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Looking back at eThekwini PRC Social Cohesion seminar among Indians and Africans

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture (PRC) recently hosted an engaging seminar on the long standing Africans and Indians racism narrative.

The seminar took place last week on Thursday night and formed part of the eThekwini Municipality’s annual PRC Week – a two week long programme hosted by the PRC department.

PRC Week does not only raise awareness about the number of portfolios under the PRC department, but it is also a string of various events meant to engage the public and work towards creating a united City. The Africans and Indians seminar forms part of these different events. The seminar commemorated 70 years since tension broke out between Africans and Indians in numerous parts of South Africa and more especially so in Durban.

In light of the apparent racially charged incidents between Africans and Indians, the PRC department found it necessary to create a platform that would engage both racial groups on the topic of racism, and to also help work towards social cohesion between the two.

In his opening remarks, Head of the PRC department, Thembinkosi Ngcobo emphasised the importance of events such as the seminar in not only creating social-cohesion but in the preservation of different cultural heritages as well.

Thabile Buthelezi, a PhD candidate in public administration at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), who was a speaker at the event, reinforced Ngcobo’s points on the importance of social cohesion and spoke at length about how all aspects of our respective cultures must be preserved, regardless of race and ethnicity.

The seminar had a good attendance turnout from members of the general public and was graced by esteemed guests who hold influential positions at different levels. Amongst them were Professor Ashwin Desai, SABC political editor Dumisani Hlophe, director of the Democracy Development Program (DDP) DR Rama Naidu, as well as socio-political commentator Lukhona Mnguni.

Professor Desai, Dr Naidu and Mnguni were not only guests but included in the five member panel that headed up the burning discussion on whether Africans and Indians are indeed racist. Dr Devi Rajab and Xolani Dube made up the rest of the discussion panel with their heated arguments that got the audience thinking more critically. Even thought there were opposing viewpoints and ideas, each member of the panel sought to provide solutions on how to combat racial tensions and create socially cohesive communities.

Some of the proposed solutions from the panel included ‘creating equal economic opportunities for both races, re-addressing inequalities created by the apartheid regime, as well as looking at how the distribution of resources has affected relations among the two groups in question’.

Members of the public, under the facilitation of Gagasi FM radio presenter Alex Mthiyane, engaged with the panel by offering counter narratives and arguments to their ideas whilst maintaining the tone of social cohesion & unity.

Acting Deputy Head of PRC, Ernest Shozi closed the event by calling for more open discussion platforms such as the seminar to engage the public and create conversations on pressing topics that relate to race.

~ Thabisile Ngeleka

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