The Battle against Forgetting: human rights and the unfinished business of the TRC

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

- Milan Kundera

The issue of justice is vitally important in societies in transition. How do societies where human rights violations were perpetrated in the past move forward to a new future that will allow for reconciliation and transformation?

SAHA conceives human rights education as a meaningful way to move towards reconciliation, continuing the work of the TRC, which remains largely unresolved. SAHA has thus designed this educational resource booklet as a way of helping educators and learners engage with key concepts related to the TRC, including reconciliation, transformation, justice, forgiveness and reparation.

The booklet emerged out of a series of workshops that took place between February and March 2011 that explored these issues. The booklet is replete with rich archival sources from numerous collections housed by SAHA, including rich art / memory materials produced by members of the Khulumani Support Group, the Zapiro TRC Cartoon Collection, the Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP) Collection, as well as relevant news articles. It is thus geared towards enriching the South African curriculum related to South African history and human rights education.

The booklet is based on a SAHA exhibition, first displayed at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg in December 2010. The development of the exhibition, the associated workshops, and the production of this booklet was made possible through financial support from the Foundation for Human Rights and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

The booklet can be freely downloaded by registered users. However, owing to the large sizes of files, the booklet has been split up into ten sections.


Reparations and Pardoning the Past? - part 1 (3.25MB)

Reparations and Pardoning the Past? - part 2 (3.58MB)

10 Months Pregnant with a Child Called ‘Unfinished Business'(1MB)

Opening the Archive - part 1 (4.75MB)

Opening the Archive - part 2 (3.45MB)

The SAHA / SABC Truth Commission Special Report Product and TRC Posters (1MB)

Zapiro: Truth in Jest - part 1 (3.48MB)

Zapiro: Truth in Jest - part 2 (3MB)

APPENDIX: Teaching the TRC (1.3MB)