Celebrating Twenty Years Of The African Renaissance Festival
The 20th edition of the African Renaissance Festival will be hosted at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International
Convention Centre (Durban ICC) from the 24 to 26 May 2018. The annual event has been described as an exciting and worthwhile opportunity to exchange ideas, views and programmes on the pertinent issues affecting KwaZulu-Natalâ€™s, South Africaâ€™s and Africaâ€™s development and progress.
The African Renaissance Festival is held in May each year as part of the Africa Day celebrations, which
are held on 25 May. The Festival comprises a conference held over two days, a banquet, VIP cocktail
event and a concert.
The first event in 1999, utilised the theme: â€œBeyond Conflictâ€. Beyond Conflict was further developed in the year 2000, when it was contextualised within the dawn of the new Millennium namely â€œBeyond Conflict in the New Millenniumâ€.
In 2001, the two crucial issues of poverty, and underdevelopment, were raised by then President Thabo Mbeki as critical to the affirmation of the African Renaissance if properly addressed by citizens and effective states. He said, â€œMore generally, we have to consider expenditure on human resource development not as a cost that we must minimise, but as a critical investment that must be made. Accordingly, we must give pride of place to issues of expenditure on health and education as a necessary condition for success in everything we have to do.â€
In 2002, the theme, â€œIbuya-Our Time Has Comeâ€, (turning to each other and not on each other) was adopted to mark South Africaâ€™s return to the fold of world nations.
The 2003 Festival was held under the theme, â€œNepad: Quest for an African Renaissanceâ€.
In 2004, President Mbeki returned as keynote speaker and focused on Haiti. He said that the victory of African slaves over French rule in the 1800s should be used by Africans to inspire them to successfully address the challenges facing them across the world.
The year 2005 marked the 50th celebration of the Freedom Charter, and the theme â€œReflecting on the Human Right Triumphâ€ was adopted.
In 2006, under the theme â€œAfrican Renaissance and African Intellectualityâ€, the time had come for this forum to identify the role that intellectuals in Africa can play in the development, and advancement, of African scholarships.
In 2007, the theme â€œPeace and Security through Partnershipsâ€ was adopted, as peace is a pre-requisite for
democracy and development.
Peace and security were further explored in 2008 with â€œUniting the African Diasporaâ€ being the theme, and â€œUniting the African Worldâ€ being the theme for 2009.
In 2010, the focus was on the FIFA World Cup with the theme â€œTake charge Africa â€“ the future is in your handsâ€.
In 2011, the theme was â€œConnecting Africaâ€. Then SA Minister of Transport, and founder of the Festival Mr Sbu Ndebele said, â€œBy talking the language of African connectivity and development, this African Renaissance forum has entered the centre stage of the global discourse of the 21st century. We are one with the world in promoting inter- modal transport systems, transport corridor development, transport investments through partnerships, paying attention to sustainable development imperatives, and promoting transport infrastructure development for social and economic growth and development.â€
The African Renaissance Conference 2012 offered further opportunities for ideas advocating a coordinated
approach to knowledge generation and leadership development.
In 2013, while continuing with the theme of Connecting Africa, human development was addressed.
The need for empowerment was stressed by then Deputy President Mr Kgalema Motlanthe who stated that there is a need to develop an African way and break with the view that we must take from the rest of the world how things need to work. â€œThe ultimate goal is to create a fair world where Africa has a place as an equal.â€
The theme for 2014, Africa in Motion, captured the relentless, forward momentum of the African continent.
Entrepreneurs of Africa was the theme for 2015 and remained the same for 2016 and 2017. Entrepreneurship is one of the key driving forces in economic development, and the conferences aimed to encourage and enable the youth to be the main creators of opportunities and wealth in the future.
In 2015, speaking of the theme, the Minister in the Presidency, Jeffrey Radebe, said that policies should be frontloaded to benefit the African youth in preparation for Africaâ€™s bright future.
Through a joint cooperation between the Office of the Premier, KZN Department of Education, eThekwini Municipality, African Renaissance and the Diplomatic Corps in KwaZulu-Natal, the opportunities arising from international scholarships available to KwaZulu-Natal students and scholars were also presented at each of these conferences (2015-2017).
The focus for 2018, the 20th African Renaissance Festival, is Inclusive Social Economic Transformation
which will build on many of the previous yearsâ€™ themes of empowerment. The second day of the conference will again have an emphasis on the youth and international study opportunities will be presented.
The year 2018 also marks the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, with a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation for people to make a difference and help build the legacy Mandela would be proud of. This is a
sentiment, which is very much part of the Festivalâ€™s ethos.
As said then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in his 2017, African Renaissance key note speech, â€œThis gathering should be about affirming our individual and collective self-worth as a people. It should be about
raising our consciousness to the endless possibility that the idea and experience of being African carries. It should be about us taking advantage of the vast, golden opportunities available in the programme of rebuilding Africa. A more humane and just world cannot blossom without an African renaissance, without
embracing African values and without a proper appreciation of African aspirations.â€