Filmmaker, gender and gay rights activist Beverley Ditsie has been named the 2022 Artfluence Human Rights Champion. The Award was launched in 2021 by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to honour and celebrate artists who are defenders of human rights. The Awards are part of the Artfluence Human Rights Festival taking place online and at The Nelson Mandela Capture Site from 3 to 8 May 2022.
In 1995, Ditsie marked an iconic moment in UN history when the UN, for the first time, addressed LGBTIQ+ rights. Ditsie delivered an impassionate address at the UN International Women’s Conference held in Beijing on the need to enshrine LGBGTQI+ rights inequality laws.
“If the World Conference on Women is to address the concerns of all women, it must similarly recognize that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of basic human rights”, said Beverley Ditsie when she addressed delegates at the conference. Ditsie was also a co-founder of South Africa’s inaugural Pride Parade held in Johannesburg in 1990. Since then, she has become a leading international figure in gay rights activism.
“We are honoured to present the 2nd annual Artfluence Human Rights Champion award to Beverly Ditsie because it was her activism, courage and leadership that played a vital role contributing, amongst other activists, to shaping equality rights in the South African Constitution”, said Ismail Mahomed, the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
This year, the Centre for Creative Arts will introduce two additional awards. The Artfluence Lifetime Achievers Award will honour a veteran defender of human rights in South Africa. The inaugural Artfluence Human Rights Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to veteran poet, author, journalist and community activist Don Mattera.
Growing up in Sophiatown and harassed by the security police for his political activism Don Mattera was banned from 1973 to 1982. He spent three years under house arrest. During the resistance to apartheid, he helped form the Union of Black Journalists and the Congress of South African Writers. He worked as a journalist for the Sunday Times, the Sowetan and the Weekly Mail (now known as the Mail and Guardian). His book Memory is the Weapon is a living testament of his early years which continues to inspire.
The Artfluence Youth Activism Award is presented to a person under the age of 35 whose contributions to the struggle for social justice are both visionary, energetic and impactful. The inaugural Artfluence Youth Activism award will be presented to Irfaan Mangera, the youth programmes coordinator at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
Speaking at the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training in September 2021, Irfaan Mangera said that young people continued to be excluded from the economy and positions of power. He chose to become a human rights educator because it was the space and the platform in which he could create the most change and impact and influence the lives of young people. His work encouraged young people in South Africa to take charge, organize themselves, mobilize young people in their communities and develop consciousness.
Acknowledging the Award, Mangera said, “I thank the Centre for Creative Arts for bestowing this honour to me, and hope to honour this by continued service to youth and the people of this country in general. In such a turbulent and tragic time in our country’s democracy, I hope to build on the legacy of resilience, action and change in taking forward a progressive agenda to reshape our world into one that is more caring, just, and people-centred”.
“At a time in South Africa where political leadership in South Africa is at its lowest ebb, the Artfluence Human Rights Awards seeks to celebrate artists whose legacy as defenders of human rights is inspiring and which can revitalize a moral compass that is based on South Africa’s constitutional values”, said Ismail Mahomed, the Director for the Centre for Creative Arts.
The 2nd annual Artfluence Human Rights festival, supported by the uMngeni Municipality and uMngeni Tourism and presented by the Centre for Creative Arts, will take place from 3 – 8 May 2022 as both a live and online festival. The full festival programme is available at artfluence.ukzn.ac.za. For enquiries: email email@example.com or find Artfluence on social media: @artfluencefest