Reconciliation Award

Since 2000, the IJR has recognised exceptional and extraordinary contributions to reconciliation and nation-building in South Africa.

The prestigious annual IJR Reconciliation Award honours those who, in their daily lives and ongoing work, have enabled South Africans from diverse backgrounds to begin living together with respect, dignity and in pursuit of the common good.

Together, they symbolise a society that promotes debate and active engagement, social justice, and tolerance.

Reconciliation Award recipients are profiled below, and further information about nominations and selection can be obtained from the IJR.

2009 Reconciliation Award: Albie Sachs

Albie Sachs is a lifelong activist and former constitutional court judge, and was granted the 2009 Reconciliation Award ‘for realising reconciliation through his life and work’. His human rights activism began in 1952, when as a 17-year old law student, he joined the Defiance of Unjust Laws campaign. Later, as a practicing lawyer he was subjected to frequent raids and banning orders, and endured 168 days of solitary confinement before going into exile in 1966. Upon returning to South Africa in 1990, Sachs devoted himself to preparing for a new democracy, as a founding author of the constitution and post-apartheid jurisprudence, and through his pivotal role in the development of the Constitutional Court.

2008 Reconciliation Award: The Shine Centre

The Shine Centre is a non-governmental organisation based in Cape Town, which provides early interventions and support to primary school learners experiencing difficulties with language and reading. Literacy support is provided by a corps of trained volunteers, many of whom are retired teachers and professionals. Shine fosters reconciliation through contact between volunteers and learners, but also contributes to longer-term prospects for increased equality and inclusivity through education.

Read an interview with the founders of the Shine Centre here, or visit their website or blog.

2007: The community of Masiphumelele

For setting a example in promoting tolerance towards foreign nationals, and in striving to ensure dignity and justice for all in their community

2006: Ouma Grietjie Adams

For holding the community together in mourning, conflict and celebration

2005: Brigalia Bam

For her role in enabling peaceful democratic elections

2004: Mary Burton

For her work in the Black Sash and elsewhere

2003: Dullah and Farieda Omar

For their contribution to the Truth and Reconciliation process

2002: PJ Powers and Sibongile Khumalo

For singing one another’s songs

2001: Pieter Dirk Uys

For enabling us to laugh at ourselves

2000: Tim Modise

For getting the nation talking

Masiphumele, meaning “let us succeed together”, was established in the late 1980’s – a small township in which residents defied forced removals in the southern Cape peninsula. Despite poverty, high unemployment, HIV/AIDS and a host of other challenges, the community has adopted a collective approach to addressing these together. In 2006, Masiphumelele residents established a dialogue forum to resolve emerging conflict between local and foreign business owners in the community.

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