Ford Foundation to mark 20th anniversary of its Southern Africa office

The Ford Foundation’s president, board of trustees and senior leadership will visit South Africa next week to pay tribute to visionary leaders and organisations that have helped South Africa advance the cause of social justice at home and abroad. The visit marks the 60th year since the foundation’s first grant in Southern Africa and the 20th anniversary of its office in Johannesburg.

From 9-15 February, the foundation will bring together leading thinkers, artists, government officials, activists and others in a series of events and dialogues to explore the theme of achieving “the full promise of democracy.” The events will highlight efforts by South African social justice organisations and their allies to deepen democracy, build greater inclusion, and expand opportunity in South Africa and the region—and help to chart a course for the future. The visit is also a chance for the Ford Foundation to publicly reaffirm its long-term commitment to South Africa and the region.

“This country’s people, institutions and social movements have been a source of inspiration throughout the world”, says Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “As South Africa gains even more prominence on the global stage, the work of its social change leaders can inspire many others. The world is watching to see what happens here.”

Achmat Dangor, the regional representative for the Ford Foundation adds: “Two decades after the fall of apartheid, South Africa is home to one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, economic growth and abundant natural resources. Its peaceful transition to democracy stands as a model for the rest of the world.Yet even in the face of this astonishing progress, poverty and inequality are still increasing. Vast disparities in access to education, land and economic opportunity, coupled with the world’s highest prevalence of HIV, limit our region’s continued progress. There is still much to be done.”

The foundation, Dangor says, “will continue to take risks and create spaces for experimentation, allowing social justice organisations to test and strengthen promising initiatives that can be adopted by others to reach many more people, both here and around the world. We are incredibly excited about the next generation of this work”.

Realizing the Dream: The Promise of South Africa (Lead Event)
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
09:30 to 16:30
The Forum Turbine Hall, 65 Ntemi Piliso Street, Newtown, Johannesburg 2001

In a series of provocative conversations around critical social justice issues, punctuated by artistic performances by the Mzansi Youth Choir, Lebo Mashile and Lira, this symposium will bring together leading figures from civil society, government and the private sector as well as artists, writers and academics. The list of speakers for the day includes:

  • Adam Habib Vice Chancellor and Principal at the Witwatersrand University
  • Trevor Manuel Minister in the Presidency, National Planning Commission
  • Wendy Luhabe Entrepreneur
  • Yvonne Mokgoro Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
  • Franklin A. Thomas Former President of the Ford Foundation
  • Moeletsi Mbeki Deputy Chair, South African Institute of International Affairs
  • Achmat Dangor Representative of the Ford Foundation, Southern Africa
  • Darren Walker President of the Ford Foundation
  • Moderators: Justice Malala Host of The Justice Factor; Charlayne Hunter-Gault Journalist and former CNN Africa Host; and Jack Devnarain Professional Actor

“Soft Vengeance” Film Premier
Monday, 10 February 2014
18:00 to 21:00
The Market Theatre, Cnr. Bree and Miriam Makeba, Johannesburg 2001

“Soft Vengeance,” directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Abby Ginzberg, documents the life and struggles of human rights activist and retired Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs—from his early resistance and exile to his involvement in shaping the new South African Constitution. A reception will be held at The Market Theatre.

Exhibition Launch: “Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life”
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
18:30 to 20:30
Museum Africa, 121 Bree Street, Newtown, Johannesburg 2001

After acclaimed runs in Munich, Milan and New York, “Rise and Fall of Apartheid” opens in Johannesburg at Museum Africa. Organized by the International Center of Photography, the exhibition offers an encyclopaedic view of apartheid and photographic practice and represents the culmination of more than a decade of research supported by the International Center of Photography in New York. Rise and Fall of Apartheid features the work of more than 70 South African photographers and artists, including more than 800 images, 27 films and a book. Follow “Rise and Fall of Apartheid” on Twitter at @RnF_apartheid.

Note: The anniversary symposium, Realizing the Dream: The Promise of South Africa, and the premier of "Soft Vengeance” will be open to media.

For more information, contact Arcay Burson-Marsteller:

Janine Raftopoulos
Tel: +27 11 480 8525
Cell: +27 71 444 3121
Email: [email protected]

Rekgotswe Machika
Tel: +27 11 480 8619
Cell: +27 82 7333 098
Email: [email protected]


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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.