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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

A DECADE OF FREEDOM (article first published : 2004-10-9)

As part of the national celebrations to mark the decade of freedom, the Documentation Centre and the Campbell Collections of the University of KwaZulu-Natal will jointly host a conference of the International Anti-Apartheid Movement over four days at the ICC in Durban from October 10-13.

The conference, which is expected to be opened by Mr. Nelson Mandela, will seek to bring together for the first time activists who have been involved in the anti-apartheid struggle from countries such as the UK, USA, India, Australia, Japan, Germany, France, New Zealand, the Nordic countries and the African continent-to South Africa.

The conference is made possible by generous sponsors Engen Petroleum. It will take place around a myriad of related activities in the city such as exhibitions from different countries, film launches and book launches. Invitees to the conference will include members of the international anti-apartheid movement, stalwarts of South Africa’s liberation struggle, members of the international music and entertainment industry, members of the South African government, representatives of foreign governments and academics.

By focusing on the role of this international movement and its contributions to South Africa’s new democracy, this conference will allow participants to reflect on this country’s achievements during the first decade of freedom and to discuss mutual cooperation during the second decade of freedom as well as the challenges that face this country.

The thinking is that the victory of 1994 belongs not just to South Africans but to the thousands of international activists and the organizations they led in solidarity with the oppressed of this country. That there has been a tendency in recent years to minimize or underestimate the central role played by these peoples of the world in the struggle against apartheid, is undeniable. This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed. More importantly, this conference will seek to facilitate political dialogue between the state and civil society (represented by the international solidarity network) with the ultimate aim of contributing to the political and social transformation of South Africa

The conference will also provide an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of the International Solidarity Movement to the struggle for human rights globally. More often than not, the AAM was linked was linked to the struggle for human rights within those countries or elsewhere. While South Africans celebrate the decade of freedom and hold the Bill of Rights as an example of tolerance, human decency and mutual respect in a nation marked by racial, religious and cultural diversity, they rarely stop to reflect on what happened to the struggle for human rights elsewhere that were linked to the campaign against apartheid. An evaluation of the work of the international solidarity movement in the struggle for human rights in other countries other than South Africa will assist in taking stock of what happened to those struggles for these rights.

The overall objectives of the conference can be summarized into two themes: firstly to celebrate the historic link between international solidarity and National Liberation, and secondly to link past experiences of Liberation with the creation of a world social movement to deal with current challenges.

For delegates wishing to register, registration is now open on http://www.ukzn.ac.za/aam2004

Further information from Narissa Ramdhani : Director Documentation Centre, UKZN (Westville Campus) on 031 26 07351 or 082 803 4870, or R Savic from Interaction Conferencing on 031 260 1584 or e-mail: savic@nu.ac.za.




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