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Letter from the Saches Chairperson, Professor Sarie Berkhout

Dear SACHES colleagues:

After a most successful Saches Conference at Devon Valley in the Cape Winelands we need to express our sincere appreciation to Harold Herman and his team. It was truly a memorable event and brought together a larger than ever number of participants. Notwithstanding the larger number of participants the setting, programme and engagement amongst participants once again captured the very special sphere of all SACHES conferences. For me attending a conference where colleagues come from across our African and wider boundaries feels like a celebration with lots of gifts to unwrap. Every presentation becomes like the unwrapping of a special present that opens up new perspectives on the complexities and local manifestations of difference in a world becoming increasingly ‘flat’.

The next most important event on the agenda of all Comparative Societies (in our case including the richness of historical dimensions) will be the World Congress in Istanbul of which the President, Professor Crain Soudien, has also been a Secretary of Saches. His inspiring words inviting our participation to the congress in this magnificent city located on the Bhosphorous were mesmerizing. He presented to us a place and space where geographical and socially constructed boundaries represent significant historical events. This elicited in me the possibilities of exploring the wonder of history and uniqueness in global ubiquitous connectivity down a longitudinal line drawn through the Mediterranean, down the Nile and through the rift break-lines along the Great Lakes of Africa right down to the South African Cape Agulhas. It became a reminder of the marvel of the African coastline and the history of a great continent that needs to be re-visited as there remains so much that cries out to be understood beyond the coastal settlements of traders and colonists. Thinking about Africa necessarily highlights our oceanic borders, on the one side the Indian Ocean connecting us to the East and the other the Atlantic connecting us to the West. Being at this intersection should make of Africa the centre of thinking and acting on the future. Re-visiting and re-scripting the borders that hold us captive.

I do hope as many as possible of our African colleagues will be going to Istanbul for the WCCES in June 2010 to bring ‘gifts’ from across borders, literal and metaphoric.

Looking forward to a great meeting.

Sarie Berkhout

To Mino Polelo’s family we wish to extend our sincere condolences.

 

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