BPD Update Online, Winter 2004
Into Africa: Highlights of BPD's 2nd International Conference (cont)
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by David V. Henton

Texas State University, San Marcos

With our colleagues Huggenot College,
University of Capetown, University of Stellenbosch, and His Worship, the Mayor


From Johannesburg we flew to Maputo, Mozambique for the main conference, the theme of which was 21st Century Initiatives in Public Policy and Management: Resolving Conflicts for Human Empowerment and Sustainable Development. The conference brought together over three hundred academics, development officials and policymakers from throughout Africa and beyond. Conference proceedings were held at the new Joaquim Chissano International Conference Center of the Higher Institute of International Relations, which earlier in the month had hosted the African Union and the leaders of the 53 nations of the continent. It was at that AU conference that Mozambiquan President Joaquim Chissano was elected second President of the African Union. replacing South African President Thabo Mbeki.

On Monday, July 21st, President Chissano welcomed us personally to the Republic of Mozambique and presided over the first plenary session of the Conference devoted to the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Union. Monday's luncheon was hosted by U.S. Ambassador Sharon Wilkinson, a Clinton appointee who was retiring and returning to the United States later that same day. The following day, Esther had the honor of introducing the second plenary speaker, the inspirational Dr. Graca Machel, former First Lady of Mozambique, Chancellor of the University of Capetown, President of the Development Community Foundation, and current spouse of Nelson Mandela. Dr. Machel presented a brief history of conflict in post-colonial Africa, an overview of current efforts at conflict management and peace initiatives, and a summary of the need to simultaneously combat: 1) conflict, 2) HIV/AIDS, and 3) poverty.

Mozambique was in many ways an ideal setting for a conference devoted both to development and conflict resolution. Following independence from Portugal, it experienced one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars, now known by Mozambiquans as "The War of the Sixteen Years". The war between the governing, Soviet-backed FRELIMO and the American-backed RENAMO rebel movement left an already-impoverished nation in chaos and destitution. Today, after ten years of peace and with one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Mozambique is only now achieving the level of development it had prior to the fratricide of its civil war.

After Dr. Machel's plenary, Marcia, Marquessa, Dorothy and Dave all presented papers at a Conference session on education, culture, gender and development. We were warmly and attentively received despite the fact that most of our presentations were slightly off-topic for the main theme of the conference. Tuesday evening, conference participants were guests of the Rector of the Institute and of the Prime Minister of the Republic at an elegant and delicious gala dinner featuring Mozambiquan food.

Our last day in Mozambique, while Esther dutifully participated in conference activities, the rest of the BPD contingent crossed back into South Africa by bus and spent the day touring the spectacular Kruger National Park. There we saw four of the 'Big Five' (elephants, lions, rhinos and buffalo), as well as giraffes, zebras, hippos, and all manner of antelope. Crossing back into Mozambique after dusk and as the border was closing for the night, we 'tipped' the Mozambiquan authorities for the transit visa to return to Maputo.

Back to Zuzuland

Conference Participants

From Mozambique, we returned to South Africa and the lovely tropical city of Durban on South Africa's Hibiscus Coast of the Indian Ocean. Upon clearing customs in the Durban airport, we were welcomed by singing dancers from the Mighty Zulu Nation Theatre Company, a surprise greeting orchestrated and sponsored by Esther's friend, Charlotte Fuller, an American expatriate social worker living in Durban. After a tour of the city, we checked in to our hotel facing the beautiful beach and adjacent parkland of Durban's North Coast.

The following day we journeyed through rural KwaZulu-Natal to the University of Zululand about 190 kilometers from Durban. There we met with friends and colleagues of Marquessa's from her sabbatical at the University several years ago. A nursing professor and friend of Marquessa's graciously invited us to his traditional Zulu compound which he had built himself. Later in the day, we toured the Zululand Mental Health Association, and met with staff, including a former student of Marquessa's who is now employed by the agency.

Our final day in Durban allowed us a free day to shop and enjoy this exotic and colorful city. Among the activities undertaken by the BPDers were: shopping in the Victoria market, relaxing by the pool, shopping at the Workshop, walking on the beach, shopping at the African Arts Centre, visiting the casino, and shopping in the stalls across the street from the hotel. There were some serious shoppers among the BPD travelers! Our final evening in South Africa, Charlotte entertained us and several dozen of her friends and acquaintances at her beautiful home above the ocean outside of Durban. There we enjoyed a spectacular African feast, animated conversations with an eclectic and fascinating assortment of folks, and delightful impromptu entertainment, including singing, dancing, poetry-reading, and dramatic interpretation.

The following morning, we enjoyed some last minute shopping at the Sunday flea market across the street from our hotel, and then headed to the airport for our return trip to the U.S. via Johannesburg. On behalf of the participants in BPD's 2nd International Conference, we want to thank the BPD International Committee, and especially Dr. Esther Jones Langston for her hard work, organization and leadership in making this conference and tour possible. We also wish to thank our African colleagues for their warm hospitality and generosity in hosting us and in sharing their lives and livelihoods with us during our visit.

An article on Sweden is on the next page...

Spiral, Horizontal Line Spinning

BPD Update Online, Volume 26, No. 1, Winter 2004

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