Confronting Racism: The Road to Transformation and Reconciliation

In part five of a series of podcasts, 702/CapeTalk’s Koketso Sachane talks about the road to transformation and reconciliation with Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela who recently joined Stellenbosch university as their research chair in Transformation and Social Change. Professor Madikizela also served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and is a graduate of Forte Hare University, Rhodes, and the University of the Western Cape. Koketso is also joined by Lovelyn Nwadeyi, a Stellenbosch university student.

Central to transformation is the need to recognise the need for it but to also understand the process of transformation, what does it involve , where and how do we begin. We are hearing the calls for transformation in our institutions of higher learning, and we are beginning to recognise the need for this to spill into broader society. Many people argue that this is not the time, some have downplayed the call- but is it a valid call?

It's a valid call on the part of all South Africans that we have a transformed society, we have emerged from a society that is divided along racial lines...not only race that is the colour of people's skins but in terms of how people are treated, how people are excluded from opportunities.

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

We are noting the younger generation carrying the burden of the past, do we have enough dialogue between the parents of these students, in moving forward to transform our country.

These 'memories' of the past are known to be past on from generation to generation...in South Africa we live side by side, perpetrators we live side by side with people who benefited from Apartheid and so it is imperative for us to engage in the process of dialogue.What is missing is acknowledgment on a wider scale by those people who benefited by this oppressive past

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

In her powerful piece "Courage, Compassion and Complexity: Reflections on the new Matieland and the new South Africa” Lovelyn Nwadeyi speaks about the roles we need to play in society today- those who must listen, those who need to be allowed to experience. This says a lot about dialogue and a lot about but also about acknowledgement.

Part of the challenge is that we have not fully acknowledged what has happened. That expectation that suddenly people must get over things is very problematic, and it's mainstream, it's not a small group of people that say that...our supposed reconciliation or transition process was abnormal, because in what alternate universe does the perpetrator decide the terms of forgiveness.

Lovelyn NwadeyiStellenbosch Student

Lovelyn stresses that this is not to say that we need to fuel hate or the position of not forgiving, but that as a society we have reached a point in our society where we have vilified icons of struggle who still carry anger. Young people now are talking about our history and interrogate personalities who are praised or vilified.

At the end of Apartheid, black people were given the vote but economic justice is still missing.

Economic justice is what did not happen in South Africa, the post Apartheid generation carries the burden of this pain..this perhaps is the crux of the matter, the feeling of betrayal; that black people today have been betrayed by their own leaders.

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

As black people we are going to fail...and black people on the one hand need to be merciful with each other but also know that we can do better, It is our responsibility to try and re-imagine and re-construct what we are going to be...the key thins is that if we are failing we must allow ourselves to fail.

Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Stellenbosch Student

All things taken into consideration, how do we disrupt the situation and start moving forward? We all have the role to play to begin humanising each other, reconnecting ourselves with what it means to be human, in the aftermath of historical trauma.

Empathy is central to this, understanding that your humanity matters as much as mine.

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Follow this link to listen to Lovelyn Nwadeyi's moving speech.


This article first appeared on 702 : Confronting Racism: The Road to Transformation and Reconciliation


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