Today I finally visited the University of Johannesburg.
The campus is impressive, green, and clean.
It is clearly an architectural product of the 1970s-80s…
…and its interior spaces create very nice light conditions in an interplay with the rays of the African sun.
The main place I visited was the hosting department of Greek and Latin Studies.
We spent the morning discussing various practical matters of the conference and theoretical topics of mutual academic interests at the office of Dr. Effie Zacharopoulou.
And by 14:00, we gathered at the conference venue where the first hour was offered at addresses and greetings by the honored guests of the conference hosts. Professor Benjamin Hendrickx, as the head of the organizing committee, welcomed us all and gave the word to the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, to the Greek Orthodox Bishop and the Coptic Bishop, to the Ambassador of Cyprus and the Consul of Greece, to Mr. Bizos, the prominent Greek human rights lawyer who was part of the team that defended Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial, and to Mr. Kouvelis, a former student of professor Hendrickx and the previous president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).
After this ceremonial opening it was time for the proceedings to begin and the opening lecture was delivered by professor Vassileios Christides, Director of the Institute of Greco-Oriental and African Studies. The title of this keynote lecture was: The Red Sea, a turbulent sea between Africa and Asia in the 6th c. AD.
The discussion that followed was quite lively and concerned the ship building traditions of the Red Sea, the origins of the armies that fought in the war between the Himarites and the Axumites, the languages used during the first centuries of Christianity in the area. The last topic kept up the interest until much later than the end of the talk promising fruitful debates in the days to come. I bet we are all looking forward to meeting again tomorrow morning for the sessions on “Ancient Civilizations in Africa” and “Greek and African Philosophy and Theology”…