Leadership for transformation conference

African Broadband Revolution 2005- 6 to 8 April 2005, Johannesburg SA

The truth shall bring you closer

Published: 30-AUG-04

Few countries have confronted their past as directly and thoroughly in an effort to shape their future as has South Africa. Painful though the process has been, however, it has paved the path to democracy.

The foremost attempt to heal apartheid-era rifts was the truth and reconciliation process, supervised by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

American author and academic Jim Gibson uses the TRC as a springboard to pose a central question to his readers: has truth led to reconciliation in South Africa? The short answer is yes

� but Gibson�s findings reveal as much about the process of reconciliation as they do about the nature of contemporary South Africans and their relationships to each other.

The theme running throughout Gibson�s work is that, despite a devastating history, truth has indeed led to reconciliation in South Africa - a finding which is something of a miracle itself. That�s not to say there�s not still work to be done, says Gibson:

�Unless South Africans can agree to get along and refrain from killing each other, democracy in the country will fail.� Fortunately, his findings support the theory that South Africans, have, indeed, followed the trail from truth to reconciliation. Of course, the entire notion of reconciliation has immense ramifications for the rest of Africa. Gibson says Africa can draw two main lessons from South Africa�s TRC process: the even-handedness with which blame was apportioned, and the levels of communication surrounding the process, which allowed even those unaffected by the atrocities of the era to share in the process of transformation and healing.

Gibson�s construct of reconciliation is also extremely relevant to Africa, with its four key pillars of interracial reconciliation, political tolerance, support for the principles (abstract and applied) of human rights, and legitimacy � recognising the authority of major political institutions.

Why did it take an American to write this book? Gibson has long had a fascination with South Africa as what he calls a laboratory for creating democracy in a multi-cultural system. He�s already written a previous book on overcoming intolerance in South Africa, and his next tome, on the land issues hanging over the country, is ready to go to press.

But his current book is more than a regurgitation of the TRC�s findings. In its scope and scrutiny, it provides positive input on the present and extremely clear guidelines for the future.

Furthermore, it makes a major contribution to the literature on transitional justice and conflict resolution.

Overcoming Apartheid: Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation? is written by James L. Gibson and published by the HSRC Press.

It is available from Exclusive Books, at all good bookshops and the online bookshop at www.hsrcpublishers.ac.za. The recommended retail price is R190.00.

Print this page Send this article to a friend

Subscribe now!
Subscribe to Business in Africa magazine now and receive full access to this website.
Find out more...

Special book offer
A new book by Eskom's Reuel Khoza on how to enhance performance of state-owned enterprises.

Buy this book now!

Market news on your cellphone
Get live JSE listed shares, warrants, major indices, brent crude oil, international markets, agricultural futures & daily market analysis via SMS on your mobile.
Find out more...

Energy in Africa
Energy in Africa is an intelligent and in-depth look at how energy impacts people, places, projects, price and development around the African continent. It is the first pan-African bilingual publication in both English and French in Africa, published quarterly.
Subscribe now...

Eskom leaders forum
African business and public sector leaders define and construct a prosperous future for the continent.
Find out more...

Online travel bookings
Planning to travel? Book accommodation in Africa & South Africa here.
Book now...

�Have your say
Chat on the Business in Africa forums with other readers about the issues of the day, affecting Africa.
Post your comment...

Calculate the latest currency rates for Africa and world currencies
Find out more...

Have your magazine delivered via the Web, anywhere in the world, directly to your PC!
Find out more...

Contact us | About us | Newsletter | Subscription centre | Advertising

All material copyright Business in Africa. All rights reserved. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission. Read these terms & conditions. Read our privacy statement and security statement. Powered by Mail & Guardian Online & iafrica.com.