It’s been over 60 years since the Pan African Archeological Association and Related Studies (PAA) lost its bid to come to South Africa for its second congress. In 1948, the nationalist government withdrew its support for the congress and delegates made their way to Algiers in 1951.
This week, Wits University, initially intended as the 1951 venue, hosted PAA members from all corners of the continent at the 14th installation of their congress.
One of the conference organisers, Dr Karim Sadar, who lectures archaeology at Wits University, said the conference was a landmark event.
Sadar explained that the apartheid government did not want to associate with other African countries because it believed in racial segregation.
President of the association, Benjamin Smith, a former Wits professor, described the congress as the biggest gathering of PAA members so far with almost 500 participants: “We have delegates coming from across Africa and this is the largest Pan African congress we have ever held,” he said.
Delegates were treated to oral and poster presentations around the theme: ‘African Archeology without frontiers.”
Speaking at the opening of the congress on Monday this week, deputy director general in the Department of Science and Technology, Professor Yonah Seleti praised the work of the PAA and its members.
“The work that you do contributes not only to the scientific knowledge around origins, but also contributes to our social cohesion and cultural identity, and much more, it carves a path to modernity which is Africa, Seleti said.