15 May 2024 "International academic seminar The Urals and Africa against Racism: Past and Present"

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E-mail: inafr@inafr.ru

30/1 Spiridonovka str., Moscow, 123001
Tel. (495) 690-27-52
Fax: (495) 697-19-54
E-mail: inafr@inafr.ru


International academic seminar
15 May 2024

The Institute for African Studies (IAS), Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Ural Federal University (UrFU) jointly held an international academic seminar The Urals and Africa against Racism: Past and Present.

The seminar, which took place in Yekaterinburg on 15 May 2024, was organised by the Centre for Southern Africa Studies of the IAS and the Department of Oriental Studies of the Ural Institute for Humanities of the UrFU with the assistance of the Office of the Honorary Consul of the Republic of South African in Yekaterinburg

The event is timed to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of one of the largest grassroots Soviet grassroots campaigns of solidarity with the struggle against the regime of racial discrimination in South Africa. In 1984–1985, the youth of Sverdlovsk voluntarily collected twenty tons of humanitarian aid. The gift of the Ural teenagers was delivered to the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (Tanzania), an educational institution for young members of the African National Congress and children of participants in the liberation struggle in South Africa.

The IAS was represented at the event by its senior researcher at the Centre for Southern African Studies, Candidate of Sciences (History) B M Gorelik, who is also a member of the organising committee. He made a presentation on ‘Solidarity with the struggle against apartheid and grassroots initiatives in the USSR’.

The first vice-rector of UrFU, D V Bugrov, the Honorary Consul of South Africa in Yekaterinburg, S L Mazurkevich, as well as the director of the UrFU History Faculty, A S Palkin, gave welcome speeches. The event was hosted by Dr A V Antoshin, a prominent Ural Africanist, professor with the UrFU Department of Oriental Studies.

Presentations were made by the UrFU researchers, as well as by organisers of the solidarity campaigns, UrFU alumni. Professor Antoshin spoke on the dialogue between the Urals and Africa during the Cold War. Professor S V Sokolov, Head of the Department of Russian History, together with C Montelongo, a master’s student with the UrFU History Faculty, presented their study on informal voluntary associations in Sverdlovsk of 1985–1990.

The audience warmly received presentations by members of the organising committee of the 1985 solidarity campaign. We heard from V P Bykodorov, a research fellow with the Archive of the Yeltsin Presidential Centre (Yekaterinburg); UrFU alumni, psychologist S D Bimbat (Moscow), as well as the director of the Popov History Museum of the Russian Scout Movement, I A Igoshina (Moscow), who shared their memories of collecting humanitarian aid to be presented to the Freedom College on behalf of the people of Sverdlovsk and of the relationship between teenagers of the Zheleznodorozhny District and South African students at the Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow.

The final part of the seminar included a videoconference with South Africa. Memories of the campaign were shared by its participant, a Pretoria legal assistant T Mohammed; alumni of the Peoples’ Friendship University and members of the African National Congress, mechanical engineer P Tsatsi and a lawyer, former head of the ANC mission in Moscow T Thabethe.

The seminar ended with a performance by the reunited Varshavyanka, an 1980s band, which performed songs of protest and solidarity for the guests of the seminar.

Boris Gorelik
Senior Research Fellow
Centre for Southern Africa Studies