Pissing people off is part and parcel of all movements that seek to upend the status quo and feminism particularly ruffles feathers because “how dare WOMEN?”
For Ndiilokelwa, it was reading that set them on their feminist journey and shaped their perspective on what the feminist movement and struggle are about. Being a non-binary, lesbian feminist, they found solace and community in the books they read when it could not be found in the society around them.
Namibia, like most other former British colonies, inherited laws from their colonial masters. Part of these adopted laws are laws concerning abortion. Abortions are only permissible to save the mother’s life or in the case of rape or incest. Even in these cases, some stringent and unreasonable processes make it almost unattainable. It is a cycle of denying women their bodily autonomy and giving institutions and people far removed from their reality the right to make decisions about their bodies. What this does is make women opt for unsafe alternatives for abortions. Ndiilokelwa’s activism focuses on removing these barriers to the right of women to bodily autonomy and self-determination.
Gender non-conformity is a novel concept to many Africans and people tend to be averse to what they do not understand because of a deliberate unwillingness to learn. Many Africans believe that any identity outside of cisgender heterosexuality is an advent of the west. They believe that the LGBTQ+ community in Africa is a result of western influence. This is simply not true. Numerous western-influenced ideologies and practices have been adopted to the extent of erasure of our cultures and norms yet these remain unquestioned.
Shut it down Namibia was spurred on by the death of Ndiilokelwa’s cousin, an adolescent girl who had gone missing. The news of her death set the movement in motion in response to gender-based violence and the routine undermining and neglect of the problem. The shut it down Namibia protests marked one of the defining movements in the history of activism by women in Africa.
Ndiilokelwa also speaks on power dynamics and the need for intersectionality and representation of people with diverse identities with the end goal of inclusivity. It is always assumed that everyone’s rights are considered even in spaces where disadvantaged groups are not represented at all. Sexual and gender minorities are excluded from laws that should be for their protection as well. This erasure is a major driving force behind the mission to document, protect and further women’s causes around the continent.
Listen to Ndiilokelwa speak to Kiki Mordi on Document Women’s podcast, We’re Not Crazy You Are.