Innovation through the “conflict of ideas” from different cultures and disciplines is what the ‘Medici Conversations’ aspired to achieve at its inaugural event held on 15 October.

Hosted by leading Islamic financial institution, Albaraka Bank, and co-ordinated by Dr Rudi Kimmie, UKZN AfriHub Manager, the event pulled together a number of key executives representing diverse organisations from research (SMRI), banking (Albaraka), philanthropy (Helping Hands), academia (UKZN), venture capital (Optimus Investment Holdings) and the Arts.

The “Medici Conversations” was based loosely on principles from the book, The Medici Effect by Frans Johannson, which showed how multidisciplinary interactions supported by the wealthy Medici family of medieval Italy spawned the Renaissance in Italy and subsequently Europe.

The local “Medici Conversations” sought to cultivate innovative thinking through dialogue. The metaphor of building bridges through conversation in a “safe” setting, is a powerful medium to cultivate empathy, tolerance and build relationships.

After an ice-breaker activity and over a scrumptious meal, the group shared ideas and explored synergy through the medium of structured conversation. The overwhelmingly positive sentiments are captured in the following statement by Mr Fekrey Baderoon (Helping Hands), ‘It was an honour to be present and listen in to such a diverse and illustrious gathering espouse such a positive energy and love for our beautiful country, and the want to improve things for all inhabitants.’

One out of the outcomes from this initial Medici Conversation is to support research at the University.

Words: Rudi Kimmie