Africa's first conference on emergency medicine was held in October 1998 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Attended by 305 delegates from 13 countries, it was an important milestone in the development of Africa, emergency medicine's last frontier. The violence of South Africa's post-apartheid society was portrayed in mock scenario demonstrations of the private sector emergency medical services (EMS) system. Many of the presentations had a distinctly African flavour; they dealt with penetrating trauma and with making the best of extremely limited resources. A session reviewing the activities of traditional healers was not only terrifyingly revealing, it also upset and offended a segment of the African audience. The conference ended positively with the creation of the Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa, a step toward recognition of emergency medicine as a specialty in Africa.