Evan Cupido, Associate Lecturer in Political Science at St Augustine, recently had the opportunity to attend a conference in Germany, organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung foundation, with theme: creating ‘a culture of remembrance’. Evans agreed to share with us his first-hand insight.
“I was recently invited to attend a week long study tour to Berlin Germany with the focus of the tour being creating ‘a culture of remembrance’. The tour was organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung foundation which is a political foundation aimed at strengthening democratic institutions across the globe. Joining me on this study tour was a number of representatives from civil society, business and Chapter 9 institutions across South Africa.
The aim of this study tour was to learn how Germany has overcome and dealt with its troubled past which includes both the Second World War and Cold War period. Throughout the week we had the privilege of engaging with a number of organizations and institutions in Germany who have contributed significantly to raising awareness of the past but also using the past to create a new future. Some notable events of the week included: visits to the Bundestag (German parliament), Sachsenhausen memorial, Jewish memorial museum and the Centre for Human Rights based in Cottbus. In addition to visiting these iconic sites we also critically engaged with the history of the country through dialogue with numerous experts in Germany.
What emerged from this study tour was that for a nation to move forward it must openly confront its past no matter how controversial it may be. As South Africans we too need to learn from the past so as to ensure that it does not get repeated again. In order to achieve this each citizen needs to play its part in which reconciliation and social justice is worked on every day. The German case provides a number of lessons from which we as South Africans can learn from while at the same time appreciating our own remarkable achievements to date.”