People have been asking who I am so I thought I should use a platform of mine to introduce myself.
I am often asked on social media, “Who are you?”, “Why are you verified” and other similar questions. I thought that it would be a good idea to give you some background information about me and who I am.
First of all, I am Luke Waltham. I am a Law Student in South Africa, and I take part in discussions, activities, events and movements to do with political, human rights and social justice issues. I’m a bisexual writer, blogger and mental health activist.
I was involved in political activities in South Africa at the age of 16, in 2014, when I joined the Democratic Alliance and was eventually elected the Democratic Alliance Youth Leader of West Durban. I remained youth leader for one term and I decided to leave the party in 2016 as I wanted to pursue new political, humanitarian pursuits where I can continue growing and developing as a leader and an activist. I came to find that I had a number of ideological disputes with my former party and preferred to remain apartisan.
In 2016, I was involved in a number of social justice discussions, and I was very involved in spreading awareness about the concerning rise of the alt right in the West and the ongoing oppression of people of colour, women, queer bodies and Muslims. It was there where I tried to speak out, as much as possible, on platforms about the dangerous rise of right-wing activism and the continued marginalisation of people who were not white, heterosexual or male.
In 2017, I spent time writing about social injustices and political problems that have been taking place in South Africa, the USA, the UK and other countries, that have been undergoing very difficult times. I wrote blog pieces, reflective pieces and opinion pieces for the Huffington Post South Africa, Bisexual.Org and the Daily Vox. I also write in my own personal capacity on spaces like Medium which is important for a writer, like myself, as I can express myself unapologetically.
2017 was a difficult time for me and unfortunately, ignited an anxiety disorder for me. I was involved in Women Empowerment initiatives where we launched events such as the Slut Walk, which aimed to raise awareness about rape culture and gender inequality, and we also took part in the #MenAreTrash movement which was about being critically and radically loud about gender-based violence and the lack of accountability that men have towards themselves and their counterparts. Sadly, we faced massive criticism and bullying to the point where hate mail was sent to individuals like myself.
In 2018, I focused primarily on humanitarian work in my local area, being Stellenbosch University. I was appointed Human Rights Coordinator of the United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA). It was here where I was able to learn and grow from many situations and unite with others to achieve more. We hosted the Human Rights Youth Conference, a mental health campaign and Queer Night which sought to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ rights and equality. I also had the opportunity to facilitate discussions on Queer Rights and be involved in human rights matters.
By the end of 2018, I was elected the Chairperson of UNASA and set out goals to fulfil goals of the United Nations whilst applying a human rights approach to everything that I did. During exams in November 2018, we organised a collection campaign after horrific fires destroyed many homes in Khayelitsha. In 2019, we did a collection campaign for the Cyclone Idai relief after many homes, communities and families were destroyed by the horrific cyclone.
Overall, 2019, has been a riveting and busy one too. At the start of the year, we had to deal with an issue on campus to do with shuttle fees whereby the university decided to impose a fee for students to get access to campus by shuttle. We immediately responded as political and humanitarian organisations and ended up having a campus protest to convince (university) management that their decision was inhumane, degrading and unfair.
Since that moment, a group of individuals with the same idea of upholding human dignity on campus formed the People’s Movement, an ideology that focuses on a collective responsibility to fight for students’ human rights. The People’s Movement has made strides in lobbying with the university to provide accommodation and food security for students. So far, it has been successful, but there is definitely more that needs to be done.
At the same time, I have also been involved in the university SRC’s Mental Health Task Team. The team aims to raise awareness about mental health through fundraisers and promoting programmes, whilst also working towards implementing a policy that will make students lives easier especially with preventing mental health issues or providing reasonable accommodation for students who do have mental health issues. I am proud to be working on a policy draft that will aim to make a difference and will truly uphold the dignity and well-being of students on this campus.
I identify with political beliefs on the left that prioritises equality and justice for all. I strongly believe that pan-Africanism and ideologies that support the emancipation and empowerment of black people need to discussed and implemented. I support and I’m in solidarity with students who want to achieve free, decolonized education and I believe that intersectional feminism is important. Those who deny the lived experiences of others are actively and violent suppressing marginalised groups.
I use my social media platforms, written pieces and leadership positions to spread awareness about issues taking place in society. The pieces I have written on behalf of news corporations or organisations, are important conversation starters to have, especially in achieving true equality and empowerment. I’m also proud to be fanboy, and it’s incredible groups such as BTS that remind me of the important of loving myself and spreading messages of upliftment and acceptance in a society that is extremely divided.
BTS and its fan base, ARMY, have become such a supportive, loving and beautiful online, and offline family for me. No matter what initiative I speak about or matter I raise, we seem to connect together, from all different backgrounds and speak about issues. At the end of the day, we are united by our love for BTS and the message they are conveying around the world: that we should know ourselves in order to love ourselves which results in us being able to speak ourselves.
You can contact me on my social media, namely Twitter (@lukewaltham), Instagram (@lukewaltham) and Snapchat (lukewaltz13)