For much of December Shiloh Project co-leads Johanna Stiebert and Katie Edwards spent time in Lesotho and Botswana together with Mmapula Kebaneilwe. All three are working together on an AHRC-funded International Highlight Notice Grant entitled ‘Resisting Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Injustice Through Activism with Bible Texts and Images’. The main purpose of the visit was to find and to begin to get to know potential project collaborators. The visit was timed to coincide with the UN Sixteen Days of Activism and with World AIDS Day.

The trip started in Lesotho, a mountain kingdom land-locked by South Africa. Lesotho is one of the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipient list.

The three visited the organization Help Lesotho, which has offices in both Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, and Hlotse (also known as Leribe). While visiting Hlotse they met with Country Director Shadrack Mutembei and observed and participated in a leadership camp for high schoolers.

The work of Help Lesotho is impressive and broad in scope, focusing on all of leadership training, education, economic support (particularly for grandmothers and young mothers) and on programmes aimed both at preventing HIV infection and on living with HIV.  A subsidiary group, Girl4ce, does much to address GBV, child marriage and other forms of forced marriage, particularly througheducation and activism conveyed through public performances.

While in Lesotho, Johanna, Katie and Mmapula also visited Morija and Roma. The latter is the location of the National University of Lesotho where they met with academics and administrators to explore opportunities for collaboration.

From Lesotho, all three went to Gaborone, where Mmapula Kebaneilwe is Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies. Mmapula arranged visits with two organisations: Legabibo (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Botswana) and women’s right’sgroup Emang Basadi (‘Women Stand Up!’). Johanna and Katie also attended a special church service dedicated to GBV prevention (held at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Gaborone), with speakers Honourable Philip Makgalemele, the Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture, Ms Lorato Moalusi, of the Botswana GBV Prevention and Support Centre and MrPeter Sejoe of the organisation Men and Boys for Gender Equality Engaged. Furthermore, they met with other academics from the University of Botswana (including Maude Dikobe, Musa Dube, Rosinah Gabaitse and Malebogo Kgalemang), as well as with the Minister for International Affairs and Cooperation, the Honourable Unity Dow and also two of the editors of a forthcoming anthology of Botswana women writers, Leloba Molema and Mary Lederer.

Katie, Johanna and Mmapula also travelled up to Kasane, in the North of Botswana. This small town is expected to expand dramatically, due to the impending opening of the Kazungula Bridge at the border between Botswana and Zambia. Also, due to proximity with both Namibia and Zimbabwe as well, there is expectation of both refugee surges and of an increase in sex trafficking. While there, the three visited the local Department of Gender, the police station and the local library, which is a hub for training and dissemination of information.

All in all it was a productive trip. Next, MmapulaKebaneilwe will be visiting the UK as part of the same AHRC project in March 2019. She will be making presentations at both the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield and will attend the ‘Women and Gender in the Bible and the Ancient World Conference’ in Glasgow (29 March 2019).

Johanna Stiebert and Katie Edwards will attend the gathering of the Circle for Concerned African Women Theologians at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana, 2-5 July 2019.

1. Banner for the Leadership Camp at Help Lesotho, Hlotse(Leribe), Lesotho.

2. Help Lesotho logo.

3. A participant at the Help Lesotho Leadership Camp goes over a statement on ‘values’.

4. A counselor at the Help Lesotho Leadership Camp writes suggestions on the board.

5. Katie Edwards, Mmapula Kebaneilwe and Johanna Stiebert in Lesotho, with iconic Qiloane in the background

6. The National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho

7. A sign about HIV prevention, outside the National University of Lesotho

8. Poster at the University of Botswana

9. Literature from Legabibo

10. SUN newspaper

11. Open Letter

12. The city of Gaborone by night, with the Hindu Temple and Main Mosque in view

13. Newspaper article on GBV

14. Church service on resisting GBV, Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Gaborone, Botswana

15. Ms Lorato Moalusi, GBV church service

16. Johanna and Mmapula, visiting Emang Basadi

17. Kasane Public Library

18. Kasane, near the health post

19. Large Baobab tree at the Kasane Police Station

Tags : AHRCJohanna StiebertKatie EdwardsMmapula KebaneilweNational University of LesothoUniversity of Botswana

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