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Eighth African Renaissance Annual Festival Underway

The eighth African Renaissance Annual Festival is underway in Durban, South Africa. The weeklong event began Monday, May 22nd, and has attracted participants from 17 African countries, as well as countries outside Africa, including the United States. Andre Kapila is a spokesperson for the summit and spoke with English to Africa reporter Angel Tabe about the origins and purpose of the event.

He said the “whole idea is to promote the rebirth, reconstruction, and reawakening of people of Africa to take care of their own destiny.”

Initially, he said, the festival began as a way to promote peace and stability and as a way to end the death and destruction caused by political infighting. But it grew beyond its original purpose: “The last three or four years we started to concentrate on the social economic development and the engagement of academia, business, politicians, not only in South Africa, but beyond. Our primary point of reference is the African Union (AU), its agenda, and obviously for the economic side it’s the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).”

Kapila outlined three of the six conference themes. He said one will concentrate on “the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and how it affects the rest of the continent.” The second theme will examine the organizational structure of provincial and city governments throughout Africa. The third addresses how “NGOs and even government organizations swell the coffers in terms of resources and teaching people how to structure business plans…. Then it’s direct implementation of projects where the government identifies the greatest needs….”

Kapila says he hopes intellectuals will participate in the festival “in practical terms to have an open debate in a truly democratic way…for the consumption of the communities.…” He stressed the importance of grass roots participation and said, “Unless people rally around it, it’s just not going to happen.”

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