‘A turning point for psychology in Africa’

The Pan-African Psychology Union (Papu) and the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) will host the first-ever continental psychology congress from September 18 to 21 at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa.

“This convening of psychology leaders marks a turning point for the African continent, as a critical hub of psychological thinking and practice. African psychologists have played, and continue to play, a key role in charting more humane futures – both in Africa and across the world,” says Prof Saths Cooper, president of Papu.

Prof Anthony Pillay, chair of the congress scientific committee, states that “This gathering of psychology scholars and practitioners is particularly significant given colonial histories in Africa. It is for this reason that the decolonisation of psychology and knowledge production feature prominently in the congress programme and offer exciting opportunities for critical discussion, interrogation and debate.”

The comprehensive congress programme includes a wide range of scholarly and practice-oriented presentations. The programme includes more than 60 keynote presentations and 50 symposia by leading African and international scholars, pre-congress workshops, and several hundred paper and poster presentations. These address key focal areas within the broad discipline of psychology, including African psychologies, human rights, public health, gender and sexuality, and violence.

Members of the Papu executive – representing psychological associations in Ghana, Botswana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia – will take part in congress deliberations. They will be joined by leaders of the American Psychological Association, the International Union of Psychological Science, the International Association of Applied Psychology, the International Test Commission, together with Chinese, Russian and other psychological associations in Africa and others further afield.

Congress highlights

Monday September 18 (opening ceremony)

A glittering opening ceremony, showcasing cultural performances from across the African continent, will be held for delegates and dignitaries, including university vice-chancellors and members of the diplomatic corps. This will be followed by a welcome reception and congress party.

Some keynote addresses (September 19-21)

  • Psychology in meta-colonised Africa: New challenges in a new era, by Prof Hussein Bulhan, president and professor of the Frantz Fanon University, Somaliland
  • Psychology and the public interest in Africa: Breakthroughs and setbacks, by Prof Andrew Zamani, president of the Nigerian Psychological Association
  • Wounds of history: Transgenerational transmission of trauma and the post-apartheid condition, by Prof Pumla Gobodo, research chair for historical trauma and transformation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Is Pan-African psychology the way forward? by Prof Charles Mate-Kole, founding member and general secretary of Papu, Ghana
  • Psychology as a discipline in an era of transdisciplinarity, by Prof Cheryl de la Rey, vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Potential for psychology to improve the lives of Africans and what needs to be done, by Dr Yogan Pillay, deputy director-general, National Department of Health, South Africa
  • Psychological science, psychologists and public engagement, by Prof Pam Maras, president-elect, International Union of Psychological Science, London
  • Psychology from a human rights perspective, by Dr Polli Hagennaars, European Federation of Psychologists’ Organisations, Amsterdam
  • Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder: Where do we currently stand? by Prof Suraya Seedat, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

PAPU is the representative body for the science and profession of psychology in Africa. Its mission is to be a collaborative union of psychological societies and psychologists in Africa committed to scholarship and human development in our communities, countries, Africa and the World.
PsySSA, formed in 1994, is Africa’s largest scientific and professional psychology organisation and is the representative body of the profession in South Africa.