AFRE Fellows Kick-Off 2019 Programme in South Africa

In June, the 2019 Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity gathered in Magaliesburg, a small, mountainous town 70 kilometers outside Johannesburg, South Africa. This gathering, which marked the first module of the second year of the AFRE programme, was geared towards kickstarting a journey of personal development for each Fellow whilst being in community with other changemakers.

Over the course of the week, Fellows began to unpack the theoretical framing of anti-Black racism and white supremacy, and engaged in dialogue around successfully dismantling intersectional structures of oppression through sustainable actions. They also explored the history and comparative contexts of racial inequality in the United States and South Africa, lifting up the many similarities and differences, including the function of anti-Blackness in shaping institutions, policies and cultural narratives today in the two countries.

Fellows also spent a day at the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, which led to long conversations on intergenerational struggles and the leadership that shaped our present-day South African society. The day ended with Fellows breaking bread together at the Foundation whilst engaging in thoughtful conversations over a delicious meal prepared by the Roving Bantu Kitchen.

Staying true to the theme of the week, the Roving Bantu Kitchen is located in Brixton, an old suburb of Johannesburg once notorious for its police force’s Brixton Murder and Robbery Squad. Brixton was the spiritual home of apartheid—and now, the Roving Bantu Kitchen, with its ‘prisoner in the garden’ logo (referring to Nelson Mandela), is a practical journey towards establishing a temple of African freedoms and friendships for present and future generations of Africans who will truly say, ‘Never again!’ The food, the music, the culture: all is an excuse to bring people together in order to have this important conversation among generations.

After an intense five days of rich dialogue sessions, Fellows walked away forming part of a new community and a network spread across the Atlantic. In true South African spirit, the week was one that honoured the praxis of Ubuntu.

—Patronelle Nqaba, Associate Programme Director