India and Africa not emerging, but re-emerging: Anand Sharma

September 16th, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Sep 16 (IANS) India and African nations are not emerging nations but re-emerging nations because “we were there before what is documented and before we were colonised”, says MInister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.”We were there before what is documented and before we were colonised, and that is a shared experience that we have with our brothers and sisters in Africa,” Sharma said Monday night at a dinner hosted by Consul-General Navdeep Suri to highlight a successful first half of the six-week Shared Histories Festival of art, culture, cuisine, dance and music from India that is also part of the Johannesburg Arts Alive Festival.

“It is not only a shared history but also a shared destiny. Both in South Africa and in India in the 21st century there are people who have the capability, who have the determination, to achieve what our people have collectively aspired for.

“Today we have reconnected, and I have no doubt that African and Indian artists and authors will come together and have their own message and their own music to demonstrate that we may have been branded poor, because of that denial of opportunity, denial of access to our own resources, but that we have always had the strength to come back to reach out to embrace what the world sees today in the 21st century - an explosion of high technology that complements our artists and their troupes,“ the minister added.

Touching on the message of Mahatma Gandhi and its relevance in the world today, Sharma said the shared history would be incomplete without referring to the shared painful experiences of colonisation, humiliation and subjugation.

“It’s important that we talk of all that we have shared in the past to recall that what Gandhi meant 102 years ago in this city when he gave the first call of rising and what he means to the world today are different.

“There’s no change of message. He talked of non-violence and peace. He talked of compassion. But in the first decade of the 21st century, Gandhi’s words and his message must remind us that despite all the progress that we have made - the emergence of new nation states, freedom and liberty - one challenge remains, (that of removing) the mindless violence, intolerance and lack of humanity. We see day after day that many people who need protection and love become victims of the same mindless violence.”

Making a plea to the many dignitaries, artists and businesspersons present, the minister said it was important “that each one of us finds some time to make a contribution, not in monetary terms, but as human beings, to ensure that the legacy that we have inherited is rich but that what we leave behind is richer“.

Commending celebrated danseuse Aditi Mangaldas, who performed an impromptu item with her troupe ahead of two performances here later this week, Sharma said: “I recall Aditi in the 1980s making her contribution by carrying the Indian flag to distant places just to remind people that we also have our music, our rhythm, and our sounds.”

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