SOWETO • SOUTH AFRICA • 28 – 30 SEPTEMBER 2015
Everyone should be free to live a safe and dignified life, have a family and make their contribution to society – no matter who they are or who they love. We need to figure out what is working and what does not, to make this a lived reality in southern Africa. That was the purpose for convening this kopano.
Our inaugural kopano Freedom for All provided a unique and empowering strategy space for groups that are working to advance and protect the human rights, social inclusion, and wellbeing of homosexual and bisexual women and men, as well as transgender and intersex people in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Remarkably positive feedback has been received from many of the over 100 activists from 11 African countries, who engaged in facilitated strategy discussions geared towards shifting the paradigm of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] activism from individual sexual rights to transformative social change.
“What an amazing conference! So much motivation for us as African social movements.” Alain Redcliffe, OUT!ology Network
“It was a delightful experience.” Melusi Simelani, Swaziland
“I am truly grateful to the Other Foundation for being part of this amazing conference.” Ricky Nathanson, Zimbabwe
Breaking away from dreary conference formats, the kopano was purposefully designed as a community gathering, to facilitate as much soul-searching, interaction and discussion between participants as possible. It was defined by collaborative organizing, enough time for remembering those who have gone before us, and great moments for celebration of new milestones that have been reached. 1 in 4 participants was actively engaged in the running of the kopano – by being a co-facilitator, volunteer, or intern. There was emphasis on self-empowerment and community building through working with activists from the media, faith groups, organizations focused on human rights defense from a legal perspective, health and wellbeing organizations, and social justice movements. In addition, high profile panelists and moderators in plenary sessions helped to unpack the possibilities of alliance building with non-LGBTI groups and challenge participants to re-invent their approaches.
Our kopano was also innovatively documented in video by a cohort of media interns working with more experienced media professionals, so as to be able to share the experience far beyond the immediate participants in the kopano. In the interest of those who couldn’t attend our kopano (and for those who wish to relive some moments), we have uploaded footage of the plenary sessions, which can be viewed on our kopano-dedicated YouTube channel. Click on the links below to watch recordings of the key plenary sessions.
Gains made from across the region over the last 12 to 18 months are interrogated for lessons to strengthen our work.
Moderator: Eusebius McKaiser – Social Commentator.
Panelists: Danilo Da Silva – LAMBDA; Fadzai Muparutsa – Coalition of African Lesbians; Ricky Nathanson – Southern Africa Regional Trans Forum; Monica Tabengwa – Activist; Steve Letsike – National Task Team, South Africa, Access Chapter 2.
Presentation: Carla Sutherland – The Other Foundation
Speakers: Miguel De Brito – Trustee; Neville Gabriel – The Other Foundation.
Exploring what it will take to build strong alliances with related sectors.
Moderator: Alice Mogwe – Trustee.
Panelists: Malusi Mpumlwana – South African Council of Churches; Edwin Cameron – Constitutional Court of South Africa; Karima Brown – Independent Media; Lindiwe Zikhali – Anglo American.
Short inputs on new and innovative work happening in the region.
Moderator: Ian Southey-Swartz – Open Society Foundations.
Panelists: Faraaz Mohamed – South African Human Rights Commission; Mukami Marate – UHAI, The East Africa Sexual Health and Rights Initiative; Swelakhe Shelembe – KwaZulu Natal Christian Council; Finn Reygan – Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action; Jabu Pereira – Iranti.
What is needed to achieve sustainable social change, from human resources to strategy and everything in-between?
Given limited resources and trying environments, which areas of focus have been proven best at effecting change ?
Many hands make light work – are you aware of these opportunities?