This month marks the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which took place in Durban from August 32 to September 8 2001. The meeting was attended by 2,300 delegates from 163 countries, as well as 4,000 civil society activists and 1,100 journalists. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action were its key outcomes.

The summit was hosted by then president Thabo Mbeki, the prophet of the African renaissance. More than any other contemporary African leader, Mbeki had a deep engagement with the “black world”. As a young student he had imbibed the activism of Martin Luther King Jr, the scholarship of Frantz Fanon, and the poetry of Langston Hughes. As president he preached black solidarity from Atlanta to Bahia to Havana to Haiti...

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