Meet the Queer South African Feminist & Disability Rights Activist Taking Oxford By Storm

25-year-old South African Eddie Ndopu has become the first African with a disability accepted to the University of Oxford.

A 25-year-old black, queer feminist thinker in Johannesburg is making history in a big way. That young South African is Eddie Ndopu, a disability rights activist who recently became the first African with a disability admitted to the University of Oxford.

Or as Ndopu puts it: “[He’s] the guy on wheels who refuses to rest until every single disabled person in the world, until every single beautifully black and brown disabled soul gets a fighting chance at living their best life.”

Raised by a single mother who fled apartheid South Africa to self-imposed exile in Namibia, Ndopu was diagnosed at the age of two with spinal muscular atrophy and given until the age of five to survive.

In the two decades since his prognosis, Ndopu has led an extraordinary life and career. Up until recently he was the Head of Amnesty International's Youth Engagement Work for Africa. Prior to that he was part of the 2008 inaugural class of the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg and a summa cum laude graduate of Carleton University in Canada, where he served as a research analyst at the World Economic Forum. At 20, Ndopu was invited to give a Master’s Tea at Yale. Indeed, Ndopu’s credentials are ridiculously stacked. The magazine Pacific Standard named him one of their Top 30 Thinkers Under 30 this year.

Photo by Siya Mkhasibe.

In 2015, Ndopu applied to Oxford. A few months later he was admitted to the university’s Blavatnik School of Government to study for a Master of Public Policy degree.

“The reason why I chose this institution was because this particular programme is the only programme in the entire world that looks at public policy through a global lens,” Ndopu told The Daily Vox. At Oxford, he plans to set up his own non-profit, the Evolve Initiative, which seeks to close the access gap for people with disabilities. Speaking with Daily Maverick, Ndobu explains that through Evolve, he hopes to become the first African with a disability in space.

But whether or not Ndopu will in fact become the first African with a disability to study at Oxford remains to be seen. While it’s true he was awarded a full scholarship, the scholarship failed to take his disability-related costs into account.

“They [Oxford] assumed that I would able-bodied, so they did not account for the 24-hour care I will need,” Ndopu told Mail & Guardian. “There is no visa category for a caregiver who needs to accompany an international student with a disability because this has never happened at Oxford.”

Ndopu requires over R500,000 to cover the outstanding costs associated with his Oxford admission––including an automated wheelchair along with his personal caregiver’s travel, living and accommodation expenses.

#OxfordEddiecated is a campaign that was recently launched to get Ndopu to Oxford. The campaign’s official video, which we’re excited to co-premiere today, offers a glimpse inside Ndopu’s brilliant mind.

Watch the video below directed by South African filmmaker Nadine Kutu for Live Mag. Keep up with the #OxfordEddiecated campaign on Facebook and Indiegogo.

Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Wekafore Releases Fela Kuti Inspired Collab With Daily Paper

The one-of-a-kind 'The Spirit Don't Die' capsule collection celebrates African heritage and a hope for a brighter future.

Amsterdam-based African streetwear brand Daily Paper has joined Nigerian fashion brand Wekafore in creating a unique capsule collection of note. The 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection is inspired by fashion and Nigerian activism icon Fela Kuti, but celebrates the bountiful beauty, potential, and heritage of Africans.

Nigerian designer Wekaforé Maniu Jibril, owner, and designer of the Wekafore brand has been hot since his 2013 debut. The brand has gone on to become a great success within the realm of West African fashion. Wekaforé represents a newer, more fearless generation of African designers and their latest collaborative collection tells the tale.

Daily Paper x Wekaforé 'The Spirit Don't Die' collectionImage courtesy of Daily Paper

The two popular brands share a rich history and intention to further African fashion's reputation in the world, as well as as a shared desire for raw necessity, organic growth, and authentic community engagement, development and, support. The fashion brands are making it known that street and casual wear are more than we once thought - fashion can be inclusive and fun. The stars truly aligned to bring us this partnership guided by similar core values and the hunger to celebrate Africa and her diasporas through fashion.

The Fela Kuti-inspired collection is filled with distinctive and bold pieces, honoring Africa's past while paving the way towards the future. Wekafore is known for their clear integration of West Africa's 1970's cultural golden age, and this limited collection speaks to those themes, making it a no-brainer to dedicate the line to the legendary King of Afrobeat, whose style never disappointed. It's clear to see how Kuti's influence inspired the exciting and vibrant creative renaissance seen in the collection. On using Kuti as his muse, Wekaforé says, "Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness."

Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Daily Paper x Wekafore 'The Spirit Don't Die' Collection

Check out more of Daily Paper x Wekafore's collection 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection here.

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