Graça Machel: SA needs healing

2012-10-03 09:01
Graca Machel (File, AFP)

Graca Machel (File, AFP)

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Graca Machel delivers lecture

2012-10-03 09:19

Graca Machel delivered the second annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture on Tuesday. She called for social movement to heal South Africa's pain. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - Renowned women and children’s rights advocate Graça Machel called for a rethink on Tuesday about how to tackle the high levels of violence in South African society.

Delivering the second annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the University of the Western Cape, the wife of former president Nelson Mandela said apartheid had left many psychologically and emotionally scarred.

"The issue is: Why are we having hundreds and thousands of cases where we hurt one another, we humiliate one another, and we try to dehumanise one another?" she told her audience, to loud applause.

Machel said 18 years of freedom was not enough time to reverse the serious psychological and emotional damage done to South African society.

"Families have been torn apart for at least three generations."

Anger, aggression

Many people had grown up in "torn" and dysfunctional families.

"They carry with them this emotional mutilation," she said.

Others had difficulty communicating in a smooth, peaceful and accommodating manner.

Machel, who turns 67 in the next fortnight, said there was a lot of anger and aggression in the way people communicated.

"Our societal interactions are, in many cases, that of accusing one another [and] blaming one another."

Referring to the high incidence of rapes of women, children and the elderly, she called for "a vision of how to build a healthy society".

Machel suggested the country needed an institution similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to solve the problem.

"[At the TRC] perpetrators and victims had to face the painful truth. I think we need something like that."

Restoring society

She also called for a 30-year national plan, spanning a generation, to help restore society.

This should involve men, women, the youth and religious institutions, and should be backed by academic research, she said.

The first Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture was delivered last year by the Dalai Lama.

According to the event's organisers, it is an opportunity to "take stock of critical issues to the sustainability of our species".

Among her other commitments, Machel is a member of the international group The Elders, she is a board member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation Fund, and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

She married Mandela in 1998.
Read more on:    uwc  |  graca machel  |  desmond tutu  |  cape town

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