Written by Katlego Kganyago


Ndumie Funda is the Founder of Luleki Sizwe, a non-profit organisation that provides shelter for disenfranchised lesbian women who have been evicted from their homes and communities. Luleki Sizwe was established 31 March 2008, after Ndumie lost a partner Nosizwe Bizana, and a best friend Luleka Makiwane to HIV/ AIDS: both queer women are victims of sexual violence. Luleki Sizwe means to “discipline the nation” and it is an acronym of the women who played a significant role in Ndumie’s life. Their lives are commemorated through the organisation. 

Luleki Sizwe also facilitates programmes around Gugulethu’s sections that are focused on peer education, changing negative perceptions about queer people, distributing food parcels and raising awareness on social issues affecting the community. Ndumie has a string of accolades for her courageous work on philanthropy such as the IGTLA Community Honours in 2016 at the IGTLA Annual Global Convention in Cape Town. During June 2012 to March 2013, Ndumie completed a fellowship under MAX Aids Fund Leadership in HIV Prevention at UCLA.

Katlego: What are the challenges in your field?

Ndumie: I self-fund Luleki Sizwe and we are facing severe financial issues. I use my own shelter to house vulnerable lesbian women. I provide housing, clothing and feed them with my means and it is draining. We have been in the activism space for long but we are not receiving financial relief. I buried a lesbian woman with my own funds and gave her a decent send-off, none of the big organisations could assist. During COVID-19, Gender DynamiX was one of the few organisations that assisted with food parcels and I appreciated that. I’m not seeing people on the ground and queer people are dying. Some big organisations are doing nothing but they are receiving funding from international donors.

K: Who do you look up to and why?

N: I look up to myself. I am inspired by the life and work of Phumi Mthethwa as well as Zanele Muholi.

K: Where do you get the strength to do the work you are called for? 

N: The pain and struggle of those less fortunate than me inspires me to reach out. It’s something that has been circulating in my vessels since I was a young child growing up in the dusty area of Gugulethu, and participating in the anti-Apartheid movement. I also ask God to give me the strength I need when I pray.

K: Any advice you would like to share with our readers that would love to follow your path?

N: I advise queer folk who are interested in my work to follow principles that guide my life which are persistence, perseverance, patience and passion. That allows me to be strong in building movements and people’s organisations. 

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