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Meet Boipelo Bonokwane: A Q&A with the New Africa Program Manager

Why did you want to work for Thousand Currents? What made you apply to the organization?

Thousand Currents’ focus on economic justice, food sovereignty and climate justice means that it works at the heart of the socio economic crises that we are facing. After years implementing and organising around movement support and popular education in the region, I’ve gained a continental and international scope of the different social movements and platforms that communities advance their struggles in. It is clear, 3 years into the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing regional and international conflicts, that we exist in increasingly unstable and precarious geopolitical conditions which affect indigenous peoples and women the most adversely. 

I believe that being in Thousand Currents places me in a privileged and unique position to support the work of social movements locally, sub-regionally and regionally. I want to be better positioned to use my skills and experience in the service of working class and peasant communities, and to understand the kind of partnerships that are necessary to empower communities to shape and establish their own alternatives to the current destructive dominant development model.

What will be your new role at Thousand Currents?

I am the Programme Manager, Africa and I will work closely with the Africa Regional Director. Some of the core responsibilities in this role will be:

  • Managing knowledge collection and research on food sovereignty, economic justice, and climate justice work in Africa for partnership development and grantmaking.
  • Working with partners and the Grants Manager to conduct the grantmaking in the region.
  • Contributing to the reviewing and learning processes between Thousand Currents and its Africa partners

What gifts do you hope to share in your new role?

I have an exceptional ability for discourse analysis and I’m very much oriented towards the needs, priorities and interests of working class people, working and peasant women in particular. I am driven by a sincere desire to understand the conditions that people struggle within, and organize against, and the realities of the existing possibilities for alternative ways of being. 

My hope is that I will use my skills to advance these possibilities in order to shift narratives around social movements and to contribute to the transformation of the existing model of philanthropic practices, where we can respect indigenous knowledge systems and practices, as well as learn from the experiences of social movements, allowing them the sovereignty to shape their communities into economically just and ecologically sustainable societies, on their own terms.

What is your vision or hope for the communities you work with and the work you’re doing?

I want to see the communities that we work with possess the necessary resources to shape and drive their own road to emancipation. For them to be in a position in which they are able to use the tools that they possess to build alternatives that will unravel the unjust systems which threaten their livelihoods. Where they have the support to advance their alternatives, not only in the sense of analyses, but in terms of the changes that they can manifest in their own collectives, creating spaces of undoing the violence of racist and patriarchal colonialism, dispossession and extractivism. 

What do you do when you are not working at Thousand Currents?

I am big on family, reading and community work. I spend my time with my son and extended family. I love cooking and arts and crafts. I also participate in a weekly feminist reading group with local high school girls and attend movement activities. 

  • Boipelo with her son OB
  • Boipelo at labour union strike in South Africa
  • Boipelo attending SP political education class in Zambia
  • Boipelo in front of the prison where Kwame Nkrumah was held in Accra, Ghana
  • With comrades from South and Africa and Zimbabwe in São Paulo
  • With the WoMin team in South Africa