The second event hosted by the Department of Humanities Education was the 33rd South African Society for History Teaching (SASHT) and 3rd African Association for History Education (AHE-Afrika) joint conference from the 26th to the 27th of September 2019. The event was organised by Prof Johan Wassermann, Dr Denise Bentrovato and Ms Dominique du Toit, staff members who also run AHE-Afrika, a Pan-African educational NPO launched in 2015 and seated within the department. The event attracted much interest. We welcomed as many as 140 guests from our nine provinces as well as the broader African continent and the world. The theme of the conference was ‘History education and the state’. During the two days that brought them together to exchange views on this topical subject, delegates had the choice of attending eighteen different panels, with topics ranging from ‘Sensitive issues in History education in post-conflict societies in Africa’, ‘History textbooks in Africa’ to ‘Decolonising History education’. Our fellow colleagues that travelled from outside of South Africa provided new and rich perspectives of History education outside of our national context. We learned about contexts that range from Zimbabwe to Tanzania, to Italy, Argentina and even the Pacific.
Many were the highlights of the event, and we can mention a few. We were honoured to be welcomed by the Dean, Prof Chika Sehoole, whose warm address welcomed our delegates, many who travelled from far. If the variety of thought-provoking and inspiring papers presented at the event was not an indication of the calibre of the conference, the keynote address by Prof Teresa Barnes from the University of Illinois, USA, certainly was. She presented a paper that reflected on History teaching after the seminal periods after Mugabe, Obama and Mandela. After a long first day, the delegates had the chance to network with their fellow colleagues at the evening cocktail where they could exchange thoughts, ideas and contacts. The conference ended on a good note, with Prof Luigi Cajani from the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, donating the recently published book The Palgrave Handbook of Conflict and History Education in the Post-Cold War Era, in which our very own Prof Johan Wassermann and Dr Denise Bentrovato represented the African continent by respectively authoring the chapters on South Africa, and Rwanda and Burundi.
We would like to thank everyone who attended the conference and those involved that made it a huge success. We look forward to creating lasting collaborations based on the outcomes of this year’s conference and building upon its success for next year!