EU-SADC Intercultural Dialogue

Heritage Day, 23rd September, Johannesburg, South Africa
ESAA, CMS, OYOE, Events, EMA, OCEANS, .

Integrating culture into development processes is a worthy investment in the world’s future and a catalyst for achieving global objectives with cross cultural global undertones. Consequently, culture is seen as an enabler and a driver of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Such realisation is acknowledged in culturally diverse South Africa s evidenced in the establishment of a Heritage Day.

Heritage Day is one of the newly created South African public holidays. It is a day in which all are encouraged to celebrate their cultural traditions in the wider context of the great diversity of cultures, beliefs, and traditions that make up the nation of South Africa. Ideals which equally resonate with ESAA.

In the vein of celebrating shared culture rather than focusing on cultural divisions, the EMA African Chapter and its partners in Oceans organised a day of intercultural dialogue dealing with issues affecting the youth of both continents. The event which coincided with Heritage Month celebrations in South Africa brought together youth groups and personalities who are actively working to improve the lives of the youth.

Furthermore, the event had the goal:

  • To improve collaboration of youth groups and ESAA partners in the SADC region and strengthening of the alumni network for further promotion of Erasmus+ and ways of impacting society positively
  • To disseminate of knowledge about E+ programmes and different opportunities offered by ESAA and its member organisations in Europe and in Africa
  • To establish links with partners in education, EUDs and other partners to strengthen the position of E+ alumni in the SADC
  • To form partnerships with the youth groups and institutions for further dissemination of Erasmus+ and related activities in the region

Mr Alin Horj of Oceans who was in Johannesburg for the event, gave a background of the Erasmus+ programme and how prospective students can take advantage of this unique opportunity. This generated lots of interests from the participants who responded with several questions about the programme.

There was also a feedback/ evaluation session where participants gave input on what they would like to see implemented to enhance future ESAA dialogues. Particpants were grateful to ESAA for funding the event and making it a success.

Some of the youth groups which were invited for the event include the African Union Youth Clubs, HIV/AIDS Awareness, Disabled youth forum, Marie Curie Alumni Association, Dutch Students Alumni, SA, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) inter alia.

The sessions were interspersed with light refreshments from across africa which culminated in the intercultural lunch which served dishes from West, East, Central and Southern Africa with the compliment of European dish. Some of the dishes which were served include Jollof rice, palaver sauce, waakye, fried rice, seafood, kenkey and gravy, pap & chakalaka , shito, umngqumsho and pizza. The traditional African caterers also gave an oral history background of the dishes served to the participants.

The participants coming from several African countries divided themselves into groups and did some brainstorming to proffer solutions for some of the pressing challenges of the youth such as education, employment, governance and envrionmental degradation. This was to help feed into discussions in the upcoming African Union/European Union Youth summit. For each thematic area, the participants tasked themselves with identifying the key problems in that sector and their prescribed solution to the identified problem from the youth perspective.

A drama therapist Zandile Mqwathi demonstrated how drama therapy helps to address some of the challenges facing society using several forms of expression such as movement, sound, body language, and speech. In the helped people to express the feelings, develop imagination and creativity, improve self confidence along with social and interpersonal skills.. This includes adolescents with social and emotional difficulties, people with mental health problems (children and adults), people with learning disabilities, physically disabled and neurologically impaired people.

The ILO (International Labour Organisation) posits that there are 71 million unemployed youth globally and 156 million young workers living in poverty: making youth employment a key policy concern and core challenge in contemporary times. A youth entrepreneur Desmond Klenam, shared his expereinces as an entrepreneur and how the youth can work together to facilitate access to decent jobs especially for youth in fragile work situations. Often the youth unlike the older generation lack the adequate social networks and capital to facilitate their career or even start their own businesses. The forum served to encourage networking amongst the youth and create synergy in related areas of activities.

Mr Felix Kwabena Donkor, President of EMA African Chapter further briefed delegates on the agenda of the day and prepared for stage for the various speakers to make presentations on a myriad of issues affecting the youth.

An Eritrean delegate spoke on the importance of education in empowering the youth to engineer the continent’s accelerated development in the context of the African Union’s Agenda 2060 and the renewed EU/Africa partnership. Moreover, Youth Development is crucial to enahncing the success of the youth in life.  The number of prospective workers often outweigh the vaialble job opportunties, and many youth are unable to further their education  and become more specialised. This calls for youth development programmes equip young people with requisite work readiness programmes, opportunities to advance their education and make a difference in their communities.

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We offer Erasmus+ students and alumni a dynamic platform for networking, professional development and intercultural exchange.

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