From 16 to 18 June 2017, the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation hosted a three-day conference on “The Pan-African Pantheon”. Thirty-five prominent African and Diaspora scholars from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe presented papers on a range of carefully selected topics including broad themes such as the pioneers of Pan-Africanism; politicians and activists; political scientists, sociologists, historians, and economists; philosophers; literati; and musical activists.
The conference was a concrete initiative aimed at contributing to the efforts made by UJ and other South African universities to decolonise the academic curriculum, and to ensure that the epistemologies underpinning their syllabi reflect their African contexts.
By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, and focusing on history, politics, sociology, economics, philosophy, literature and music, the project also sought to make a comprehensive and holistic effort to contribute to the transformation of South Africa’s curriculum. An edited book will be produced after the conference, and will be widely disseminated across Africa and its Diaspora.
The conference fulfilled an important aspect of the mission of UJ’s Pan-African Institute: to build bridges with institutions in all five African subregions as well as key Diaspora intellectual communities in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. These collaborations reflect the cultural diversity of Pan-Africanism, encompassing the anglophone, francophone, lusophone, and arabophone worlds. This project represented an ambitious effort to create a ‘Johannesburg School of Pan-Africanism’ that can revive Pan-Africanism as a civil society movement linking actors from Africa and its Diaspora.
The conference was open to students, faculty, and other university staff at UJ; members of the broader academic, civil society, and business communities in Gauteng and beyond; members of the general public; government officials; and diplomats. Gauteng-based Pan-African media were invited to cover the event. The conference was also filmed so that all or part of it, as well as the edited volume, could later be used as teaching aid at universities and schools in South Africa, Africa, and the Diaspora.