The International Conference on Economics and the Social Sciences and the International Conference on Education and International Management, organised by the IFRD (represented by myself and Dr. Dilip Kumar from Kuala Lumpur) was recently held at the Durban University of Technology, in June 2014.
The conference was well-organized and well-attended with more than 80 papers presented. Most people who were there seemed to enjoy themselves and there was a particularly lively group of scholars from Nigeria, who were mostly involved in the education sector.
Durban University of Technology has more than a dozen campuses in the region and each of them is located in an urban area. The university is designed to assist local people and communities to improve themselves – I am told that 70% of university students come from families in which they are the first people to have an opportunity to undertake tertiary level education. They have just launched graduate level programmes and taken on 200 PhD students and 500 masters level students.
Durban itself has a pleasant and very colonial city centre. Around the central market, which was just down the road from the hotel where I was staying (the Royal, once a little grander than it now is), there are many imposing buildings and statues of important dignitaries, including the Empress Victoria of the British Empire.
Despite it being the height of winter, apparently, it was still sunny during the day and reached 22 degrees, which was very pleasant. There was plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit available in the supermarkets and from street vendors, as above. Despite the wealth indicated by the buildings of the city centre, there was certainly evidence of the high rate of unemployment, with lots of guys hanging around the parks and homeless people in many places.
Away from the city centre, places for gambling and drinking were numerous and no doubt other vices were available. It is possible to smell cannabis being smoked in various places. Several places were selling hair, in some cases ‘virgin hair from Brazil’ with a view to installing dreadlocks into one’s existing do. Together with the fashion in the retail part of the city centre, it seemed like people were looking for a way out of their existing lives.
There were also many notices posted offering abortion services that were variously ‘safe,’ ‘without pain,’ ‘cheap’ and even one offered by a faith healing service.
Here, on the other side of the tracks, is a view of the harbour. I am told that this is the busiest harbour in Africa, which is quite impressive. There were some yachts grouped together which I could see from the window of the hotel, but railways and container vessels are much more authentic.
This is Durban Post Office, for people who like post offices around the world.
This is the Durban Department of Labour, for people who are interested in departments of labour around the world.
And, finally, this is part of an industrial estate (or at least a part of industrial Durban), for people who like industrial estates and special economic zones around the world.