MLUNGU - An Apartheid Story

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Monuments could also restore the dignity of those whose loved ones and relatives have died. The survivors in families can feel emotionally compensated by the public acknowledgement that their relatives have died, by these symbols. This in the minds of the relatives might be interpreted as a form of denunciation of the violence, the evil which took away their loved ones.

Thus Hamber commented:.

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The processes and structures of monuments serve as a community's symbolic gesture of acknowledgement and public remorse for what happened during the conflict. This act may contribute to increase confidence in the surviving victims that they are not laughed at for the humiliation caused to them by the conflict. The safe and protected environment created by this acknowledgement will provide the victims with the space to grapple with the reality which took place, an important part of therapeutic process. Thus there is great possibility for healing to take place.

As Hamber asserted:. In that way it is believed that the dead is given recognition and taken home to rest. As Mojapelo commented about the Thokoza Monument:. Through monuments communities recognise the price paid by the dead by paying tribute to them and also acknowledge the loss of the surviving relatives. The messages on the monuments can bear testimony to the recognition of the dead as can be seen in the following examples:.

The communities use monuments to develop a code of conduct for present and future generations. Emerging from a culture of intolerance the communities reconstruct their values by adopting new philosophies of how to conduct their lives in future. Monuments can be used to symbolise a commitment to the new values. The words of Mojapelo about the Thokoza monument are a good example:.

The monuments are a symbol of new hope and new life in the communities.

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They serve as a break between the past and the future. They help the communities in the journey of self redefinition. They may also serve as symbols of good and bad at the same time. They remind the communities about their troubled past and comfort them with new hope for the future regarding commitment to new values. Mojapelo's words suggest that the community of Thokoza has undergone a rebirthing process through the monument.

These words acknowledged a violent past which the Thokoza community do not want to be remembered for, but rather be known as new community which has adopted new values particularly of tolerance. It is important for the victims to take part in projects like monuments which are aimed directly at their interests. To marginalise them because they are poor and therefore cannot contribute resourcefully to the projects would be a major mistake which would defeat the objectives of the projects.

In the Thokoza process the victims contributed funds which were used to install the tap at the site. Khumalo the coordinator of the victims explained the water supply contribution as a great act by the victims as they now have a sense of ownership of the project. Processes which undermine the participation of victims are not only alienating but undermine their integrity. This can be illustrated in Mphela's argument:.

The relatives of the dead felt humiliated because the project had failed to acknowledge the price paid by their loved ones in the struggle for freedom. This makes it clear that all those who survived need to be included in the process. Inclusivity through using specific names can be more destructive than empowering or reconstructive. Since the main objective of the monuments is to reconcile, it is important for the ex- combatants to take part in the processes as a gesture of remorse.

In the violent situation of the East Rand the perpetrators were often also the victims and vice versa.

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These two organisations' joint participation in the Thokoza monument helped them to own-up and condemn the atrocities they caused during the violence. For Ntshangase of the IFP to refer to the SDUs as colleagues shows that they had accepted their role in the monument process as a true act of apology. Obviously, however, a difficult of mediation may lie ahead especially when the victims of the ex-combatants are also included in the process.


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Despite this a successful monument process would include all these role players. The monument projects in the divided communities can be a conflictual process. The conflict starts right from the conceptualising stage. For instance in Thokoza, Mojapelo mentioned that during the initial stage of the monument, the former conflicting groups, the SDUs and SPUs seemed to have a problem when the names of their victims were to be mixed on one monument.

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In similar vein, the Alberton mayor Maseko pointed out how in the beginning of her Council had to send back both the SDUs and the SPUs to go and resolve their differences before they could talk to them about the site to build a monument. These conflicts plague every stage of the process up to the completion of the project about who should take the credit. This was evident in Thokoza where the unveiling ceremony was postponed four times following the disagreements in the leadership about who among them should speak during that event.

Theron the leader of the displacees argues that the unveiling on the 17 October could not occur because Khumalo was not afforded a slot in the programme to talk on behalf of the community. Clearly, therefore, monuments can be a conflictual process. Third parties such as mediators, facilitators, etc. A foundation of reconciliation also needs to be in place to minimise conflict that may arise during the process.

Political parties can play a vital role in the process of a monument. In many communities mentioned above political parties played key roles to ensure that monuments were built in the first place. The danger of the involvement of the political parties is that often they are tempted to use the community projects to advance their party political interests.

A good example can be seen in the Thokoza project where the unveiling was postponed on several occasions to accommodate the ANC- IFP political interests. It may be advised to initially include political parties as equal stakeholders so they can play a role, but that their power can also be balanced by other stakeholders, particularly the community members.

The business donors assist financially in the projects. In some cases such as Thokoza, Mojapelo assisted in the building of the monument as donor and leader. She estimated her financial contribution to the value of R57 The donors with their financial contribution and influence can threaten others without those facilities in the monuments.

For example in Thokoza, certain sectors of the community who claim to have started the project felt that Mojapelo's influence was too great and that she was putting her self too much in the spotlight. Preferably these should be local business who have an interest in sustained peace. Like with politicians they should be included as equal stakeholders to balance their power but ensure their involvement.

Research organisations are generally welcomed in the communities to capture history in the making. However, sometimes the good work of the research organisations could lead to disagreements in the communities.

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For example, after the research that was conducted by the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation CSVR on the Thokoza Monument, they hosted a public seminar to discuss the findings. That seminar led to some stakeholders complaining that the organisation was taking sides for failing to invite them to the seminar.

According to Theron, the Displacees Committee only heard about that seminar from their members who visited Khulumani a victim support organisation sharing the offices with CSVR during the day of the seminar. It is important for the research organisation to be very sensitive when conducting research in divided communities for not being viewed as taking sides. However, there is a clear need for proper evaluation of the successes and failures of community reconciliation initiatives done through ethical bodies that maintain communication links within communities on their findings.

Information sharing mechanisms between monument processes i. This is a role for research organisations to fulfil. Monuments as symbols of reconciliation are unique initiatives toward reconciliation in communities which are divided by violent conflict. In all the communities under review a question of remembering the victims served to bring the survivors together in confronting the events of the past.

Through the monuments the communities accepted collective responsibility for what took place. Through taking collective responsibility these communities started to engage in a transformation of collective identity and building new values for dealing with conflict. Divided communities such as Thokoza, for example, needed an appealing symbol of unity as there was no clear winner in their conflict.

The symbols involved should not involve any element of victory by one side for it could simply loose its objective if this is the case. Collective ownership is significant to the process of reconciliation because both the perpetrators and victims and local community and business people are together in one voice and the same tone of the message to remember all those who died as heroes of the war.

The monuments could also serve to undermine issues such as ethnicity or political divides by inclusive processes which are undertaken leading to the building of a monument. In this case the Thokoza participatory process served as a good example.

Of course, monuments, if misused, could be used to symbolically undermine the other and entrench exclusive ethnicity. The Thokoza Monument Foundation was a ground- breaking initiative for having involved the community in the process of gathering the names of the victims. Furthermore, the issue of listing names in Thokoza served as consolation and compensation to families whose children have disappeared and had applied as victims to the TRC, but been rejected for various reasons.

For such families, seeing the name of their children on the monument can be validation of their sacrifice. Generally, the monuments could be perceived as physical symbols of a commitment to peace. In discussion about the Thokoza monument, the former violence-displaced residents of the notorious section of Phenduka said, "we don't want to move again, this monument will make peace". Nonetheless, the monuments and other forms of symbolic reparations cannot alone be a sufficient condition for reconciliation.

Rather they should be regarded as part of the process towards reconciliation and in some cases dependent upon a certain foundation of reconciliation already been established. Their role must never be exaggerated by those who want to escape their responsibilities to discharge other forms of reparations to help the process of reconciliation to proceed. This danger of over-emphasising the importance of symbolic reparations was evident when victims rejected proposals by the ruling party ANC in its tactics to avoid financial obligations as recommended by the TRC to victims.

Some victims were angered by comments by the ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe that you cannot attach monetary value to suffering. Reconciliation can never be reduced to collective symbols. There was another example in Thokoza, one mother who submitted the names of her two children that had been killed to the monument list, stated that, though it was important for her to remember her children through the monument, their deaths had left her without anyone to assist with paying basic expenses like rent. Clearly, reconciliation is multifaceted.


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For some the rifts of the past can start to be healed through a symbolic financial contribution, and yet for others prosecutions of those guilty for violence is the only way to re-establish a sense of justice and ultimate reconciliation. What this paper does show, however, is that there is a place for monuments in this process. A careful managed and inclusive monument process, despite the conflicts that will arise, can only but move the previously conflictual parties down the road to reconciliation.

Sam Theron 21 January Thokoza. Tebogo Nchike 25 February Thokoza. Wilson Ntshangase 4 March Alrode. John Wilman 12 February Alberton.

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