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African Renaissance Conference 2017

                                                  

Mr Thembinkosi Willies Mchunu The Honourable Premier of KwaZulu-Natal.

As the provincial government we want to express our appreciation on behalf of the more than 11,1 million people who reside in this province. We are all excited that you are here to discuss possible solutions to challenges facing the people around the globe but more especially the people of the continent of Africa. 

We are meeting at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, named after the first African Recipient of Nobel Peace Prize. We have used this venue over the past 19 years to host the African Renaissance Festival. This festival has been used to connect with our brothers and sisters in the continent and the Diaspora. 

The festival takes place a few weeks after this province hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa – hosting it on behalf of South Africa and the continent. Importantly, we have just hosted Tourism Indaba with the President of the Republic His Excellency J.G Zuma announcing that Durban will host this global tourism marketing platform over the next five years. 

Our message as the KZN government is that Tourism Indaba, the World Economic Forum on Africa and the African Renaissance Festival should be used as instruments to unite brothers and sisters in the continent and the Diaspora. It needs to be remembered that the origins of our contemporary liberation struggle is closely associated with the inspiration from many other struggles, among which were the struggles of the descendants of the slaves that had been forcibly removed from our soil who continued the fight over generations in the North and South America and other parts of the Western world for the return to their country of origin — Africa. 

There is a direct link between the African intellectuals who studied abroad and some of the leading luminaries and proponents of the Pan Africanist thinking in America, such as Marcus Garvey, DEB Du Bois and Booker T Washington. Many of these leaders of the African American people had many discussions with some of the pioneers of the liberation struggle in the continent, such as Dr J.L. Dube, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Haile Selassie and others who rose to lead their countries out of colonialism. 

The African Renaissance is about reawakening the spirit of brotherhood and strengthening the solidarity amongst African people and to remind us that our fate is bound together. It is an opportunity to recharge and define our next steps in the fight for the dignity of the African irrespective of which part of the globe they may be. It is an opportunity to remind us of the struggle that lies ahead of us and the challenges that we have to overcome before we can attain full equality for all. It is an opportunity to look at the strengths that we must utilise to advance ourselves and the weaknesses that we must correct to advance the African child.

 It is important to remind one another that our struggle is not over. Despite the political freedom that we have attained, including the right to vote and participate in all institutions of governance in the land, the African people as a group still suffer extreme poverty and don’t have access to economic opportunities. 

This is so despite the African continent remaining amongst the richest in natural resources such as oil and precious minerals: gold, diamond, platinum, copper, iron ore etc. Most of the resources remain untapped or are exploited by richer nations in the east and west. The upliftment of the continent and African people in general lies in their solidarity and in the numbers that they constitute. Stronger lines of communication must be maintained with Africans in the Diaspora as we continue to be inspired by our common history and heritage. Once again, we are privileged to host the 19th African Renaissance Festival.