Conference looks at scars TRC didn’t heal

2009-12-04 11:33

Beyond Reconciliation: Dealing with the Aftermath of Mass Trauma

and Political Violence opened on Wednesday at the University of Cape Town.

The three-day conference is set to examine how reconciliation does

not stop when the hearings are over.

Delivering the welcoming speech UCT vice-chancellor Dr Max Price

described the challenges confronting the university that was once celebrated for

its commitment to social justice and attracting activists but which has more

recently been criticised for having “taken a back seat”.

“(UCT) treated the government to a long honeymoon period and didn’t

want to challenge the government we helped put in power. We wanted to be quiet

while it found its feet,” said Price.

Price said though he believed the Truth and Reconciliation

Commission process had been necessary it had “not achieved enough”, and now was

the time to revisit the issues, and UCT’s mission for the next five years should

emphasise the university’s re-entry as an active role-player.

The idea for the conference was triggered by last year’s xenophobic

attacks, which led academics to try make sense of how South Africa, as a society

that eschewed violent ways of resolving conflict in other countries, had arrived

at a national psyche in which it was “okay to burn people alive”.

The conference will comprise a series of discussions looking at

processes of reconciliation in countries suffering complex trauma such as

Rwanda, Australia and Ireland.

– West Cape News

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