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Land Issues to Form Main Agenda at Seminar Making the 36th Anniversary Steve Biko’s Death

Land Issues to Form Main Agenda at Seminar Making the 36th Anniversary Steve Biko’s Death


Media Statement by Alan Khan, Senior Director: Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology

Durban will honour and remember the late freedom fighter and struggle icon Stephen Bantu Biko next week, with the Durban University of Technology and Umtapo Centre set to host a seminar titled Biko and The Land Issue: A Centenary Commemoration Seminar of the 1913 Land Act.

The seminar, marking the 36th Anniversary of the death of the father of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) will be held on Friday next week (September 20, 2013) at the DUT Hotel School Conference Centre, corner of Winterton Walk and Ritson Road.

Umtapo Centre is a non-profit development organisation whose mission is to engage in education, training, community mobilisation, and networking in order to empower people, particularly the youth, to take control of their own lives in the struggle for sustainable development, peace and human rights.

Discussing the topic will be a panel consisting of notable presenters, namely Essy Letsoalo; author of several books on Land Reform in South Africa, Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza; AC Jordan Chair in African Studies at the University of Cape Town, Susan Nkomo; Leader of the UNISA research project: South African Women in 2015: Towards 20 years of freedom and Pandelani Nefolovhodwe; Chairperson of the Isibaya Development Trust and a former member of national parliament as well as the Pan African Parliament.

Umtapo board member and former University of Fort Hare Vice-Chancellor Professor Mbulelo Mzamane said June 19, 2013 marked 100 years of the promulgation of the South African Native Land Act, a statute that decreed that only certain areas of the country could be owned by black people. He said 2013 is also the golden jubilee of the creation of the Organisation of African Unity which was formed in 1963, principally to accomplish the decolonisation of Africa.

“Land dispossession in South Africa goes back to the earliest European settlements. Some would argue the process has always been with us. These are issues that will not simply go away as long the rightful owners of the Land continue to be a dispossessed class. In all liberation struggles, land reclamation and restitution occupied a central place. In settler colonies like Kenya, Algeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique, the land issue became the central cause of the anti-colonial liberation struggles. Independence did not resolve the long-standing land and agrarian questions, as self-serving leaders became sight-tracked by the trappings of political office,” said Prof Mzamane

He said the land question mirrors the incomplete decolonisation processes in former-settler colonies, adding that it continues to feature prominently in continuing African struggles.

“The centennial (of the of the 1913 Land Act) offers us an opportunity to reflect on land and other issues pertaining to agrarian questions haunting our continent, especially in former settler colonies. The land question is not only about land. It invokes and speaks to various issues of poverty, property ownership, citizenship, culture, gender, belonging, power, self-determination, legitimacy, sovereignty, identity, dignity, nationalism, development, markets, territory, jurisdiction and authority. Debates and struggles over land also embrace various aspects of subjugation, subjectivity, and exploitation as well as aspects of liberation, freedom and empowerment. Reflection on land in Africa includes thinking about the past, present and the future. Debates on land issues inevitably touch on power, wealth, being and meaning. In contemporary African society, the question of who can acquire land, hold land and transact land continues to speak also to post-colonial issues of citizenship, belonging, political status, political identity and subjectivity within a broader terrain of narrowing nationalisms,” he said.

Prof Mzamane added that women, who continue to be the core producers of food in Africa, are the most affected by unresolved land issues. Addressing the “woman issue” alongside the land issue would be a meaningful solution, he said.

“This roundtable dialogue articulates well with the African Union’s reflections on the past 50 years of independence and its invitation for African societies to think about the continent’s agenda for the 21st century. It articulates just as well with the centennial reflections since the passage of the Land Act and South Africa’s quest for a resolution to the land question,” he said.

Details of the event are as follows:

Date: Friday 20, September 2013

Time: 09h00 to 15h00

Venue: DUT Hotel School Conference Centre, corner of Winterton Walk and Ritson Road (GPS coordinates 29°51’05″S 31°0’26″E)

RSVP, by Wednesday September 18, 2013, is essential.

Issued by:

Sinegugu Ndlovu
DUT Communications
Botanic Mansion
Division of Corporate Affairs
Steve Biko Campus
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