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Celebrating the life of Tseko Nkoli

Written by: More Matshediso

Dance lovers are being treated to a dance solo performed by the award-winning Dancer and Choreographer Thami Tshabalala, who pays tribute to Simon Tseko Nkoli.

The solo piece titled SIMON has been on show from Wednesday and will end on Sunday at the South African State Theatre.

It is delivered to the audiences in memory of the late anti-apartheid, gay rights, and HIV and AIDS activist Simon Tseko Nkoli.

According to the State Theatre, Nkoli was born in 1957 and passed on in 1998, he is attributed as the father of the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in South Africa.

In 1983 he joined Gay and Lesbian Association of South Africa (GASA) and also formed the first black gay group which was called ‘Saturday Group’.

He also founded the Gay and Lesbian Organization (GLOW) with fellow LGBTI activist Bev Ditsie, and initiated the first gay pride movement in South Africa.

He became a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Association board, representing Africa. He also fought against apartheid and spoke at rallies in support of rental boycotts at the Vaal.

NKoli was arrested in 1984 alongside 21 other political leaders for treason. He came out about his sexuality whilst in prison to the other members which helped change the attitude of the ANC towards gay rights.

The solo piece SIMON pays homage to this legendary activist and the narrative details the fruitful journey of his struggles, triumphs, social acceptance to the brim of his existence. The work debuted at the recent relaunch of Dance Umbrella Africa in April.

“We seldom celebrate and acknowledge those superficial to us, unknown yet impacted the lives we treasure today. Simon’s life journey and the values he stood for connected deeply with me which in turn motivated me to acknowledge and appreciate the history we have, see it as art and paint my own canvas,” he said.

“We have a vast archive of inhabitant stories which are rooted in Africa, stories about- of our people which have never seen the light of day,” Tshabalala added.

Tshabalala graduated with a Diploma in Dance (cum-laude) and was awarded the Kelsey Middleton floating trophy for Best Contemporary Dancer and Best Choreography for his work ‘And the Soft Voices Die.’

Tickets for SIMON can be purchased for R80 at Webtickets online and Pick n Pay stores.