Tag Archives: South Africa

Trauma, Community and Reflection: Mandela’s Long Walk towards Solidarity with All South Africans

By Fanie du Toit

Like a stubborn tree growing from the crevice in a rock face, reconciliation has to take root and survive in adverse conditions where the very idea may seem counterintuitive. Although there is almost always a need for it, there is seldom a moment where conditions appear “right.”

It is hard therefore to envision reconciliation, not least while the fighting continues. Leaders will lament reconciliation’s absence, but in the same breath proclaim its total impossibility. “Desirable in principle, but not realistic,” they would say. It is therefore worth asking how it transpired that South Africa’s political leaders did in fact decide to adopt reconciliation as a guiding principle for activism towards peaceful, yet radical change. Much of their ability to turn hearts towards reconciliation hinged on dealing reflectively with the trauma resulting from three decades of brutal conflict with those they were seeking to recruit as fellow activists. Continue reading

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What is Political Reconciliation?

By Ernesto Verdeja

The death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013 brought renewed attention to the remarkable change in South Africa twenty years earlier, when the racist apartheid regime was finally dismantled and replaced with a democratic and broadly inclusive political order. For South Africans, the end of apartheid brought a host of challenges: how should society reckon with past human rights violations—through prosecutions, amnesties to secure peace, or truth-telling to clarify historical wrongs? What is owed to victims of atrocities, and how should victims’ needs be balanced with the numerous other pressing issues confronting the new democracy, such as fighting poverty and inequality or ensuring that violence would not return? Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Social Trauma and Activism