Graça Machel: SA needs healing

2012-10-03 09:01

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.

  • Rinnewien - 2012-10-03 09:14

    She is gracias, charming and elegant! Not ashamed of the fact that she is a woman from Africa by wearing shining nylon wigs and overeating to show her wealth and position. Well done Madame! Your speech was inspiring.

      cathy.dejongh.5 - 2012-10-03 09:30

      "Not ashamed of the fact that she is a woman from Africa by wearing shining nylon wigs and overeating to show her wealth and position" ........uh, care to explain what you mean?

      Rob.Trianglem - 2012-10-03 11:43

      Yet another one blaming it on apardheid!! This place will never heal as we have a cANCer govt.

      sandra.j.rennie - 2012-10-03 14:14

      This from a woman whose original country is still in tatters ! Mocambique - have those people been healed ? Still dirt poor while her ladyship lives in the lap of luxury. Must give her due though, very clever of her to marry a very old man.

  • themba.maseko.568 - 2012-10-03 09:21

    I have always thought we need programmes to develop our society. This 30 year plan or any other community building programme is really needed. I can never understand the violence, anger, biaseness, narrow mindedness, self righteous, bitterness that has ripped our society. We need to take a step and ask ourselves why and how can we heal our nation. On the issue of textbooks we need to find out exactly what happened. Did the national government allocate enough funds? Did the Limpopo provincial government exceeds it budget? Was the issue with tender irregularities? Etc it is no use to put a blanket blame on government, as this will not avoid similar problems in the future. Let us isolate the real culprit.

      press.enter.12 - 2012-10-03 10:03

      But themba - dont understand your argument - the mess is apparent and no-one other than government was involved in this mess. What more is there to understand in your endevours to find the "real culprit". Denial wont heal our society. Lets place the blame where it belongs and make it stop.

      chilli.stephenson1 - 2012-10-03 12:06

      @alicia.myburgh.65 Maybe you should go to Sudan, Somalia and countries like that. Then you will see greed. The same greed that is happening here. Then you can also see where our beautiful country is headed if we do not get rid of the people who do not want South Africa to be the Beautiful rainbow Nation it could be!

  • Willie - 2012-10-03 09:26

    How many times should we go through this circle of healing.The law needs to be applied regardless.Goverment should take responsibility of all the wrongs in SA

  • Desilusionada - 2012-10-03 09:26

    Ok, so what, the Dalai Lama will now be allowed into South Africa? No more discriminatory laws like EE/BBBEE? The TRC purpose and function will be re-visited? And more publicity given? We will start accepting that Blacks can also be racists? We will stop blaming Apartheid and/or Verwoerd? Imagine if Germany in 1964/1965 still blamed Hitler. And sat on their backsides. There are a lot of people wanting to make South Africa a great place, but I am afraid Ma'am, that you are trying to re-invent the wheel. We will have to wait until "Jesus comes" to get re-started on such a project, which was initiated by your dear husband and screwed up by those after him..........

  • peejay.fabros - 2012-10-03 09:28

    Graca Machel's story really touched my heart. She showcased a very humanitarian attitude, she never treated her humble beginnings a hindrance and that's what I love about her attitude and motivation in life. She truly deserves to be an inspiration in life. I bet she touches yours, too. We featured her here at Isextraordinary....Information with Inspiration

  • mantothieve.missingman - 2012-10-03 09:29

    Educate your voters anc the rest will fall in place !

  • timur.safak - 2012-10-03 09:33

    sa needs the death penalty thats the only language perpetrators will understand.

      mc.segal.5 - 2012-12-10 17:45

      I Also used to be full of s**t until I got one and one only good beating from my father . Spare the rod and spoil the child. Sometimes a good fright will fix the problem.We dont need a Nagasaki Or HiroShima. But we need something quickly.

  • goodguy.buthelezi - 2012-10-03 09:35

    News24 racists and monopoly capital i hope you are listerning!

      mantothieve.missingman - 2012-10-03 10:13

      To what kill the boer ?

  • neil.nicholas.92 - 2012-10-03 09:35

    We have people in powerfull positions inciting violence. They sing songs about killing other race groups, they get involved with strikes and make statements that can only lead to problems. If anything goes wrong they blame the white's and the past.

  • firstseed.mbeva - 2012-10-03 09:39

    I suggest we call that sangoma from Marikana(massacre) to conduct a cleansing ceremony.How about that folks

      mc.segal.5 - 2012-12-10 17:46

      Wot about the bunnies then??

  • sesom - 2012-10-03 09:41

    To get rid of Crime, employ police who know how to fight crime...Not these back-ward idiots...WHO ARE THEMSELVES THIEVES..

  • nicolas.gombert.16 - 2012-10-03 09:41

    I have a lot of respect for Graça Machel and the problem of our violent society should be addressed on multiple levels. Primarily, I believe it is an economic one, where families are broken apart due to economic reasons. To blame the past and to have another TRC will not solve the problem, WE NEED JOBS! Talk shops don't resolve issues, we all know what they are, but mostly we need a government that implements policies to grow our economy. Currently, the number of unemployed, specially the 20-35 year old group,are growing. This group of the population becomes increasingly frustrated and are primarily responsible for violent behaviour. If you have nothing to lose, it makes life very cheap. Grow the economy and stop playing divisive politics!

  • Alice - 2012-10-03 09:41

    Yes Graca SA needs a complete cleansing. You are from Mozambique, please go browse in crime stop site. You will see that 90% of SA crime is committed by foreign nationals, ranging from farm murders, drugs, prostitution brothels, hi-jacking, cellphone killings, ATM bombings, house breaking and theft, armed robberies etc. Why don't you just talk to your ppl who fled Moz to SA to start abiding to our rules and killing innocent SA citizens.

      koos.marincowitz - 2012-10-03 10:57

      Alice, well said !!!!!!

  • koko.sandy.75 - 2012-10-03 09:41

    Madam if u can preach that to ur broers which they follow u to ur inlaws then these crap of killing people( as they shout shoot the big one), eating them for muti,drug manufacturing and bogus doctor who risk our people lives.U lucky u will be respected because of Madiba. take that mother theresa snob to ur roots. therefore when they immigrate they will remember their values.

  • julius.hond - 2012-10-03 09:42

    we need anything other than the ANC.

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-10-03 09:43

    Thank you Mrs Graqa Machel but I believe South Africa is in total downward spiral, and I lay this squarely at the feet of president Zuma, he NEVER speaks out he never condemns. Who knows where he is during the trying times. He never visited the miners when they needed him. Education is in a crisis, has he spoken out noooo! Crime is way beyong curtailment. As long as he can get as much as he can out of the coffers he is happy. He never addresses the nation I think he must visit Mrs Banda in Malawi and learn from her.

  • marius.pienaar - 2012-10-03 09:44

    Yes we need to love one another. Right now.

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-03 09:45

    I know the 'institution' that loves creating problems and division in families.Their fastest reation time for any distress cal is domestic violence,to get an oprtunity to cosy up wid the damsel in distress.They must sort their own corrtption 1st! hypocrites

  • drmichae - 2012-10-03 09:47

    She is spot on, Anger exaggerated by those who feel they have lost control/ power to dectitate/ money. There is so much anger because of an illusion of materialisation, materialisation equates to mamon worship, or moola worship. materialisation is how mortals identify themselves (EGO), instead of them defined as a collective bonded by love.

  • koko.sandy.75 - 2012-10-03 09:51

    U right about the diff that 18yrs to 45yrs is a huge gap that SA can be regarded as a healthy nation especially if we still have these witties who regard themselves as angels as if their forefathers were holy.they never comment about those evil things and criticise the way service delivery was handle,school books,untarred roads and the rest. Now section 27 has a decency of commenting on books/water. Sa will be a better place if they stop these nonsense of judging others.

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-10-03 11:45

      You're obviously a racist, but besides that, please start studying world history going back as far as you can. Learn how the world worked, what nations did, how they acquired land (and indeed how the African nations/tribe acquired land as well), the inventions and discoveries etc etc. With this knowledge you will be able to make educated comment instead of your ignorant racist garbage.

  • Mike Peach - 2012-10-03 09:57

    Here we go again.......

  • goodguy.buthelezi - 2012-10-03 09:59

    Economic Freedom

      jako.merwe - 2012-10-03 10:03

      you will have economic freedom, once you start making money f* get off your arse. damn you people are lazy

  • jaco.human.562 - 2012-10-03 10:01

    BS, Why uis it that the most rape cases are black on black, why is the most murders black on black, why is the most child abuse black on black. Why are there a lot of farm attacks wher the murderers are young blacks younger than 25, not affected by apartheid. IT is this useless cANCer goverment that cannot govern and do not know how to educate the masses. Go back to Mozambique and utter your BS there.

      schmee.gol - 2012-10-03 14:22

      Because there are far more blacks in this country than any other race. Statistically speaking black people are more in contact with other black people and therefore more likely to perpetrate violence on each other.

      lilly.phogole - 2013-02-15 15:35

      Jaco, crime has no colour buti, even whites are killing each other. have you forgotten about Modimolle monster, Mr bladesrunner to name few so buti grow up and stop your race issue the fact of the matter is SA's crime is high and the cause is the imbalances of the past and present.

  • michel.pieterse - 2012-10-03 10:04

    "Machel said 18 years of freedom was not enough time to reverse the serious psychological and emotional damage done to South African society" Exactly what psychological and emotional damage did the apartheid era (because that’s what that statement boils down to) inflict on todays criminals of which majority of them is born post 94 or just before? Sorry but now we are just looking for excuses for the failure of the government. Here is a couple of changes we can make!: 1. Education (lack there off), 2. Employment (lack there off), 3. Racial segregation/discrimination, 4. Fraud. Look I don’t know, my Highest Education is st8, but it does not take a genius to understand that psychology is not going to restore our nation, sure offer it to the people that need it, but stop blaming apartheid for your mistakes, We are all sick of hearing how the apartheid is the route off all evil past and present, the wall you are still hiding behind has collapsed years ago

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-10-03 11:50

      They have to blame something michel. We are not (generally speaking) dealing with a nation that can think rationally or accept blame. It will never be their fault, even 50 years from now.

  • sthembiso.jali.58 - 2012-10-03 10:08

    the solution is simple, bring back the death penalty. most of convicts who were released this year are back in prison- what does that tell u ?

  • Kalari - 2012-10-03 10:18

    Why are people running in the streets RIGHT NOW destroying things and litter the environment. If they want to negotiate why not do it in a civilised manner like all over the world. By using apartheid as the reason for all that is wrong Machel do not have to admit the real reasons. "Thank god we have apartheid to blame and to cover up our own bad behaviour and stupidity"

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-03 10:30

    Ur commens are very insightful and valid Machel.But how can tolerance be practiced wen it is in the genetic blueprint of certain oppressive institutions in this beautiful country,to relentlessly violate and undermine peoples right to life,freedom and the constitution.With there behaviour ul need a TRC every five years!

  • BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-10-03 10:37

    Africa is full of people who talk the talk. Unfortunately we now urgently need leaders who can actually make things happen and not just talk, stop crime and corruption, start channeling Tax money to the correct places and that includes education, services for all, and last but not least, to the poorest in our country. Until that happens, you can blabber as much as you want whilst you and we all know nothing will change.

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-03 10:41

    Mrs Machel ,your respecful husband sat in jail for 27 years because of the oppressive and sadistic nature of that institution,and nothing has changed.Why?Cleanse the root and the tree wil b healthy.

  • al.jarreau.370 - 2012-10-03 11:12

    Yes Madam, you are absolutely correct.First, South African MUST pray and heal the cancer in the cANCer. The only answer, to overpower the ANC is to organize a strong opposite. My suggestion is that all the small parties must united and join to form one large party, (TWO party state). This will enable us to beat the cANCer. Put aside the egos and pride and focus on ONE aspect, which should be, to serve the people of South Africa. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE...AND SOOOONNN !

  • dominique.massonZA - 2012-10-03 11:12

    What a positive message - now to make it happen!

  • ingrid.oberholzer - 2012-10-03 11:30

    Fathers are not taking responsbility of their many many children and the poor granny and single mom has to take care of the children who have no values and don't care what type of crime they commit. Government officials lining their own pockets. So wake up sister 18 years and a totally new generation who did not even know apartheid.

  • sandra.722222 - 2012-10-03 11:51


  • davy.botha - 2012-10-03 12:00

    I have all the respect for Graca Machel and I do also believe that the emotional damage is what is driving this irrational thought lines. The thing is that it should not be a excuse for this behaviour. There should be a voice from the leaders that say hey we as South Africa must make it better but if your leaders pretend to be ideological and ignore what really is required to make this country work because they are afraid to loose there support base then no amount of healing will help because it start with understanding and stating the problem!

  • Mike Peach - 2012-10-03 12:03

    Jaco and it was like that long before the white man set foot here and developed this country which was one of the best in the world even with all the sanctions back then.

  • jaco.human.562 - 2012-10-03 12:10

    How long did it take the Afrikaner to work themself up after the 2nd Anglo Boer war? Did we sreal, did we rape, did we murder, did we toi toi, did we blame Britain. No NO NO, we worked hard, even though it was for a minimal wage, we were not allowed to speak Afrikaans in schools. We learned, worked and educated ourselves. Were we are today is because we worked for it, we did things for ourselves. Stop looking for the reasons of this barbaric attacks on other people in the apartheid era, yes there were many wrongs, but it is 18 years later. Stop taking about the past, it is history, start looking at the future and prepare yourselves to be usefull citizens. You will only achieve it if you work hard and and maintain a high moral stand.

  • johan.jacobs.5680 - 2012-10-03 12:12

    Couldn't agree more. The ANC injured the country badly.

  • mzondistanley - 2012-10-03 12:15

    It is a Hard Fact!! There is too much agitation of Violence and Killing by even so called popular Politicians!!! This is time for economic immancipation of South Africa as a Nation!! Even Media Barons are Involved in the Abuse of their Influence through frequent coverage of People who agitate Violence as a means to an end!! Wake up South Africa time for fighting in order to achieve economic rights is over!! Demonstrate peacefully!!

  • john.cryink - 2012-10-03 12:39

    graca tell us about your exploits in Mosambique was over a million blown up with samora's land mines. Re-education camps. No opposition parties allowed. How old were the youngest(were they children?) fighting for frelimo. graca tell us about the bad of frelimo you were there.

  • luke.dekoker - 2012-10-03 14:09

    O-yes another blame on apartheid. "18 years of freedom was not enough time to reverse the serious psychological and emotional damage done to South African society" what a joke? Howmany more years do you need to to take the animal out of the ones (born after 1994) who commit most of the crimes?? Grow up or creap deaper into tutu's behind so that we don't have to hear from you racists again.

  • koko.sandy.75 - 2012-10-03 14:17

    lol plumpudding, haahahah, what a stupid referal to make, how bull the world works, land taken blabla. maybe u had to go recheck that history for u own empty ignorent thick skull of yours.

  • schmee.gol - 2012-10-03 14:17

    "Our societal interactions are, in many cases, that of accusing one another [and] blaming one another." Why is she doing the same by blaming it on apartheid? How about perpetrators taking responsibility for their actions. But I do agree with her that we needs something similar to the TRC to help perpetrators to understand the hurt they are causing. Although sadly it won't help with everyone.

  • mathivha.obert - 2012-10-03 14:30

    Mrs. Machel-Mandela has just eloquently defined South Africans at their own best, she couldn't have mastered the words defining who we are at the current moment than she just did. It is really up to societal leaders, particularly priests & politicians to urgently attend to matters that divides us so much - it starts with everybody, all citizens not only the branches of the ANC demanding & influencing the emergence of better leadership in Mangaung 2012 ANC Conference. Perceptions can be very dangerous & there is no doubt that one section of our society see the ANC as having betrayed the needs & aspirations of the black majority while another section is loosely bitter for apartheid to have gone & blame ANC for all societal ills & seek to attribute that to incapacity to govern. These contradictions continuously feed into anger & really makes mockery of TRC & the obligation imposed by the constitution to "heal the divisions of the past". This has been more symbolic than real as racial tensions and dividing line stubbornly persist

  • vlammie.pilot - 2012-10-03 14:39

    Apartheid never happened, the anc fabricated the apartheid propaganda in order to maim and kill and steal. I see 1000's of happy blacks everyday. The strikes are instigated by the zim yoof league / illegal immigrants. There is no apartheid suffering. The only suffering now is what the anc has caused. Bad schools, corrupt government, tribalism and racial hatred as instigated by this mozambiqian mongrel who never suffered one day. Go take care of Madiba, the only respected black man in the world.

  • mathivha.obert - 2012-10-03 14:56

    Mrs. Machel-Mandela has just eloquently defined South Africans at their own best, she couldn't have mastered the words defining who we are at the current moment than she just did. It is really up to societal leaders, particularly priests & politicians to urgently heed her advise - it must also start with all citizens not only the branches of the ANC demanding & influencing the emergence of servant & humbled leadership of integrity in Mangaung 2012 ANC Conference. Perceptions & stereotypes can be very dangerous & there is no doubt that one section of our society see the ANC as having betrayed the needs & aspirations of majority yearning to tase the fruit of freedom while another section is loosely bitter for apartheid to have gone, see no better future under ANC & blame ANC for all societal ills. These contradictions continuously feed into anger & really make mockery of TRC & the obligation imposed by the constitution to "heal the divisions of the past" than just symbolic gestures than real as racial tensions and dividing lines stubbornly persist unhindered

  • njdejager - 2012-10-03 15:35

    Dear Graca, this country need new leadership and a whole lot of miracles. ANC is not one of those miracles though.

  • wandile.ncobela.9 - 2012-10-03 16:41

    After i read this article, it is quite clear that no matter how we want to prosper, there will always individuals who will oppose that. In South arica if we not careful, we will turn our country of hope into ungovernable. People are seeking for TRC so we can move forward instead of bringing the past issues, some are against it. I now began to wonder, is it because the black woman has suggested that or is it bcos some people like our current states? She is raising a good opinion, but some are against. On these comments you can makes jokes, said things that are not contributing in building a health nation(countr). at the end think of this as a parent who wants to create a health safe environment for his/her future generation. How can your child live in peace and harmony if we as their parents are pepetrating violents. No greater the words to express my feelings on this, but RSA needs to heal, that we can achieve if we work together, not saying this one is black or white, let build a country we can all be proud off. We once know SA as a good example in peace keeping in our continents, yet all those efforts we shove them down the drain, Thanks Mama Machel, you have raised very important points. I again thank you.

  • wilhelm.snyman - 2012-10-03 19:43

    so who's interested in making SA a modern progressive country? Certainly not the ANC, if the endless scandals and the textbook saga is anything to go by, never mind he gerrymandering of the judicial system which allowed Zuma to become"president". This stampede into primordiality as illustrated by the texbook saga does not bode well. Apartheid has a lot to answer for, but what does it help if the ANC behaves exactly like the Nats did?

  • phillip.marchant.52 - 2012-10-03 20:31

    Ma'am, I have great respect for you, for you are the queen of my king, and I'm thankful that you have him, and he has you. May I ask, however, that you to examine your perception of South Africans, please? You are not from here, and you have not been brainwashed with ANC lying - why do you question the integrity capital of us, by resorting to these tactics, then? Matthews Phoza sprouted forth such a 'gem' recently, saying "the ANC has not done enough to unite people". He wants people to think that the ANC is concerned with uniting the peoples of South Africa, where it is painfully obvious that it is doing everything possible to ensure that unity is something that is ever realised, for reasons that you know. When you say "South Africa needs healing", are you trying to make it sound as if the ANC actually aspired to this notion? Did Marikane appear a healing action to you, Ma'am? What about killing the boer? Or "if you don't vote for Jacob Zuma, we're going to start killing people"? No Ma'am, South Africa needs more than just healing - it needs deliverance from it's corrupt and violent ANC rulers. You cause me to question whether you are your own person, or if someone instructed you to suggest another TRC type commission. Wouldn't the current ANC leadership just love to open those old wounds again! One thing, Ma'am - please don't tell the king. Tell him it's all just been a bad dream, that Helen is ruling, and everything's just fine. Thank you, sincerely.

  • peter.horsfield.35 - 2012-10-09 07:32

    Graca Machel is an inspiration to women of the world for equality and inspiration. Graca thank you for making a strong stand and putting your actions behind your words.. The world is a better place because of what you say and do and you are an integral team member of the Elders.. Thank you for all you do. God Bless You Isextraordinary Information with Inspiration