ADVOCACY MEETS POLITICS. THE NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN.

Maseru– In the rural village called Ha Elia (Maphotong), forming part of the famous Thaba Putsoa range in the district of Maseru, a rising star keeps challenging and defying all odds while ensuring liberty for all. Born, bred and raised in a Roman Catholic family set-up, as a transman, Sheriff Mothopeng is indeed making their way up, where eagles den.  

Sheriff Mothopeng (Born Lineo Mothopeng) is a very well-known trans, gender non-conforming, Human Rights activist and accountability enthusiast in issues that deal with both marginalized and underserved population across Africa. Their love for strategic advocacy started in the early stages of joining one of the local LGBTQI+ organizations in late 2000. 

Sheriff has worked with several local and international organizations in the past 14 years that have been advancing human rights. Sheriff worked both nationally and regionally with some of the UN bodies to advocate for recognition of human rights of underserved groups. 

Sheriff has had several national advocacy strides in Lesotho in the pursuit of inclusion for all. One of the most successful mark was the ability to legally challenge the government of Lesotho through its Ministry of Home Affairs in changing their name from that assigned from birth to the desired, post starting their transitioning journey. This, among many others, is why Sheriff is a star. In quest for inclusion, Sheriff further challenges the government of Lesotho to comprehensively review and wipe their gender lens so as to treat gender as a spectrum and not a static matter through cultural norms and learned behaviour. This quest can be termed Legal Gender Recognition. 

With the need to do more for those neglected and without a voice, they later became the first ever trans-identifying person in Lesotho to undergo and champion a critical surgery called Subcutaneous mastectomy known to many as the upper body surgery. This is a reconstructive surgery where transmen are given a masculine looking chest. This was done to flag visibility of trans health needs in Lesotho so as to include them in the national primary healthcare planning. 

It is indeed not unexpected to now realize the active participation of Sheriff in politics given their immense advocacy track record and the impact they have had to change the lives of Basotho. Sheriff stood for the Thaba Putsoa Constituency in the recent elections, under the newly formed political party by a local business mogul Mr. Sam Matekane, known as Revolution For Prosperity (RFP). Since the writing of this piece, RFP won the election in Lesotho achieving 56 seats, and formed a coalition in order to attain the 60 plus one seats to make a majority. 

“I come in eager and hopeful. RFP has not only preached inclusion in the eye of enhancing Lesotho but it walks the talk. I, Sheriff Mothopeng and other constituency candidates are living proof that RFP is for true revolution and inclusion.” Stated Mothopeng in a social conversation as the first open queer person to ever grace Lesotho’s political landscape. 

Sheriff is for holistic representation of the most excluded communities in Lesotho with hope to advance intentional engagements where all Basotho can contribute equally with no privilege at play, in the betterment of this country when RFP is in authority. Social and economical inclusion lack due to privilege and power as marginalized communities are left below the standard way of life and contribution. 

They form part of the increasing numbers of young actively engaged political members in Lesotho. Sheriff speaks highly of womxn, and young girls who constantly stay at exposed risk that has pushed these womxn to the margins of poverty, and exclusion prevails further as there is still lack of essential sexual and reproductive health and rights for them. Spiking numbers of human trafficking is one of the alarming contributors due to exclusion of certain groups of people in Lesotho. 

“I am Sheriff ‘The Activist’ and I step into politics with clear intentions and declaration of who I am and what I am about. RFP gave me an opportunity to canvas my journey and they sure know that I bring not only what they are looking for but also what they need to stay accountable to the public that voted them in power.” Sheriff further shares. 

Sheriff wishes to still advance and advocate for the recognition, inclusion and respect of human rights, especially marginalized populations as they are mostly underserved due to lack of recognition and respect of their rights as humans. 

“For the longest of times, young Basotho have been complaining about leaving governance in the hands of old folks but with little to no intervention on this matter. I stand here today to challenge this narrative and re-write ours. We have to acknowledge leadership as a transitional process with Lesotho at the heart of our minds. Attaining equal access to resources and services should not be a challenge in a country of just over 2 million people.” Sheriff shares with looming emotions. 

Sheriff is an accountability pioneer across Africa and still furthers this work to-date. One of their wish is to keep themselves accountable even when in power. They further shared that when doing their rounds around the constituency, they teach the masses the importance of open relationships and accountability and to not always ululate for things they know are not possible nor responsive to their needs as a community in a rural village. They also share that joining the parliament will not divert the interest on advocacy as they still behold equal access to services, resources, human rights, community empowerment and accountability are close to their heart.  

“You can ululate for many things but never ever ululate a fish for swimming because that is what it is meant to do. If the government pipes up a village or lights up a neighbourhood, it is not something that must be celebrated under political scrutiny because these are basic needs and governments should provide accordingly to those that elected them in power. We have a tendency of thinking certain privileges and luxury are not befitting to us as Basotho whereas we must be given such to elevate our livelihoods,” Sheriff concludes.

Sheriff has had several career developments where they have had several achievements in the spaces of occupying and applying good governance and leadership over and above public policy as certifications. This puts them in a good advantage to lead and influence the next government of Lesotho to engage with mindfulness of leadership and regulating Lesotho to greater heights. 

Lesotho has a new light shining through, darkness and cold nights will be the history in storytelling because RFP comes clear with its intentions to revamp and build Lesotho for future generations with candidates like Sheriff Mothopeng. 

Sheriff Mothopens is available on all social media platforms and their famous advocacy videos titled “The Man in Me” and “I am Sheriff” can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQGw7mnrVso

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