SA celebrates Senegal’s contribution towards democracy

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pretoria - Brand South Africa will this week commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Dakar 1987 Talks, which played a significant role in the road towards democracy. 

Celebration activities around the twinning of Robben and Gorée Islands will also take place in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), National Arts Council, SA Embassy in Senegal and the Senegalese Ministry of Arts and Culture.

Political dialogue played a massive role in South Africa’s transition to democracy. The 1987 meeting in Dakar between the ANC and an IDASA delegation stands out as a significant moment in the history of South Africa’s journey towards democracy. 

“The Dakar conference would not have been possible were it not for the assistance of countries like Senegal and then President Abdou Diouf, who paved the way for delegates to meet during a period when liberation movements were still banned internally, and the apartheid regime still presided over a pariah state sanctioned and internationally isolated.

“Likewise, the assistance that came from governments and individuals who contributed material resources to make the conference possible further attests to the fact that the liberation movement was not alone in its struggle against apartheid South Africa,” Brand South Africa, Dr Kingsley Makhubela, said on Monday.

Brand South Africa said contemporary developments in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent indicate that political dialogue is not a once-off.

“It remains a crucial feature of societies transitioning towards democracy and transforming an unequal socio-economic environment.

“In global terms, and particularly on the African continent, the success of conflict management and mediation, conflict prevention, resolution as well as intervention, are all linked to the ability and capability of political rivals to engage in constructive political dialogue,” Brand South Africa said.

As part of the week-long activities, Brand South Africa, in partnership with the Dakar-based CODESRIA, will host a colloquium in Senegal on Thursday under the theme, ‘The Power of Dialogue – Past, Present and Future’.

“The colloquium will bring together experts on conflict mediation and resolution from government, civil society and academia, to discuss the role of political dialogue in conflict prevention, mediation, and resolution on the African continent and beyond. The session will also focus on drawing the youth into the dialogue – the goal being not only to impart knowledge but also to provide a platform for them to share their views on the power of dialogue,” Dr Makhubela said.

The colloquium will cover three sessions, where delegates from South African and Senegalese government and other role players will share their experiences and insights with attendees.

During the week, the two countries will also sign a Twinning Agreement between Robben and Goree Islands. –

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