LOCAL leaders Yasmin Saanglae and Loshini Naidoo are representing the new Pietermaritzburg chapter as part of the South African delegation to attend the Gopio International Convention to be held in Europe this week.At the gathering of delegates from around the world for the 30th convention of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (Gopio International), South Africa will be proposing that the next conference takes place in Africa to mark the 160th year since the arrival of Indian indentured labourers in Durban.They are also proposing an extraordinary meeting to take place in Victoria Falls to launch the opening of new country chapters in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations.Gopio International spokesperson Marlan Padayachee said the proposal to motivate Gopio International to strengthen its presence in southern Africa was to be formalised at this week’s first European convention taking place in Berlin and Paris from November 8 to 12.Padayachee added that November 16 will mark the 159th year of Indian indentured history in South Africa. The SA chapter is to lobby chairperson Dr Thomas Abraham, president Sunny Kulathakal and chief convention organiser Mehen Poonoisawmy to support the bid for Gopio International to be part of the grand celebrations of Indians in Africa from 1860 to 1911, and the Victoria Falls summit in Zimbabwe would set the trend to make inroads into Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia, where there is a strong diplomatic presence by the Indian government as well as corporate business interests.She said that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced at the investment conference in Johannesburg recently that the industrialised and economically experienced African nations can no longer go it alone and it is time for a pan-African push to bolster the sagging economies of neighbouring nations.“The historic landmark of the town of Victoria Falls is well developed as a tourist hot spot with a fascinating ecosystem and it will be an ideal setting for the highly influential leaders of India and the U.S. and UK-recognised Gopio International to meet and strategise on this inroad into Africa,” said Padayachee.She said that meanwhile, longstanding official Mahen Utchanah has confirmed that Gopio International and the International Indentured Girmitya Foundation will be celebrating the 185th year anniversary of Indian immigrants on November 2, 1834, this month.She highlighted that for the first time since Gopio International was founded in 1989, with the diplomatic endorsement of the Indian government in New Delhi, a world gathering of the most influential Indians will be hosted in two famous landmark cities — Berlin and Paris.“The forthcoming conference is headlined as the ‘Indiaspora meeting in Europe’, under the theme, ‘Strengthening Global Connections’. The 30th biennial convention took place in the German city of Berlin from November 8 to 10, and the entourage was to then travel to France for the second leg of the meeting on November 11 and November 12 in Paris, according to the head of mission of the local organising committees in both host cities,” said Padayachee. Newly elected president Sunny Kulathakal from Bahrain said the leadership is looking forward to the South African bloc, including many of its prominent life members,who will join the global celebration.“We welcome South Africa as one of the oldest members and we look forward to their inputs and insights, especially when the country is on the cusp of celebrating and commemorating 160 years of the arrival of indentured Indians in Durban on November 16, 1860,” he said.Gopio International has dispatched a call for speakers, panellists and thought leaders to contribute to the dual gatherings.Some of the highlights include visits to the sights and sound of Berlin. Among the famous sites is the now collapsed Berlin Wall, which separated communist East Germany from democratic West Germany and was torn down during the detente of the 1980s and followed with the unification of Germany.Delegates will then travel together to the French capital.In Paris, chief co-ordinator Mehen Poinoosawmy said the tours have been arranged. A Gopio meeting of leaders and country delegations is on the schedule at the French parliament.— Supplied.