TALONS DL Assignment #1 (English)

Eminent Speeches

Eminent is a project that occurs between the months of October and December. It involves selecting and researching a person, past or present, that has/had made a difference in a particular area/field of work. Then, to demonstrate your understanding and writing/presenting skills, you write/present a speech that resides within 4-5 minutes.

My chosen eminent person was Simon (Tseko) Nkoli

 

Although my speech was presented, I cannot get the video, so here is the written version:

October 13th, 1990,

Some 800 people flood the streets, their vibrance parting the pavement—much like a thawed brook, steadily depressing the earth as it makes its way downstream. As I stretch over the crowd, I feel myself expand, filling every splintered and beaten heart beneath me. I know they’re hurting; I know they need me.

I am love. I am here, yet I am there. Here, intertwined within the parade of people marching for a future that generations to come will learn to take for granted. There, amongst the clouds of marshmallow fantasies and evening strolls, where the sun has just kissed the mountain tops goodnight, gifting the skies with deep salmon reds and citrus lemon yellows.

At the front of the crowd, walks a man. Slim in figure, skin the color of rich chocolate, and a face betraying fragments of his past, he holds himself proudly. This man is you, Simon. Simon Tseko Nkoli.

We met nearly six years ago—although I’m sure you’ve forgotten by now. I was dwelling in the cells of the Pretoria Central Prison the day you arrived. From that moment I knew you were special.

You see, as love, it is my duty to fill the hearts of those who walk this earth. The larger and more benevolent the heart, the more space I pervade, the more love one procures. And, Simon, there was never a moment I doubted the paramount capacity your heart possessed.

For the next three years you sat alone in your cage; a beautiful swan; a tragic pitch of blackness, stark against the banks of ignorant and blissful white birds. Your gaze was one that could only be described as a blustery midsummer’s night storm, exuding the power of an untamed tiger.

On the 23rd of April, you write the first of many, tear-streaked and finger marked letters to Roy, your lover—ones that are eventually tucked and tightly sealed into the remnants of faded coffee envelopes. Your first letter reads mournfully, bestrewn with broken English, using words like, ‘’Roy, because of thinking of you everytime, I’ll try to face life – though sometime I think otherwise”.

May 23rd, 1985

Your letter today reads, “[Y]ou know I sometime think what is GASA saying about me. Do you think they are going to expel me from the association? And what is Saturday Group doing? Probably died …” I crumple at your words. The GASA is a predominantly white gay group that don’t understand your struggles of intersectionality. And, I’m saddened that you longer believe in the Saturday group—a group you founded after the GASA refused to expand their efforts into black communities—including your own. Through the Saturday group, you melted the hearts of those who were forced to harden after the world denied them of the acceptance they deserved.

January 5th, 1986

In your letter this afternoon, you write of the tears you exhibited after reading Danielle Steel’s “To Love Again”. You talk about how some suffer because of love—because of me, but how they also learn to be brave. Thanks to you, Simon, I know now that heartache and love are two sides of the same coin.

October 13th, 1990,

One thousand, two hundred, and one days since your release from prison. Today, you and GLOW—the first non-racial gay group in South Africa, held the first pride parade the African continent has ever seen. It was wondrously planned and flawlessly executed with not only skill, but compassion. The last-minute call to bring paper bags for participants who wished to stay anonymous proved to be a relief to those who couldn’t risk the unveiling of their identity. Yet, by the end of the march, many threw their brown paper masks to the ground, feeling me ingulf their entire being, diminishing all shame they held in their satiated hearts.

May 8th, 1996,

Three thousand, two hundred, and thirty-five days since your release from prison. South Africa is now the first nation in the world to include sexual orientation protection in its constitution. Simon, without your dedication and strength, this country you call home might never have gotten to see today unfold.

September 12th, 1998,

It’s been nearly two weeks since you died. Today, heartache and I stand side by side. Today, over a thousand people attend your funeral. You only lived to 41.

Because of you, multiple pride parades are held in South Africa every year. All those colors and smiles—a result you set in motion.

I am love; I have loved you every moment of every day, and now I say goodbye. Now, I say thank you.

 

 

Some of the digital criteria I used during this project include:

 

  • “I respond[ed] to the work or ideas of my peers in a way that [was] compassionate and productive” (no. 3)

During the drafting stages of my peers’ and I’s speeches, we helped each other edit and refine our written work, as well as provided an audience for presentation practice. feedback was critical, and comments also included praise for particular things that were done exceptionally well. On the day(s) of the presentations, the room was filled with an ambience of support and pride. Although it was an ‘individual’ project, our class did it together.

 

  • “I critically assess[ed] research sources for currency, reliability, authority, and purpose” (no. 9).

While gathering information about my chosen person of eminence, I went through dozens of sources to ensure that my research was as reliable, current, and useful as possible.

 

  • “My work demonstrates a positive, productive, and empathetic worldview” (no. 15)

I chose Simon Nkoli for a number of reasons, but the most prominent one is because of the way he changed how people view the LGBTQ+ community in South Africa. To give some context, South Africa is the only country in Africa that has marriage equality. And, without Simon, that number could have been zero. So, in a way, I wrote my speech as a form of awareness, even if only a few people would hear it.

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