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Tributes to Professor Orlando Fals Borda, Bogota, Colombia, June 9-10, 2017

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On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the World’s first symposium on Action Research in 1977, and 150th anniversary celebrations of the National University of Colombia; a couple of tribute ceremonies were organized as a mark of respect towards Professor Orlando Fals Borda, in Bogota, Colombia. Prof Borda, a Colombian sociologist and a globally respected academic, was noted for his contribution to the field of Participatory Action Research (PAR). Prof Borda had come to the International Forum of Participatory Research in Yugoslavia in 1980, and named Action Research, PAR ever since.

On June 9, the tribute ceremony was held at the National University of Colombia (UNAL)’s Bogota campus. Here, a young band of indigenous, minority and passionate students designed the most appropriate tribute to not only the academic, but also the person of Orlando. The tribute began with indigenous ceremony, invocation and blessings of indigenous elders, with food, and offerings. The formal conversation in the auditorium recalled intellectual and humanistic streams of Orlando’s contributions. Then, the congregation moved towards the chapel on the campus, and spontaneously began to sing and dance to the music & voice of all those community leaders who had come from all parts of Colombia to pay their tribute to the man they knew.

The ceremony in the chapel, in front of which ashes of Orlando & his partner Marta are buried, was an emotional moment. The priest from the north, the African voice, the indigenous priest, the choir that sang Orlando’s composition— invoked feelings that deeply moved all those present there.

On June 10, a tribute ceremony was held at a small locality in Saucio, Choconta, near Bogota, Colombia, where Prof Orlando started his first direct field engagement and helped develop a community association & school since 1958. The program was hosted by the Mayor of Choconta, Jorge Enrique Pinzon. The mayor, citizens, and leaders of the school had prepared a great programme, including  dialogues with community members, folkloric presentations and field visit.

Dr Rajesh Tandon participated in the event, and spoke on ‘Orlando’s legacy to Participatory Research’; his connections with PRIA, and contribution to the field of PAR. Among others who were present included Dr Doris Santos, from the UNAL, and Prof Lesley Woof from North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.

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