The ICON Director, Crispin Hemson, spoke on 17th September 2014 at the annual Steve Biko Conference at Durban University of Technology. His speech addressed Education and Morality, and he drew in particular on personal memories of Steve Biko – including the time Steve Biko gave his room for him to sleep in, during a seminar at the Alan Taylor Residence in Wentworth, organised by Crispin.
The Director spoke also about the need for us to tell the stories of where we came from, and what shaped us, and to listen to such stories from others. He spoke about his own heritage, shaped by British imperalism, and how we need to leave some things behind. Education is still formed around the assumptions of such backgrounds, and it often carries the violence of exclusion.
He spoke also of listening to the journey of a DUT student, who as a small boy, a refugee from Rwanda, had walked across the DRC. He had endured appalling experiences, but now says that instead of blaming people, he focuses on hope, as he still has life.
The question then posed is whether academics seeing this young man in the lecture room see him as someone who has not yet learnt, someone with a deficit or lack, or as someone who brings wisdom into the room.
Other speakers were Professor Saths Cooper, President of the International Union of Psychological Science, Veli Mbhele, Black Consciousness activist, and Lebohang Pheko, Managing Director of Four Rivers.