Search for SA-inspired suit to impress Obama

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Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network programme co-ordinator Pierre Buckley has been selected to join the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in America. Buckley is searching for a suit that represents South Africa in the hopes of meeting U.S. President Barack Obama.
Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network programme co-ordinator Pierre Buckley has been selected to join the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in America. Buckley is searching for a suit that represents South Africa in the hopes of meeting U.S. President Barack Obama.
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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg man is searching for a South African-inspired suit in the hope of meeting U.S. President Barack Obama next month.

Gay and Lesbian Network programme co-ordinator Pierre Buckley flies off to Washington next Thursday after being awarded the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The 28-year-old was selected from 6 000 South African applicants and will join 60 other countrymen, including two others from Pietermaritzburg, on the six-week trip.

The programme is a flagship of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) empowering young people from sub-Saharan Africa through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.

The fellowship provides young leaders with the opportunity to hone their skills at a university in the U.S., supports their professional development after they return home, and provides them the opportunity to network with some of the top non-profit organisations in America.

Buckley said he would be the only South African based at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for five weeks and had been asked by the university to host a lecture on the work the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) does.

The network is a non-profit organisation in Pietermaritzburg that works towards the upliftment and recognition of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI) community.

“I am excited and really honoured to have been selected,” said Buckley.

During his last week in America, he and the other fellows would have the chance to meet Obama. “We have been told that Obama picks out 50 people to interact with based on their outfits and if they are representive of attendees’ countries.

“I have been searching for a Shweshwe blazer and ask that if a designer is willing to loan me an outfit to meet Obama, I will definitely credit them,” he said.

On his return, Buckley would start the Mabadiliko — Pioneers for Positive Change project, focusing on mentorship and community upliftment.

Anyone who can assist Buckley should e-mail health@gaylesbian.org.za or call 083 226 2406.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

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