The Activist in Residence (AiR) initiative prioritises the creation of space within Fahamu for reflection, writing and dissemination of research by an activist. It is our belief that being away from regular responsibilities allows for reflection.
We will offer office space in addition to the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with Fahamu staff, partner institutions and movements. An AiR contributes to Fahamu by immersing in the organisation’s weekly activities, programmes and hosting a Tafakari forum
Each residency will be tailor made to the needs of the activist in question.
Phumi Mtetwa is a South African activist who was active from the age of twelve in the freedom struggle of the 80s and 90s. In post-apartheid South Africa, she has focused her energies on linking LGBTIQ struggles with other social and political justice struggles, including through her activism in the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).
She was International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Co-Secretary General from 1999 to 2001 and in 2000, moved to Ecuador, where she was active in social movement processes, including the World Social Forum, the LGBT South-South Dialogue and the Global Network of Social Movements, for seven years. She returned to South Africa in July 2007, where she assumed the Directorship of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project until 2011.
She is currently involved in various progressive initiatives in South Africa including the Amandla Collective, the Democratic Left and the South African labor movement. Phumi's residency at Fahamu will extend for the period November 2011 to September 2012 in order for her to explore preliminary research on non-conventional entry points for the queer struggle in Africa in particular looking at the intersections of the state, business and workers movements.
For the past 6 months I have been engaged in research interrogating the building and strengthening of meaningful alliances to advance a progressive agenda to win freedom for queer people in South Africa. The country has the oldest visible lesbian and gay movement, including laws supporting LGBTI rights to equality in Africa, yet many of the activists I have interviewed speak of "an absent movement" or an "emerging movement".
The 15 people interviewed come from different walks of life – unionists, queer/LGBTI activists, politicians, political analysts. The most challenging actors to find are members of the business community in order to examine the role of business, including queer owned businesses, and how they see the movement against the rhetoric that the country's Constitution and all the progressive laws are under threat. The draft report of the SA research will be out in May. Towards the end of May I will be in Kenya replicating some lessons from the SA study for a Kenyan comparative. The other two countries to be drawn into the comparative study are India and Brazil.