When Rebone Masemola noticed a sharp increase in gender and sexuality-based violence she chose the road less travelled – and became a formidable activist in South Africa where homophobia, bigotry and misogyny are rampant.
Masemola is a beacon of hope for many as she has created judgement-free platforms that support the vilified and ostracised of society. Armed with a Masters' degree in anthropology from Wits University, she has created an online platform called Woke Project that showcases the stories and lived experiences of women and LGBTQI communities in South Africa.
“It’s still a challenge to broadly create spaces in society where young women can fully and completely be themselves without worrying about their safety. My dream is that young people coming of age can someday grow up in a world where they don’t have to worry about their safety, where they aren’t afraid to be different,” said Masemola.
Masemola recently joined BET Africa as Digital Media Manager to oversee the channel's digital media presence and digital media production efforts. She also plans, markets, facilitates and hosts an offline initiative, #WokeSaturdays, that brings together and showcases the works of young Emerging Thinkers.
Masemola has also worked on a digital series discussion with BBC global to explore how the country’s history of racism contributed to colourism within the black community. In partnership with CIVICUS she also hosted a Creative Summit, bringing together young people to re-imagine South Africa’s democracy using different artistic mediums, like photography, poetry and film.
“Even though we live in a constitutional democracy that is meant to protect all citizens despite their race, gender, sexuality and identity, South Africa is still institutionally conservative and patriarchal,” Masemola said.
“I want young women in the world to fight for what they believe and stand their ground in a world that seeks to police their bodies, movements and voices. I want them to know they are not alone in their experience and encourage them to always find ways to create safe spaces for themselves and other women around them.”