Our quest to explore exile in different contexts went from a macroperspective to a microperspective as we started the fourth day. The first morning block was spent in the company of Mr. Themba Nyathi, the first secretary of the South African ambassador in Spain, who vigorously spoke of his experiences as a South African exilee. He left South Africa in 1983 at the age of 16 and returned after 1994, when the first universal elections in a long time were held and Nelson Mandela of the ANC became president. We also got to know a bit about his home country outside of a strict exile scope, and his enthusiasm left us all animated and ready to jump on a last minute flight to experience the South African wilderness. In spite of the things that Mr. South African ambassador secretary guy had seen and experienced in his life, he never abandoned his contagious positive attitude. We made sure to get any possible question marks straightened to exclamation points in the following Q&A session.
After a refreshing coffee break we returned to listen to Humberto Vadillo, representing the Foro de Ermua, talk about the concept of internal exile with a case study of the Basque area of Spain. He confidently and competently explained the political situation with the organization ETA being in a dominant position and non-nationalists going into exile in order to avoid conflict. Between the time period of 1990-2005 about ten percent of the region’s population has left the Basque area – saying that it is a considerable amount would be an understatement. Mr Vadillo explained the different reasons for people leaving in detail, most of them being somehow connected to opposing political views and social pressure. His talk inspired a lively question session directly following his speech.
The fourth day was an exception since we had nothing on our schedule for the afternoon but free time to get the opportunity to see the city or simply rest and charge our batteries. The majority wanted to explore the city a bit, so most of us headed off in separate directions in groups loosely based on interest, whether it was walking through Madrid’s numerous parks, capturing the beauty of the architecture with a camera, shopping or visiting museums. Later in the evening we enjoyed some Spanish cuisine and relaxed socialization amongst each other in preparation for the following workday.
when was this conference?
In July 2011 in Madrid