29 May 2009

NMF / RLF / SAHA Dialogue Forum.

South Africa has received praise from around the world for the way in which it has dealt with its oppressive past. Its post-apartheid governments have insisted on the making of a future through intense engagement with memory of the colonial and apartheid eras. Memory work has ranged from the endeavour of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to the flowering of new museums and archives, from the investigations underpinning the land restitution process to the writing of new histories for schoolchildren, from the research supporting special pensions and the location of missing persons to the use of freedom of information instruments by civil society.

It is time to ask searching questions of this post-apartheid memory work. How effective has it been? Is the assumption of exemplary status for South Africa in dealing with its oppressive past justified? Has the springboard constituted by the TRC been utilised adequately by structures of the state and of civil society? There are signs that the work of reconciliation in South Africa has only just started. Old social fissures remain resilient. New ones are appearing. Social cohesion is proving elusive. Could it be that our post-apartheid memory work has been too superficial? And that the really difficult memory work remains to be done?

On the 2nd and 3rd April 2009, The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African History Archive, in partnership with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, are convening a dialogue forum at which prominent public intellectuals will be examining issues of justice, power, race and rights as it relates to memory work in South Africa. For more information, please see visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation site at http://www.nelsonmandela.org/index.php/news/article/have_we_dealt_with_our_apartheid_past