IJR News

Transitional Justice in Africa Programme – 2009 Regional Consultation

The Transitional Justice in Africa Programme recently hosted the 2009 Annual Regional Consultation in Johannesburg, which brought together civil society organisations (CSOs) partnering with the IJR in eight African countries: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

regional consultation

Fanie du Toit, Tim Murithi (ISS) and Anu Pillay at the regional consultation.

Under the theme of ‘Building Fair and Inclusive Societies in Africa’, the Consultation focused on the role of CSOs in achieving transitional justice in post-conflict societies around Africa.

Around the table, organisations working in different countries shared a number of common challenges, including the difficult balance between punitive and restorative justice initiatives, post-conflict reparations, holding governments to account, gender mainstreaming, and ensuring participatory and inclusive transitional justice and healing processes.

CSOs in many countries have assumed an important role as intermediaries between communities and government in spite of some political resistance. However, many also suggested that strengthening their work will require visionary leadership, good internal governance, and capacity for strategic planning and monitoring and evaluation. Further, participating organisations committed to more collaboration and resource-sharing to bring about more effective civil society transitional justice initiatives across the continent.

Oral history in action in Cradock

Over the course of this year, the IJR Reconciliation and Reconstruction Programme has launched a new oral history methodology, which explores the contours of reconciliation in various community contexts in South Africa. Entitled Building Blocks for Democracy, the new series is currently being used in Cradock in the Eastern Cape: a stronghold of anti-apartheid resistance and a ‘liberated zone’, which bore the brunt of brutal attacks by the apartheid state in the 1980s.

Starting off the training was IJR founding member Nyameka Goniwe, whose husband Matthew was part of the local leadership cadre, and was slain by security police in 1985. Goniwe took the lead in exploring how local residents, traumatised by violence, racism and division, could embark on a journey of community healing.

Grade 11 learners from four high schools participated in workshops on oral history methodologies, photo-narratives, interviewing, short film production, archive development and writing. Their curiosity was piqued as they gained new perspectives on Cradock’s history, events and local personalities. Educators also had the chance to participate in an empowering learning process.

In addition to new skills, learners also produced new knowledge about Cradock’s past, and began to see older community members in a new light: as activists and witnesses to Cradock’s momentous past.

Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer

The Political Analysis and Transitional Justice in Africa programmes have begun collaboration on a new project: the Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer. The IJR has conducted the South African Reconciliation Barometer – which measures public opinion on issues of reconciliation, social cohesion, democracy and governance – since 2003. Earlier this year, the Institute entered into a partnership with the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) in Kigali, which will see the cooperative development and roll-out in the coming months of a new barometer survey specific to the Rwandan context fifteen years after the 1994 genocide.

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