It’s been just over three years since Nelson Mandela’s death, and South Africa will soon welcome a new historic figure calling for unity: Rachel Dolezal.
The controversial former NAACP leader, who was outed as white in 2015 but who says she “identifies” as black, is headed to Africa to speak in favor of a non-racial society.
“Race is a lie,” Dolezal recently told the BBC. “How can I be accused of lying about a lie?”
Dolezal, who recently changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, will speak on April 19 at the first inaugural meeting of a group called the Quest for Non Racial South African Society Dialogue.
The announcement was met with widespread criticism on social media and in the South African press.
“We don’t need to be trolled like this,” wrote the engagement editor of HuffPost South Africa, Shandukani Mulaudzi. She added that Dolezal not only “bring[s] forth dangerous concepts on race, [but] she also propagates the denial of transgender identities and experiences.”
On Twitter, one user summed up the general reaction nicely: “When you think things can’t possibly get any worse in South Africa, Rachel Dolezal happens.” Elle South Africa said that in general, “South African twitter is so not okay with it.”
Despite the backlash, the event’s organizers defended their choice of Dolezal, telling the BBC she was “evidence of the myth of race.”
Dolezal’s South Africa debut comes less than a month after the publication of Dolezal’s auto-biography, which included a chapter called “Escaping to Africa (in My Head).”