Birzeit University Kicks Off African Studies Program

The Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies at Birzeit University in cooperation with the Representative Office of South Africa launched on April 27, 2015, a panel discussion to discuss the basics of academic cooperation between South Africa and Palestine, as a pre-requisite to the launching of the African Studies Program at Birzeit University.

The South African Minister of Higher Education Blade Bonginkosi Nzimande was supposed to take part, but the occupation authorities disallowed his entrance to the Palestinian territories. However, the meeting was attended by the representative of South Africa to Palestine, Birzeit University president Khalil Hindi, Palestinian Minister of Education Khawla Shakhshir, and the International Relations commissioner of the Fatah movement Nabil Shaath. The discussion was moderated by the Institute’s director Abdul-Karim al-Barghouthi.

In his opening statement, Hindi emphasized the importance of cooperation with Johannesburg University in South Africa, which resulted in launching the African Studies Program. This program represents the South African model of freedom, and strategies that have substantially contributed to ending apartheid in South Africa.

The minister Shakhshir valued the close relationship between the two countries, stressing that South Africa was and still is a major supporter of the Palestinian state-building institutions. S Shakhshir explained that preventing the minister of South Africa from obtaining a visa to Palestine is part of the occupation policies to crack down the freedom of the Palestinian people.

Shaath addressed the South African struggle against apartheid and the policy of racial discrimination, during which the South Africans achieved victory under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, followed by democratic transitions, and building a civil society based on equality and social justice, and respect for human rights and dignity.

The representative of South Africa expressed his happiness for signing a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with the Palestinian universities in general, and Birzeit University in particular, noting that his government is planning to develop an Arab Studies program in Johannesburg University in collaboration with Birzeit University.