Good hope for a new generation - Reflections on diversity and change in South Africa and The Netherlands

April 5, 2017. Symposium organized by Rijksmuseum and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

03/07/2017 | 9:30 AM

The exposition Good Hope? in the Rijksmuseum gives an overview and a new look on the tight relationship between The Netherlands and South Africa since Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. He developed a station on behalf of the VOC that would become a growing settlement with newcomers such as colonists, enslaved etc. They pushed the local population to the borders through bloody conflicts. One could say that the many years of (both Dutch and British) imperialism and colonialism that followed the arrival of Van Riebeeck, eventually set the base for Apartheid, a system that from the start was heavily contested and resisted. This resistance culminated in the abolishment of Apartheid and the election and leadership of Nelson Mandela that thrived on the endowment of equal rights and opportunities to everyone.

Access to education on the basis of learning capacities is a fundamental condition for equal opportunities. The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam was founded 135 years ago for this reason. In recent years students of the so-called born-free generation in South Africa urge their universities for change and demand transformation of the curricula, equal access, staff diversity, and better job opportunities. South Africa is in transition. Again. But so are The Netherlands, dealing with issues as ‘white privilege’ and ‘zwarte piet’. The aim of this symposium is that the Dutch and South Africans learn from each other in building an open and diverse nation where talents can develop.

For this symposium two South African speakers are invited to reflect on the past and especially on the future of the new generation. Is there good hope for the transformation of the countries? In what ways can cultural and educational institutions contribute to the transformation process in The Netherlands as well as in South Africa?

18.00      Visit to the exposition Good hope?
19.30      Drinks & Bites
20.00      Opening words

·         Martine Gosselink, Head Department of History, Rijksmuseum

·         André Ran, Academic Director of the Desmond Tutu Programme, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

·         Introduction to the programme by moderator Seada Nourhussen, journalist Trouw

20.10      Transformation in higher education

·         Keynote by Mamokgethi Phakeng, Deputy Vice-Chancellor on Research and Internationalisation, University of Cape Town, on the lessons from the recent student protests in South Africa. Can they be read as a sign of good hope for transformation in higher education?

·         Followed by a discussion with Vinod Subramaniam, Rector Magnificus Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

20.55      Forum students on (protest) initiatives to transform their educational institutions

·         Jessica de Abreu, graduated from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam with a master degree's in Social and Cultural Anthropology and Culture, Organization and Management. She is also board member at New Urban Collective.

·         Kiza Magendane, student Political Science at University of Amsterdam. He is also founder of African Students United.

21.15      Another perspective: what literature and language tells us

·         Keynote by Antjie Krog, is a poet, writer, journalist and professor at the University of the Western Cape. She has published thirteen volumes of poetry in Afrikaans and three non-fiction books in English, e.g. Begging to be Black about the different ethical frameworks operating in the country’s democracy.

·         Literary interview of Antjie Krog by Adriaan van Dis, a Dutch author famous for many novels e.g. Beloofde land & In Afrika  and Ik kom terug, on urgent questions in her oeuvre.

22.00      Closing

You can buy tickets a Euro 10,- (students) of 15,- (including the exhibition, drink and bite) via