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Rhodes hosts the Legacies of the Apartheid Wars conference

Date Released: Fri, 5 July 2013 12:59 +0200

“Rhodes is very pleased to host and to be associated with the Legacies of Apartheid Wars Project (LAWS). We consider the project to be imaginative, pioneering and important in helping us as a society and as people to confront certain issues that have been given inadequate attention,” said Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat last night (4 July 2013).

Dr Badat was speaking at the Legacies of Apartheid Wars Project conference dinner. The cross-disciplinary conference theme entitled: Addressing, Archiving and Accounting for Legacies of the Apartheid Wars in Southern Africa.

In relation to the conference theme, Dr Badat said “it is pertinent to note that the town ‘Grahamstown’ is a legacy of earlier wars of colonial conquest and dispossession, which continue to impact on issues of land, livelihoods, settlement, politics and more generally social relations in contemporary South Africa.”

“We can also note that the soldier after whom this town takes its name, Colonel Graham, was infamous for introducing particularly brutal methods of force that considered women and children fair game in warfare. It should not be surprising that the name ‘Grahamstown’ is a matter of controversy and that there have been intermittent attempts to change the name of the town,” he said.

“The region to which I welcome you takes its name from the prophet and warrior Makhanda, who attacked the Grahamstown Military Base in 1819 and was subsequently banished by the British to Robben Island. Makhanda, of course, drowned in 1820 trying to escape from Robben Island,” added Dr Badat.

He further said, “The Legacies of Apartheid Wars Project is the kind of project that we welcome at Rhodes, both for its social and political salience but also because it fits in well with our institutional trajectory of becoming a more postgraduate and research-focused university in the years ahead.”

“We see in LAWS the prospects for interesting and important research and publishing as well as for interesting students to undertake postgraduate education and training on issues related to the concerns of LAWS,” he said.  

The three-day conference is a series of public dialogues in partnership with the annual South African National Arts Festival’s Think!Fest.

Other LAWs Project events include a photographic exhibition, a short conference and a series of talks that will form part of the 2013 National Arts Festival’s programme.

The conference is a combination of academic papers that will be presented today and tomorrow (6 July 2013) and is being co-hosted with the SA War Veterans’ Project funded by the SA/Nederlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD).

The academic conference will explore various topics such as memory and violence, theories relating to the legacies of trauma and violence and researching the apartheid wars.

LAWS Project Welcome Address