The Role of Culture in the Process of Reconciliation in South Africa

The Role of Culture in the Process of Reconciliation in South Africa

Mda, Z. (1994). The Role of Culture in the Process of Reconciliation in South Africa. Paper presented at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Seminar No. 9, 30 November.

 

Presenter: Zakes Mda

Zakes Mda has written articles and publications on a range of subjects such as politics and the theatre, the role of the visual arts in changing societies, politics and literature, art and popular theatre and poetry in the townships.

Date: 20 February 1995

Venue: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Johannesburg, South Africa

Broadly speaking, culture refers to a people's way of life. This includes their perceptions and actions that distinguish them as a people, or identify them as distinct from others. A culture derives its qualities from the political and economic conditions that exist in society. At the same time a culture determines the regeneration of these conditions.1

In South Africa, a society which has been, for centuries, characterised by racial segregation, political oppression and economic exploitation, culture has always played a role, both to reinforce these conditions and to challenge them. In this brief presentation, I shall attempt to show how the products of our culture, with particular emphasis on theatre, have responded to these conditions, and how they can continue to play a meaningful role in the new order.2

I must mention that in no way am I trying to be prescriptive in my observations or even assertions. Suggesting that the arts have a role to play in transformation does not mean we are censoring artistic freedom. Whether we like it or not, the artists will always respond to the prevailing political and social conditions, because they select their material from society. They do not create their works about something out there … something that is divorced from their day-to-day reality. Politics is part of their intimate daily experience, and for better or for worse politics will feature in their works.

When the predominant political culture was that of resistance, the art that was created reflected that situation. Not only did it reflect it, but it rallied both its producers and its consumers around issues of resistance. Now that the culture being cultivated by the dominant political structures is that of reconciliation, the arts will play a role in reflecting that situation, and in mobilising people for reconciliation. The point that I will make, therefore, in this presentation is not whether we should have a Theatre of Reconciliation or not. Such theatre already exists. Artists in all fields are already creating an art of reconciliation without anyone prescribing to them to do so. Singers like Vusi Mahlasela are singing songs of reconciliation, and poets like Mzwakhe Mbuli are talking the language of reconciliation in their performances. And these were artists who were in the forefront of the resistance culture. What I will be attempting to do, therefore, is to critically evaluate some of this art, using theatre as an example, and suggest how this art may be reinforced and may be made more meaningful.

The notion of the arts playing a role either in socialisation or transformation is not a new one in Africa. In precolonial Africa art did not only "mean" it also "functioned". This was before its commodification which came with westernisation. Art was part of the common festival, and all members of the society, among other activities, participated in its production and enjoyment. Some of this art reinforced the values of the society, and socialised the young into the culture of the people. An example of this was the narrative theatre that was performed by a single actor who assumed the different roles of all the characters in the play, which was known as inganekwane by AmaZulus, intsomi by AmaXhosa, and tshomo by Basotho. This mode had highly developed dramatic elements.

Each ethnic group throughout the continent had its own artistic modes that ranged from secular performances to religious ritual. Some of this work marked the transitions that happened in a person's life, from birth through initiation into adulthood, and through marriage, to death. The pitiki theatre of rebirth of the Basotho and its ditolobonya dance is one such performance mode.

Some of this art was critical of some of the values and norms of society, and indeed of the ruling classes and their ideology. The panegyrics known as dithoko in Sesotho or izibongo in isiZulu did not only praise the ruling classes, but also criticised those actions of theirs which were not deemed to be in the interest of society – rendering the panegyric label a misnomer. Among the BaPende the Mbuya Masks performed satires that ridiculed those members of the community who, in the view of the artist, deserved to be lampooned. This indigenous theatre did not strive for political meaningfulness or profundity, which made it a more potent vehicle of transformation. It critically depicted the lives of the people, using those theatrical and linguistic codes that were commonly shared by the rest of the community.

Most of these modes are extant in their original form, especially in the rural areas of Africa, although in many cases the content will reflect the power relations in today's rural world. Some exist in a syncretic form, incorporating modes which came with colonisation. Popular theatre practitioners today, especially those who use their theatre as a medium for development communication or as a vehicle for transformation, are increasingly using these modes in the works that they create with communities in the marginalised rural areas and urban slums. Their work is not an attempt to reinvent a buried pre-colonial national identity, as some critics have contended, or to reconstruct the forms that pre-colonial popular theatre took, which would inherently be a reactionary and conservative act. They are not claiming a pre-colonial authenticity that is lost, by putting new content in archaic forms. Rather, they are using indigenous modes of cultural expression that are currently popular throughout Africa. They are injecting new content in current popular forms, some of which have evolved or have been syncretised from the pre-colonial forms. These are forms of artistic expression with which the people are most familiar, since they are part of their everyday experience. They are consistent with the oral traditions that are so popular both in the urban and rural areas of Africa and its diaspora. They are therefore effective carriers of political and social messages, and can play a role in reconciliation, in the same way that they played or could have played a role in resistance.

I mention these oral traditions which are part of popular culture in this country because normally when we talk of culture or of art we are looking at it only from the perspective of those modes which are produced and enjoyed by us, the national elites. We are looking at that art which uses conventions that can be interpreted by the intellectuals, and we forget that ours – meaning the black and white elites – is a minority culture. The culture of the majority is marginalised in the process.

Before we can understand how theatre can function in the service of reconciliation, it is important to understand how it has functioned before on other issues pertaining to the political life in South Africa. I shall therefore, very briefly, outline the more recent history of South African theatre, and relate it to the political discourse of the time.

In the 1960s, after the ANC and the PAC were banned by the Nationalist Party government, there was a lull in the political activities in South Africa – among the oppressed majority, that is – while the liberation movements were regrouping and reorganising in exile. The only politics that was sanctioned by the government was that which pertained to the unpopular advisory boards, and to the embryonic Bantustans that were being established in the grand scheme to denationalise the indigenous people of South Africa. At that time the only dissenting voice that could be heard speaking on behalf of the indigenous people internally, through the media and the platform of parliament, was the liberal voice of organisations such as the Liberal Party and the Progressive Party. At university campuses we had the National Union of South African Students, which also was of the liberal tradition, and took it upon itself to articulate the grievances and aspirations of the black people.

A parallel situation was also developing in the arts during this period. The only theatre that was overtly political in South Africa came from the liberal pen of Athol Fugard. Fugard, in fact, introduced political theatre in the western mode in South Africa. I stress "in the western mode" because I have already illustrated that indigenous performance modes often served a political function.

At this time in the black communities throughout South Africa the dominant mode was the Township Musical Theatre. This, as the name implies, was rooted in the townships, and rarely emerged from them. The major practitioner of this genre was Gibson Kente who, since 1960, created plays that were performed by his travelling company even in the smallest towns of South Africa and neighbouring states such as Swaziland and Lesotho. This theatre was characterised by extensive use of music and dance. It was very formulaic, and like the European and American melodrama of the 19th century it had its stock characters. It also had its stock events and situations.

The Township Musical Theatre did not deal with overtly political themes, until the mid-seventies when Kente wrote "How Long", "I Believe", and "Too Late", which dealt mostly with the sensational side of life such as prostitution, adultery, rape, and divorce. These themes were often examined in a simplistic manner, which disregarded causality, and served on the whole to endorse and promote official values. The works generally distinguished themselves by their narrowed and absolutist melodramatic vision.

The Township Musical was truly a popular theatre whose audiences cut across all classes. It was not elitist as theatre has gradually become even in the black community. It was not unusual for a labourer, after digging trenches and building roads for the whole day, to take his wife and children to Diepkloof Hall in the evening to see a Kente play, or a play by Sam Mhangwani or Boikie Mohlamme. And indeed these plays were seen by the majority of the black people for they toured every little corner of South Africa, playing in all kinds of venues: in church halls, in classrooms, and in make-shift structures. A play like Sam Mhangwani's "Unfaithful Woman" ran for more than twenty years. What reinforced these plays' popularity was that they were highly syncretic, using both popular African indigenous modes and western ones.

While the dominant trend in the townships was the Township Musical Theatre, in purpose-built city venues a theatre that was based on traditional western models, or on more experimental international ones, was thriving. It was created by both black and white intermediate classes. It was mostly erudite, and employed theatrical codes that needed a more intellectual interpretation. Its audiences were therefore the national elites.

Unlike the Township Musical which shied away from political themes, this theatre of the city was often political. It was a Protest Theatre. Perhaps it is important here that I explain what I mean by Protest Theatre, because the South African media operate under the misguided impression that all theatre that treats political themes is Protest Theatre. Not all political theatre is Protest Theatre. Least of all, agitprop cannot be protest. That would be a contradiction in terms. Protest Theatre disapprovingly depicts a situation of oppression, but it does not go beyond that. It addresses itself to the oppressor, with the view of appealing to his or her conscience. I have written elsewhere that it is a theatre of complaint, and sometimes even of weeping. It is variously a theatre of self-pity, of moralising, of mourning, and of hopelessness.

The leading practitioner of this political theatre was Athol Fugard whose plays depicted various aspects of segregation in South Africa, such as the Immorality Act in "Statements", racial classification in "The Blood Knot", the various pass and influx control laws in "Sizwe Banzi is Dead" (created jointly with John Kani and Winston Ntshona) and the Group Areas Act in "Boesman and Lena". These plays clearly protest against racial segregation by depicting its inhuman nature. But these works have some prevarications in their depiction of the South African reality. The oppressed suffer in silence, and are not involved in any struggle against oppression. Instead they are involved in a struggle of how to accommodate oppression and survive it, not how to confront it. They are endowed with endless reservoirs of stoic endurance. The spirit of defiance that exists in the real life situation in the South Africa that we all know is non-existent in these works. The oppressed let oppression happen to them, and all they do is moan and complain about it, and devise ways to live with it.

In the mid-1970s black theatre practitioners went beyond protest, a position which was spearheaded by the Black Consciousness movement of the time. This was a period that saw a resurgence of a theatre that was overtly political among blacks, and a gradual movement away from the apolitical township Musical Theatre. The practitioners of this new Theatre for Resistance said that their case against Protest Theatre was that the latter, by its very nature, placed the onus on the blacks to prove their humanity. Whereas Protest Theatre addressed itself to the oppressor with the aim of appealing to his conscience, Theatre for Resistance addressed itself to the oppressed with the overt aim of rallying or of mobilising the oppressed to fight against oppression. The new theatre practitioner was no longer interested in creating a theatre of complaint. Its pioneers were practitioners like Maishe Maponya and Matsemela Manaka who had emerged from township cultural groups. Theirs was an agitprop theatre, for it attempted to propagate a message, and agitate for action on the part of the oppressed to change their own situation. It was a theatre which, at its best, served as a vehicle for sharing perceptions and insights among the oppressed themselves, and more importantly which attempted to alter perceptions. At its worst it became a litany of slogans that denounced the oppressor, and extolled the virtues and prowess of the leaders of the liberation struggle.

In the beginning Theatre for Resistance was performed at weddings and at funerals, at political rallies, in church and school halls in the townships, and in city venues such as the Market Theatre. However, as the genre developed, it gradually moved away from the people. The "resistance" in the plays was only in content and not in function. The opening of city venues took the theatre away from the townships. In the heyday of the Township Musical people in the townships had access to theatre, for it was performed in their midst in the ill-equipped township venues. The irony of it all was that the more the theatre became radical in South Africa, the more it became revolutionary in content, the more it moved away from the people. By 1990 almost all relevant theatre of the Theatre for Resistance category was performed only in city venues, and the audiences were white liberals and a sprinkling of members of the black middle class who could afford to drive to these expensive venues. There were a few groups that would begin their work in the township, but even these aspired to be in the city venues, and would indeed end up there when they received the necessary recognition from the white-managed theatre establishments. The establishments would then redirect these productions, and add the essential slickness, in readiness for the export market. And indeed Theatre for Resistance was highly exportable, and it became the ambition of most playwrights to have a play at the Market, and then of course in Europe and America. Writers wrote purely for export, and designed their plays in a manner which they thought would be acceptable to overseas audiences.

Although I do lament the fact that theatre was taken away from the people, I recognise the fact that productions that were exported did serve the important function of putting South Africa on the agenda abroad. They informed the people abroad about the conditions in South Africa, and rallied for their solidarity. Hence the movement for disinvestment and for the boycott of apartheid South Africa in all aspects of life gained momentum. There is no doubt that the arts, especially theatre, played a very big role in the changes that finally happened in this country, culminating in the establishment of a democratic government of national unity.

Today's discourse is that of reconciliation, and we are keen to see what role the arts are playing or can play in promoting reconciliation There is already a category of theatre that critics have identified as Theatre of Reconciliation. Coleen Angove, writing in an international theatre research journal, says that a Theatre of Reconciliation gives a perspective "in which the reality of a polarised society is defied to present human beings from all racial and cultural groups, communicating, sharing and understanding." She goes further to say that this is not a theatre devoid of fear, insecurity and introspection. It however aims to depict that there are possible solutions to the status quo. "and transcends present reality to display to its audience a potential South Africa."3

In the same way that he pioneered Protest Theatre, Athol Fugard is once again a pioneer of the Theatre of Reconciliation. His play, "Playland". falls within this category.

"Playland" was inspired by a photograph of two white soldiers who were dumping the bodies of Swapo guerrilla fighters from the back of a truck into a mass grave. The play is set in an amusement park in the Karoo, where Martinus Zoeloe is a night (and day) watchman. He is confronted by Gideon le Roux, an ex-soldier of the South African Defence Force who is haunted by the memory of the Swapo soldiers that he killed at the Border. In fact, he is one of the soldiers who were dumping corpses into mass graves. He killed Swapo communists because he believed he was defending his country, and was protecting women and children. He had been hit by conscience at the very moment he was dumping the bodies, and this was exacerbated by the sorrowing presence of a mother who was watching as the bodies were being callously dumped into a big hole in the ground.

The black man, Martinus Zoeloe, also has a murder that haunts him. He killed a white man, his fiancee's employer, who had raped her. He was sentenced to death, and his fiancee to fifteen years. The motive was established as robbery, and therefore there were no mitigating factors. His sentence was however commuted to fifteen years when the deceased's wife came forward and gave evidence to the effect that her husband had raped other servants before. His fiancee was set free, and Zoeloe never saw her again.

Although Martinus Zoeloe paid his debt to society by serving his sentence, he is doomed to eternal damnation because he finds it impossible to be sorry for what he did. He therefore cannot be forgiven by God, for one can only be forgiven when one repents. He finds it impossible to be sorry for what he did, and indeed every night he murders the man over and over again in his dreams. On the other hand the Swapo "terrorists" that Gideon le Roux killed in the operational area haunt his sleep. Unlike Zoeloe, he is sorry for what he did, and he is keen to be forgiven. In fact after dumping the bodies he had looked for the mother who had silently witnessed the dumping, to ask for her forgiveness, but he could not find her. So he demands that Zoeloe should forgive him.

At the end Zoeloe learns that it is futile to harbour hatred for the rest of his life. They both agree to forget the past, to let bygones be bygones, and to start afresh, a new life that is not haunted by the pain of the past. They indeed, in the words of Gideon le Roux, become "buddies".

Athol Fugard says that the play states his innate faith in the fundamental goodness of human nature. He says he believes that if a man is honest enough to confront his soul and ask for forgiveness, a miracle can happen.4

When one samples the reviews of this play, one is struck by the differing perspectives of reconciliation between the black and white critics. You can tell me whether this can be inferred to the population at large. Barry Ronge, who was then working for the Sunday Times, called the play a landmark in the history of South African theatre. It is, he said, the most significant work Fugard has done in decades, and it comes at the time when South African playwrights have been fumbling about, looking for new structures and ideas to express a new society. The play is about redemption and forgiveness, he added, which are quite essential in this time of hatred.5

The unnamed critic of the New Nation saw the play differently. He said that the preoccupation with the issues of forgiveness and reconciliation in recent plays on the South African stage offered short-lived insights limited by sectarian interests. He listed a number of plays on reconciliation, including "Playland", that do not appear to address the crucial issue that justice had to be the basis for any discussion of guilt and atonement. "Playland" particularly, he said, does not contribute to the national debate on justice. Fugard situates the debate at a personal level. It is for his personal peace that Gideon le Roux, the SADF man who fought Swapo and abused black people as a way of life, needs forgiveness. In telling contrast, the critic goes on, the sympathetic black murderer was tried and sentenced for his crime. But there is no suggestion that the ex-soldier should also face the consequences of his crimes. The critic says that the common feature of the Theatre of Reconciliation is its silence on history. It never explains why we need reconciliation, which makes it impossible to answer the question: on whose terms must forgiveness be granted?6

There is no doubt that for this country to survive and prosper, reconciliation is absolutely essential. But true reconciliation will only come when we are big enough to confront what happened yesterday, without bitterness. We cannot just sweep it under the carpet, and hope that all of a sudden we shall live in brotherly or sisterly love, in a state of blissful amnesia. For us who were the victims of this holocaust it is important that we do not forget. We owe it to future generations that what happened to us must never happen again. It must never be repeated, not only by those who oppressed us before, but we ourselves must never assume the new role of the oppressor. We must never forget, but of course this does not mean that we must cling to the past, and wrap it around us, and live for it, and be perpetual victims who wallow in a masochistic memory of our national humiliation. We must get out of that rut, and get on with the business of reconstructing our lives. The future is beckoning.

From what I observe when I read the newspapers and listen to talk shows in the electronic media, our white compatriots seem to find it threatening that we have a memory. They insist that the past must be forgotten. Hence the outcry when the SABC TV1 screened a programme on the history of Soweto recently. Obviously any history of Soweto will show the song and the dance and the vibrant shebeen life. But it will also show the forced removals, the pass raids, the armoured vehicles and the guns mowing little children down. That was what our compatriots complained about. They said, and I quote one caller to a radio talk show, "Every time we mention these things there won't be reconciliation." This means, of course, that we must not have any history. I think that it is arrogant to demand that a people who have gone through so much pain should now force themselves to forget, to erase the experience that has made them into what they are today, and to start life afresh in a vacuum. And many of these people are still reeling from the trauma of apartheid. The pain is still with them. It will be with them for many years to come. The strangest of all things is that the very people who demand our amnesia expect and encourage the Jews to remember, and to build monuments to their holocaust. Yet for us, it is a sin to have a memory.

I am of the view that instead of complaining about cultural products that depict the past, our compatriots should be happy that at last the truth is being revealed to them. Such programmes contribute to reconciliation because they bring awareness to those viewers who were kept ignorant of the real situation of their fellow countrymen and women by the laws of the Nationalist Party government. The government-controlled electronic media attributed the genuine grievances of the black people to communist agitation. Slack opinion was completely marginalised in these media. Even the liberal print media did not feature black people as main characters in the narratives that they created. Blacks only appeared as objects in stories that presented as the subjects white liberal protagonists who bravely fought the apartheid dragon on behalf of black people. Blacks merely became the problem that these media discussed and debated among themselves. And when blacks finally featured, they were placed in some ghetto sections of the newspapers which were referred to as the "Extra" or the "Africa Edition".

In the same way that they never visited the physical ghettoes where black people lived, our white compatriots never ventured into the pages of those ghetto editions of liberal newspapers. So they remained ignorant of our situation, and lived in a fool's paradise that all was well in South Africa, except for the commies who were greedy for our mineral wealth and were therefore instigating the naive blacks – who were in any case better off than all the other blacks of Africa – to bite the hand that was feeding them so well.

A true Theatre of Reconciliation will not shy away from addressing the past. But it will not address the past for its own sake, nor for the sake of feeding the victim syndrome. It will not address the past in order to make our white compatriots lead a constantly guilt-ridden life. It will address the past solely for the purpose of understanding the present. Of understanding why it is absolutely necessary for us to have reconciliation.

Athol Fugard's play masterfully depicts repentance and forgiveness. But these are only two of the ingredients of reconciliation. It forgets to show other important ingredients, namely justice and restitution. Reconciliation is not just "Sorry old chap." It is important that the past is not only addressed. It must be redressed as well. Again here it is with sadness that I observe that any talk of justice and restitution brings about threats that the Johannesburg northern suburbs will flee to the airport.

Tony Leon of the Democratic Party says that we cannot have reconciliation without law and order. He goes further to say action will not solve the problem. Only job creation will. In my view affirmative action and job creation are not mutually exclusive. Affirmative action is part of the restitution I am talking about. Tony Leon cannot tell us anything about affirmative action. We know that it works. We have seen it work. We have first-hand experience of affirmative action, and in our experience it is very effective. It effectively kept us down over the years, and effectively elevated our oppressors to great heights of economic prosperity, since it was indeed in their favour. Mr Leon is quite right about law and order. But unfortunately law and order will be elusive as long as the perception among the blacks is that no justice and no restitution has taken place. Let us move away from the assumption that blacks should be grateful that at last they have been given political rights, and must talk no more of the past, of justice, and of restitution.

Another crucial ingredient of reconciliation is tolerance. Theatre can help to break down stereotypes and generalisations that lead us to discriminate against those who are different from us. We must remember that the reconciliation that we need is not only between blacks and whites. We need reconciliation among all the sectors of the society. Oppression and discrimination have no hierarchy. Racism is just as bad as sexism, or as homophobia, or as ageism. Theatre can therefore make us understand our differences, and can cultivate a new culture of tolerance.

A true Theatre of Reconciliation will not shy away from addressing the violence that has racked and wrecked our country: the verbal and sexual abuse of children, rape, robbery, and spousal abuse. The effects of all this violence are a constraint to reconciliation at all levels. I do not know any black family that has not been touched by this violence. Only last month my ten-year old nephew lost a father and my sister lost a husband, when armed robbers walked into his place of business and shot him in cold blood in the presence of his ten-year old son. Then they demanded money from the little boy, who showed them where it was kept. When they ran out of the shop they were attacked by the residents of the township who instantly killed two of them. The little boy saw all this. What kind of a person is this boy going to be, after seeing these terrible things? Thanks to the Trauma Clinic here at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation the boy is undergoing counselling, and he is very happy with your Michelle.

But the point I am trying to make here is that we have been so desensitised to violence that it is no longer news. This incident received a coverage of only four lines each in the New Nation and the City Press. The latter reported it thus: "On Monday two men were stoned to death at Orange Farm in the Vaal Triangle. Their sin? Their alleged involvement in the shooting of a local shop owner." The New Nation also reported something along those lines. These articles were rightly concerned with the prevalence of jungle justice in the townships. In the process they forgot about the nameless little boy who saw all these terrible things. His case was no news at all. It was so usual that it was the "dog bites man" scenario. Theatre and the other arts can serve the important function of resensitising us to violence and its effects on individuals and families.7

We need to re-examine our society and its values. We need to answer the questions: what kind of a society is this that has turned gang rape into a sport called jackrolling? That has socialised women into a culture of silence, to the extent that they have internalised their oppression, and accept that because they are women men have the right to violate them anyhow they like? That has encouraged a guilt complex in the victims of rape, so that they are ashamed of coming forward to report their ordeal?

In my book, When People Play People8 I discuss a methodology of theatre that encourages the victims to tell their story, to share perceptions (even emotions), and work out their own solutions, from their own perspective, rather than respond to solutions by outsiders. This is a theatre that contributes to the process of healing, for it confronts the pain rather than deny its existence. Its audiences are active participants in the performance, and therefore in creating and distributing their own messages, rather than being mere consumers of messages created by those who are deemed to have superior knowledge. The audiences are transformed into dramatic actors, and the dramatic actors are transformed into social actors.

Finally I want to say that reconciliation can only succeed if there is community dialogue at all levels. And the vehicles of such dialogue are all the products of our culture, both at an interpersonal and at a mass level. You can put us together in one room for years on end, but if there is no dialogue we will continue to be polarised. It is the same polarisation that I have, to my horror, found is prevalent between black and white students at a liberal institution like the University of the Witwatersrand where I am a Visiting Professor. One senses it immediately one enters the classroom. At first I thought I was imagining the resistance that white students seemed to have to being taught by a black teacher. From their remarks I gathered that indeed they resented the African content of the course. The black students then expressed their resentment at the white students' resentment. I was faced with two hostile camps in a classroom of a liberal university in a new South Africa. One white girl actually came to me after one class, and apologetically told me that she on her part had never had any contact with black people at an intellectual level. The only blacks she knew were her kitchen maid and her garden boy who are both her intellectual inferiors. It was for that reason that she, and some of her friends, found it difficult to accept that they can be taught anything meaningful by a black person. I was disarmed by her charming frankness, which helped me understand what the problem really was. That would have been an ideal situation to try some of the methodologies that I have used in participatory theatre over the years – sometimes to create dialogue and a critical awareness even among warring street gangs. But the school term is very short, so we really couldn't create plays about these issues of prejudice. The methodologies of theatre-for-development, however, helped us to ask the right questions. By the end of the term the hostility and the resentment had disappeared and we were working smoothly together.

Reconciliation needs dialogue at all levels of society, and the arts can facilitate that dialogue.

Notes:

1 Penina Muhando Mlama expounds on this idea in Culture and Development: The Popular Theatre Approach in Africa (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1991).

2 All the views on different categories of South African theatre are repeated from my paper "Politics and the Theatre: Current Trends in South Africa", presented at the seminar of the Southern African Research Program, Yale University. 1992.

3 See, for instance Coleen Angove's "Alternative theatre: reflecting a multi-racial South African society?" in Theatre Research International Vol.17 No.1.

4 "Playland has its US premier" in The Star Tonight!, August 27, 1992.

5 "Fugard beacon for SA theatre's future" by Barry Ronge in The Sunday Times July 19, 1992.

6 "Forgiveness, reconciliation and justice" in New Nation, August 7-13, 1992.

7 "Jungle justice is a frightening threat to peace" in City Press, October 2, 1994.

8 When People Play People: Development Communication through Theatre, Zakes Mda (London: Zed Books, Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 1993).

+ posts

CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

Related Content

Climate Focused Transitional Justice

Enlivening Transitional Justice within the African Union's Agenda of Silencing the Guns: Looking Beyond 2020

Transitional Justice in Crisis Situations: Addressing Violent Extremism, Beyond a Militarised Approach

COVID-19, Transitional Justice and Victims' Experiences in Africa

Charting the Course for Transitional Justice in Africa: Recommendations of the 2017–2020 African Transitional Justice Forums

Translate »