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Durban plays key role in reviving African dignity
​Acting eThekwini Mayor Fawzia Peer fl anked by former
President of Ghana John Mahama and advisor Joyce
Mogtari at the Pan-African Conference in Durban on 24
July.
​DURBAN is playing a key role in the restoration of African dignity, challenging old beliefs that the continent had people with no history. Speaking at the opening of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Pan-African Conference, held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on 24 July, themed “Restoring and reviving African dignity for the Africa we want, through advancing the history of African ideas”, Acting eThekwini Mayor Fawzia Peer said Durban was an African city with many cultures, traditions and indigenous communities. “The City fully concurs with the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems, that as Durban, we are also committed in recognising the value in preserving indigenous cultures, languages, and people,” said Acting Mayor Peer.

The conference, organised by UKZN, brought together dozens of experts on indigenous knowledge
systems, historians, academics, former heads of states and ministers. Dialogue sessions were held with young panellists on finding ways to advance indigenous knowledge systems and challenge Eurocentric versions of history and knowledge. “A wealth of knowledge is steadily streaming in
from the studies of Africa, which disproves long held Eurocentric views, that Africans are people
without a history.

The impression given by some Western scholars that the African continent made no contributions to civilisation and that its people are naturally primitive, unfortunately, became the basis of racial prejudice, mental slavery, colonialism and the ongoing economic oppression of Africa,” said Acting Mayor Peer. Durban is playing a key role in advancing the cause with the Indigenous Knowledge
Systems Centre of Excellence based at UKZN.

The centre, headed by Professor Hasan Okaya, aims to develop the repository of knowledge on indigenous systems. Former president of Ghana John Mahama gave a keynote address at the opening, stating that much work has to be done to challenge views that Africa was a lost continent. “Africa is the cradle of humankind. We have a history that we can be proud of. Yes, we must admit our shortcomings but we must learn and grow,” he said.

Mahama said Africa took a lead out of Japan, which is a country at the cutting edge of technology, yet able to maintain its cultures and traditions. “Let’s do what our people did, where we cared for one another and had a strong value system.”
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