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AMSHeR Announces New Executive Director

Humphrey Melusi Ndondo, AMSHeR’s Executive Director

 

AMSHeR Announces New Executive Director

JOHANNESBURG, November 20, 2017 – The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) is pleased to announce the selection of Humphrey Melusi Ndondo as its next Executive Director. He will join the team on December 1, 2017, following the departure of Kene Esom at the end of August 2017 after six years with the organisation. The appointment was made after a highly subscribed search and recruitment process.

‘Humphrey’s experience as a public health practitioner and advocate for non-discrimination is a great fit,’ said Andre Wagner, Chairperson of AMSHeR’s Human Resources Committee and Board Vice Chair, who led the Executive Transition Committee. ‘He is a proven change agent who has advanced important work for key populations using a unified framework of equality.’

Humphrey currently serves as Director for the Sexual Rights Centre in Zimbabwe and has been involved in human rights advocacy efforts for various marginalised communities including sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and people living with disabilities.  Prior to his career as a human rights defender, he worked in psychosocial rehabilitation as an Occupational Therapist and a Field Coordinator on the Zimbabwe Field Epidemiology Training Programme (ZimFETP) at the University of Zimbabwe. His current research interests involve exploring the lived heterosexist experiences of LGBT persons, the lived experiences and vulnerability to HIV among minors in sex work, as well as unpacking the intersection of religion, culture and human rights for sexual and gender minorities.

Humphrey noted, My vision for AMSHeR is inspired by the fact that the organisation turns ten years in 2019. I envision an AMSHeR with a strong and mature leadership, one that is responsive to the constituency that it serves at a national, regional and global level. I picture an AMSHeR with a wider remit and a deeper accountability in ensuring that men who have sex with men (MSM) and LGBT individuals in Africa are recognised and respected as full citizens in their respective countries, that diversity is celebrated and not criminalised and that sexual and gender diverse persons realise their potential and live full happy lives.’

Humphrey received his Master’s in Public Health from the University of Zimbabwe where he had earlier earned his undergraduate degree. Humphrey is looking forward to this new challenge and will rely on his personal values of transparency, respect, integrity “Ubuntu”, compassion, frugality, human rights, intersectionality, courage and perseverance and celebration of diversity on the African continent.

Message from AMSHeR Board Chair, Justice Monica Mbaru
On behalf of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Humphrey Melusi Ndondo as the new Executive Director of AMSHeR. Humphrey is an advocate for the rights of sexual minorities on the African continent and has served as Director for the Sexual Rights Centre in Zimbabwe.

Humphrey was born in post-Independence Zimbabwe to a middle-class family where he learned at an early age the values of respect, integrity, compassion, generosity and excellence. He has been involved in human rights advocacy efforts for marginalised communities including sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and people living with disabilities. Prior to starting his career as a Human Rights Defender, he did work in psychosocial rehabilitation as an Occupational Therapist and a Field Coordinator on the Zimbabwe Field Epidemiology Training Programme (ZimFETP) at the University of Zimbabwe. Humphrey has a stellar reputation as a leader who is highly skilled, collaborative, open, passionate and curious.

The executive transition team, chaired by the chairperson of the human resources committee of AMSHeR and vice chairperson has unanimously recommended Humphrey to the Board to be our next Executive Director and the Board has unanimously approved the recommendation. We believe he will make an excellent leader for AMSHeR as a visionary, brave leader, and we believe he has the skills that AMSHeR needs in its next transformative journey.

Humphrey is going to spend the next few weeks in learning and listening, and will take over the Executive Director position on December 1, 2017. His first priority will be to immerse himself in deepening his understanding of the AMSHeR coalition.

I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the board of directors to pass on our heartfelt thanks to Berry Didier Nibogora, AMSHeR’s law and human rights advocacy manager for doing a stellar job at overseeing the secretariat during the period of transition following the departure of Kene Esom, AMSHeR’s previous Executive Director and current strategic initiatives advisor to the board. The transition would not have been possible without the entire secretariat support, to all staff, most appreciated.

The AMSHeR board is delighted to have reached such a successful outcome in its search for a new Executive Director and I ask you to join me in extending a warm welcome to Humphrey and AMSHeR’s new Executive Director.

Media Contact
Juliet Mphande
+2711 242 6800
juliet@amsher.org

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Her name was Simelane

Lesbian lives don’t matter – not enough, not the way they should. Hate motivates vicious attacks and gruesome murders of women. South African soccer star Simelane Simelane suffered such a fatal fate.

The screening of Eudy Simelane: A Life Cut Short at the Batho ba Lorato Film Festival in Gaborone re-opened in February, salting closed wounds.

Eudy Simelane was a renowned South African national soccer star. She was brutally gang-raped and murdered in her home town Kwa-Thema, near Springs on the East Rand, in Gauteng, South Africa. Her killing unveiled a deep cancer within the community – it personified the cultural, religious and societal intolerance towards the LGBTQI community. It forced people to internalise how bigotry creates a ripe environment for hate crime.

The documentary unloaded the  results of society’s violent obsession with gender roles and sexual orientation. Simelane came from a family of avid soccer fanatics. Both her parents and brother, Bafana, were soccer players. However, Simelane’s undeniable talent for soccer and autonomic expression was met with stigmatic hues from perpetrators.

In the film her brother expressed anguish in reaction to the men who brutally violated his sister’s body: It was planned. You cannot be famous in the township, and have someone do something bad to you as if they don’t know who you are.

“They knew her. Why couldn’t they ask her out? Or try to establish her gender and fail knowing that they tried to ask her out?”

Rape cases like Simelane’s are barely reported in Botswana. As the Gender-Based Violence indicator study in Botswana shows, that the number of reported rape cases has increased by 24% from 2003 to 2010. There was a larger number of unreported cases based on stigmatic practices, as lesbians face different forms of marginalisation in society.

Simelane’s story ignited the need to speak out more on the importance of eradicating discrimination and protecting the lives of lesbians in Botswana. A conversation that could not be ignored inside of one the most popular cinemas in the country, where the film festival was hosted.

The fifth edition of the festival ignited discussions surrounding discrimination and the internalised pain that the LGBTQI community face. It also trekked a journey towards an inclusive society where LGBTQI rights could be implemented. The festival included a panel discussion where the audience could express their thoughts on the movies screened.

One of the panelists shared their thoughts on Simelane’s documentary taking it back to basics: “What is corrective rape?” she asked. “What are they correcting?”

This focused on how even society’s definition of the hate crime is problematic. She further mentioned that if society carries on using  the term ‘corrective rape’ people will think that there is something wrong with the victim. That something about them needs to be corrected – fixed.

She recalled a conversation she’d had with a colleague where they’d expressed their  sympathy – some semblance of understanding towards the perpetrators of this hate crime. This because society had taught them that there was something wrong with the women.

The panelist boldly pronounced the need for LGBTQI activists to keep spreading accurate information. She insisted on the importance of the practice to continue with similar conversations where the definition of targeted rape towards lesbians is redefined. Especially lesbians who are practicing their right of freedom of expression and so challenging stereotypical gender identities in how they express themselves.

When festival goers were asked to share the thoughts the screenings induced they said:

Hillary Molebatsi speaks

Hillary Molebatsi speaks

“The only way I can be comfortable with myself is if I have friends who are gay, if I have friends who are cool about it, and a family that is supportive. It’s unfortunate that not all of us have that background and people  in the community carry those issues internally. I like that the festival shows these issues.” – Hillary Molebatsi

Ava Avalos speaks

Ava Avalos speaks

“It’s you, young people that are going to change the dialogue. It’s not just about watching a movie. It’s about building communities; communities of wisdom, communities of awareness –  that is what is going to save us. That is the only way we are going to overcome HIV in the LGBTI community. But  how do we overcome ignorance, really? How do we go about changing the conversation entirely?” – Ava Avalos

Refilwe Gaelesiwe speaks

Refilwe Gaelesiwe speaks

“I think it’s safe to say that Botswana is fighting and it is not backing down in its fight. People are coming out to say: ‘This is who we are and we need to be heard.’ It’s becoming  louder and louder in the sense that people now recognise their freedom of assembly They are no longer afraid to assemble and talk about issues that affect them.” – Refilwe Galeisiwe

Bonnie Sepora speaks

Bonnie Sepora speaks

“Every time we talk of LGBTI issues we link it to sex, But LGBTI persons are more than just sexual beings; we are social beings, psychological beings, emotional beings, political beings, cultural beings, religious beings. I think this is something that we really need to teach the community – that there is more to being gay than sex.” – Bonnie Sepora

Her name was Simelane

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