|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
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
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.