3rd Annual Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture: “Black. Love. Borders”

Simon Nkoli

Simon Nkoli

The 3rd Annual Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture will take place on 8 October at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.

One of the icons of LGBTI liberation, Nkoli, at a time of immense social and political silencing, exclusion and oppression of black thought and action, showed passionate leadership and desire for social justice and universal human rights.

Nkoli founded the Saturday Group, South Africa’s first regional gay black organisation, as well as co-founding the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Witwatersrand (GLOW), the first national non-racial LGBT organisation in South Africa. He was also one of the co-creators of the very first Johannesburg Pride.

He died in hospital from HIV related illnesses at the age of 41 on 30 November 1998. His efforts played a key role in ensuring that sexual orientation is protected under South Africa’s Constitution.

In attempting to continue Simon’s activism, the inaugural Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture was organised in 2014 by Mpho Bunts, the then president of the University of Johannesburg student LGBTI formation, UJ Liberati.

In 2015, the lecture became public, with the theme: Preserving the legacy of Nkoli: Addressing Current Challenges. The lecture was supported by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), UJ Liberati and Constitution Hill.

The panel included activists such as Phumzile Mtetwa; Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron; Director of Access Chapter 2, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike; activist Busi Deyi; and other activists who painted a picture of how lessons learnt from Nkoli’s life can be applied to our current struggle.

This year the lecture focuses on three themes:

1) HIV/AIDS-MSM African experiences and a link to the recently held AIDS conference discussions;

2) Human rights freedoms in relation to the continued LGBTI and sexual orientation-gender identity (SOGI) discrimination and violence; and

3) Youth and liberation in relation to the continuous call for free education.

The 3rd annual lecture promises to be informative and a preservation of Nkoli’s legacy as a game changer. The lecture is made possible by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, Constitution Hill and the Other Foundation.

The event takes place on Saturday 8 October at Constitution Hill, from 1pm till 4pm. It will include a panel discussion, a plenary discussion and performances by Albert Ibokwe Khoza, Amstel and Majola, as well as poetry by Hlehle.

For more information, please contact Mpho Buntse on porozathabang@gmail.com.

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