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18th Anniversary of the TRC Report: Restorative justice, ongoing protests and #FeesMustFall

Elsie Gishi, a claimant in the apartheid litigation who provided testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Elsie Gishi, a claimant in the apartheid litigation who provided testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Photo by Rita Kesselring

Today 29 October 2016 marks the 18th anniversary of the handing-over of the final TRC report to President Nelson Mandela in 1998. It is a really important day for Khulumani.

In a Standford University Press blog post this week, Rita Kesselring, long-term researcher with members of Khulumani and Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, connects the TRC and its report with current protests in South Africa such as the #FeesMustFall student struggle.

"While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was intended to be a powerful tool for restorative justice, the apartheid past lingers on in today’s South Africa. Being disadvantaged, excluded from access to opportunities, land, and employment is a daily experience for many South Africans.While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was intended to be a powerful tool for restorative justice, the apartheid past lingers on in today’s South Africa. The notion of “the past in the present” suddenly pops up everywhere... The recent rise of South African students... exemplifies this new cry for justice.Students have not protested so loudly and decidedly since the 1976 Soweto uprising. Indeed, this and other apartheid-era protests against minority rule are today drawn on as models for current protests."

In her new book, Bodies of Truth (http://sup.org/books/title/?id=24791) Kesselring offers an intimate account of how apartheid victims deal with the long-term effects of violence, focusing on the intertwined themes of embodiment, injury, victimhood, and memory.

Victims have also confronted an official discourse claiming that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the 1990s sufficiently addressed past injuries. This book shows victims' attempts to emancipate from their experiences by participating in legal actions, but also by creating new forms of sociality among themselves and in relation to broader South African society.

Kesselring asks how victimhood is experienced in the everyday for the women and men living on the periphery of Cape Town and in other parts of the country. She argues that the everyday practices of the survivors must be taken up by the state and broader society to allow for inclusive social change in a post-conflict setting.

Start reading Bodies of Truth » (http://sup.org/books/extra/?id=24791&i=Foreword.html)

 

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