Seventeen years have elapsed since the 3rd IFA Conference was held in Durban, South Africa in 1997 and the 12th IFA Conference takes place in Hyderabad this June. I was a co-organiser of the Durban conference, which we convened three years into the country’s proud new democracy, after the jubilantly heralded demise of apartheid (Ferreira, 1997). Late last year, South Africans – and the world – took leave of our beloved Madiba, Nelson Mandela. His passing was an occasion to celebrate his extraordinary life and contribution, and his longevity. Indeed, many likened his stature and contribution to that of the revered Mahatma Gandhi – who coincidentally lived in South Africa, near Durban, for a good while (from 1893 to 1913 – intermittently in the latter years), where he cut some of his political (“passive resistance”) teeth on injustices he observed and experienced under our former British colonialist and racist policies (www.sahistory.org.za/people/mohandas-mahatma-karamchand-gandhi).
Interestingly, South Africa’s multi-ethnic population is home to one of the largest groups of Indians outside India (Indians number some 3.5 million of a total population of 52 million). The majority of Indians reside in or around Durban, where Indian culture is vibrant – which set me thinking as to several links between Durban and Hyderabad.
One of the hats I wear is that of Co-President of the ILC Global Alliance, along with Baroness Sally Greengross (ILC-UK), a longstanding member of IFA. The Global Alliance will convene a symposium in the Hyderabad conference on “Rethinking health and health care: Attitudes, strategies and challenges.” Dr Alex Kalache (ILC Brazil) will chair the symposium and will speak on a culture of care. Other confirmed speakers are Dr Daisuke Watanabe (for ILC Japan), Dr Sebastiana Kalula (ILC South Africa), and Dr Kavita Sivaramakrishnan (ILC USA) who will present work done in India.
A second symposium, on “Financial well-being in old age – a global perspective,” is being convened jointly by ILC-UK (Jessica Watson refers – email@example.com) and HelpAge International. Speakers will explore patterns of financial well-being, including consumption and expenditure, issues that affect the “oldest old”, and specific challenges in the developing world. The audience will be invited to debate how governments globally can best ensure the financial well-being of their older citizens.
I wish to congratulate and thank IFA President Dr K.R. Gangadharan and the Hyderabad conference organising teams for their inspiring, effective and efficient leadership in planning and co-ordinating the programmes. My thoughts extend, too, to valued colleagues at our sister organisation, ILC India, and to the late Dr Sharad Gokhale in particular, whom we remember with love and appreciation for his enormous contribution to gerontology in India and globally, and to the ILC Global Alliance. His active membership and leadership of the IFA over several decades must certainly be acknowledged as well. Dr Gokhale was a frequent visitor to Durban, and on each occasion was warmly welcomed – and celebrated – by the local Indian community.
The ILC Global Alliance and I personally wish the organisers and all who will participate in it, a stellar 12th IFA Conference in beautiful Hyderabad. Several ILC members will be participating in the conference and keenly look forward to doing so. Indeed, each looks forward greatly to meeting you there!
Dr Monica Ferreira
President, ILC South Africa
Co-President, ILC Global Alliance
Cape Town, South Africa
Ferreira, M. 1997. Ageing and diversity: Towards empowerment and fulfilment. A celebration of democracy and ageing. IFA Third Global Conference, Durban, South Africa, October 19-23, 1997. Ageing International, Summer, pp. 81-87.