The dignity of the state capture commission has been held up by Zondo's personal approach. Even the most reluctant witness could not gather the rudeness to withdraw.
Dr. Alec Boraine, TRC deputy chairperson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Chairperson) at a TRC hearing. (Photo by Gallo Images/Business Day/Lori Waselchuk)
Multimedia · User Galleries · News in Pictures
Send us your pictures · Send us your stories
The lack of urgency by all role players to transform South Africa on all levels has led to an alarming increase in divisions within our society between rich and poor, different race groups, leadership and the people, writes Christo Thesnaar.
In his inauguration
speech on May 10, 1994, former president Nelson Mandela stated that "The
time for the healing of the wounds has come". This year, 2019, marks the
25th anniversary of the political settlement in South Africa and
therefore we need to ask if we as a nation have managed to heal the wounds of
the past and deal with the unresolved trauma that has traversed over
gala dinner hosted by the Institute for Healing of Memories at the end of 2018,
Dr Mamphela Ramphele indicated that our democracy remains on shaky grounds.
According to her, we failed dismally to complement our ground-breaking
political settlement of 1994 with what she calls an emotional and
socio-economic settlement. With the phrase "emotional settlement",
she implies the healing of traumas of apartheid and embracing values of Ubuntu,
and with "socio-economic settlement", she suggests the dismantling of
structural barriers to equality in our society.
Walaza, clinical psychologist and former executive director of the Trauma
Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, already alluded to
the impact of past
traumas on black South Africans in the lead-up to the hearings of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) when she referred to the pent-up anger that has
been there for a long time. In the lead-up to the 25th anniversary,
we have seen an increase in anger, violence and vengeance on all levels of our
society regarding basic service delivery, poverty, education, economic freedom,
corruption and so forth.
For the most
part of the past 25 years, the state of the trauma in our country has been
mainly suppressed by the transition process, the democratic elections, the TRC
process, and many political and economic promises. This has literally kept the
trauma in what I want to call a "state of frozenness". The lack of
urgency by all role players to transform South Africa on all levels has led to
a painfully slow process of transformation and an alarming increase in
divisions within our society between rich and poor, different race groups,
leadership and the people, etc. There is, however, a profound danger related to
frozen trauma, as we know that the failure to deal with past traumas could lead
to an eruption of suppressed anger, violence and vengeance.
At the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, President Cyril
Ramaphosa acknowledged the failure of dealing with the traumas of our past. He
indicated that we are in need of a new language to speak about our traumatic
past and that if we do not attend to it, it will continue to impact current and
future generations. He used words such as "hurt", "pain", "woundedness"
and "anger" to voice the trauma experienced by the majority of South
Africans and emphasised social healing. With this new language, he acknowledged
the legacy of generational trauma and pain in our society, mainly caused by an
unjust political system and centuries of colonialism, and how this inheritance
is transmitted to the current generation and will continue to be transmitted to
future generations if we are not able to transform it.
We have to acknowledge that the TRC
was indeed a salient process and after the conclusion thereof it published a
report and numerous recommendations for healing our nation. The government and
other role players such as faith communities clearly neglected to take adequate
responsibility for attending to the recommendations, be accountable
to the nation for the implementation and to ensure that justice is done by
transforming our political, economic and social society during the last 25
It is clear that we cannot afford
to continue to ignore the unfinished business of healing our nation. We have
already seen all the signs and symptoms of multi-generational and multi-layered
frozen trauma that has begun to erupt in our society.
example, the intense reaction to the
publication of four researchers from Stellenbosch University who purported to
demonstrate that "coloured" women have lower cognitive development
than the rest of humanity, as well as the fact that the study was even
attempted, again confirmed the impact of the trauma of apartheid on our
What is needed is a collective
attempt by all sectors of the society to take responsibility, be accountable to
and ensure that justice is done to all in this country, given our history. In this regard, we need to embrace the values
of Ubuntu and mutual recognition and consciously move away from individualism
need to realise that we are in relation with each other; we need each other to
develop a language to voice the past traumas in order to deal with it. In this
way, we learn to live with discomfort because the discomfort of the injustice
of the other has alerted us to the need to address those injustices. We as the
addressed generation, 25 years on, will need to live in divine discomfort, a phrase
used by French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, so that we are able to indicate
our responsibility, accountability and commitment to face, deal and address the
injustices caused by the traumas of past and current generations. The fact that the injustices we
remember and see cause discomfort shows that we as a nation are human and ethical.
With this in
mind, it is not too late to pick up the baton and continue with the process of
healing our nation as the addressed generation so that we do not dump our
unresolved traumas on the next generation. But, because of our responsibility
to the next generation we need to ensure that we are continuously disturbed by
the traumas of others and it should cause us real discomfort so that we can
address the injustice. In this way, the light can start to break through the
frozen and erupted trauma.
Christo Thesnaar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Practical Theology
and Missiology at Stellenbosch University (SU). This article is based on his
recent inaugural lecture at SU.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
Volkswagen‘s double cab, the Amarok, is now available in a special edition.
Craig Anderson a lecturer in Statistics answers how likely this is to happen.
You don't even have to break the bank to enjoy a friction-free summer.
Here's how the five best-paid Formula 1 drivers in 2019 justify their earnings.
In case you’re having a bad day.
Automobili Lamborghini celebrated Monterey Car Week with an array of supercars.
The island of Curaçao!
An authentic display of gravitas and empathy.
Somerset WestFinovate PeopleR15 000.00 Per Month Per Month
Cape TownTracking Talent
Cape TownAmazon Development Centre SA (Pty) Ltd
R 2 495 000
R 11 800 000
We subscribe to the Press Code.
You choose what you want
News24 on Android
Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.
Terms and Conditions
24.com Terms and Conditions - Updated April 2012
Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.
This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.