Telang Sekotlo – Lesotho

Telang Sekotlo – Lesotho

Date: June 30, 2015
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Telang Sekotlo mentioned that he never thought he would one day stand in front of people preaching about gender, but everything has changed now. He is an example in the community; he believes in what he preaches. Telang Sekotlo was born in the district of Quthing and he described himself as a very reserved, shy and quiet person. After completing his matric and waiting for the results, life wasn’t easy; he did not have anything to do and the waiting was killing him, so he decided to volunteer at GIZ where he was assisting tourists from Germany. He would go around with them and interpret. “I could not express myself that my much, but I believed in myself and told myself that I have to do it.”

Sekotlo worked with GIZ for three months, where he was showing tourists around and researching possible sites that could be turned into tourist’s sites. He fell in love with tourism, but he wanted more, he wanted to something more engaging that he could always relate to his community. Despite this, politics never crossed his mind.

He learned to love what he was doing, and ended up liking tourism so much, since he would interact with so many people. That’s is when his community realized his potential. When results came out, he wanted to do continue his studies in tourism, as he was so much in love with it, and wanted to increase his country’s economy by bringing more tourists to his country, especially in his rural village. Althought he wanted to learn about tourism so much, he was not able to gain admittance into any of the colleges and universities. This did not stop him from doing something better with his life, and instead he studied carpentry and joinery at the Lerotholi Polytechnic for two years. After completing the programme, he was more involved in community work than before.

In 2011, the country was going to hold local government elections, and his community convinced him to stand for the elections as an independent candidate. Fortunately, he won the elections. He had always wanted to interact more with the community. He didn’t know much about gender concepts and issues. He assumed it meant that women were allowed to disrespect their partners, so was not that keen to know what it entailed. After a few months, the council got the message that Gender Links wanted to have a meeting with the councillors; he mentioned that he was not keen when he heard the word ‘gender’ and he thought to himself that it was one of those organisations run by unmarried women who go everywhere spreading “this rubbish”, but he decided to attend the meeting.

Gender Links made only a brief presentation, but in this time he was able to change his mind about gender. It was a meeting of stages 1&2 of the COE process, and he was told that was just an introduction to the full workshop to be done. Even without it, he was satisfied and had changed his mind. Though he did not have that much information, he was able to change the minds of some in his community who were just like him.

After a few weeks, GL returned with the full four day workshop, and he described the workshop as a very important and eye opener that he would not forget; his life would never be the same again. He is now able to influence decisions in the council, especially if there is no gender awareness. Like, he remembered when the council was deciding to build a borehole for the community, and most men were thinking about a site that was very far; it was going to be difficult for women, as they would have to travel long distances to get there. He was able to show his colleagues that it would not fair for women, and the council should select a place that was going to be accessible for both women and men.

During the management elections, he influenced his fellow councillors, especially women to support each other and elect one another, because he realized that most women still believe that only men can be leaders. He won; three women were elected into management along with two men. He was very excited and he was even being able to be elected as one of the councillors to come for the district summit. He is now able to sit down and make decisions with his wife; it was not the case before GL trainings; now he even volunteers to babysit his small kids, which is not something that he would have been able to do before.


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