Publishing with him. So too, did her newfound reach and expectations for continuing future growth. Her writing income plummeted back to the same level she’d maintained in 2017. Again, rather than quit, she doubled-down, reclaimed her author publishing rights and went totally indie once more. Peever Publishing took over all the audiobooks from Moon Books Publishing in November 2022.
In May 2023, Christina completed and published three novels at once, books 7, 8 and 9 in the Quantum Series: “Underground Movement“, “Xanadu” and “The Last Hurrah” and a one-act play, “The Traitor Loyal“.
COMMITTEE, BOARD, DIRECTOR & MEMBERSHIPS:
Christina held the following positions in various NGO’s and activist organizations during her activist career, and presently holds no committee or board memberships.
- Board Member: OUT!ology (2017 – 2018).
- Researcher: The Alternative Religions Forum (2013 – 2014).
- Executive Committee Member, South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) (2012 – 2018).
- Director: Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association (ECGLA) (2009 – 2011).
- Chairperson, Ward 5 Committee (Democratic Alliance) (2008 – 2010).
- Director: SA Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD) (2008 – 2018).
- 2010: Christina won the Ebook Diva writing contest held on Facebook in 2010. Her short story “Homecoming” received the most votes as the winning short story.
- 2016 March 19: The SA Pagan Council (SAPC) awarded Christina the “Ribbon on the Witches Bouquet” prize for her advocacy work on behalf of the SA Pagan Community.
Connect With Christina Engela
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