South Africa for many years has been characterized by political oppression, racial segregation, and economic exploitation by the whites on non-whites. Africans have always played a role in challenging these conditions. As unrest spread and their efforts became more effective and militarized, the white government responded with repression and violence. This assignment examines the role of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and issues that concerns reconciliation in South Africa. I furthermore discuss the events of oppression and apartheid that occurred before South Africa was democratised in 1994.
2. What is Reconciliation?
The South African society was faced with challenges such as racial and economic segregation in the apartheid era enforced by the National Party governments through their legislation. Apartheid or racial segregation played a very big part of South Africa’s history, this segregation and oppression brought issues ranging from torture to genocide by the white minority on blacks. After the end of apartheid the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established.
This was a court-like body where the victims of violence could come forward and be heard. Reconciliation has been existent in many countries for centuries but South Africa adopted it as the centrepiece of transition to democracy (Tutu. 2007:1). Reconciliation is the attempt by different parties to work out their differences and remain as a unit. This is basically about the victims abandoning their “right” to retribution and opening the door of opportunity for their perpetrators or abusers to make a clean start in order to bring harmony. In my own view, I think the core of reconciliation lies in forgiveness, for people to reconcile, to eliminate the sources of conflict between them there has to be forgiveness.
3. South Africa’s history of oppression
Oppression is defined by Gil (1998) as a mode of human relations involving domination and exploitation, economic, social and psychological between individuals, between social groups and classes within and beyond societies and globally. This is basically about the exercise of power or authority in a cruel and unjust manner. It is characterised by the ruling group imposing its beliefs, values and laws on the oppressed group.
Racial segregation and oppression was enforced by the governments which ruled South Africa from 1940 to 1994 and it dates back to colonial times when the Dutch and British came to Africa. During this period the rights of the black majority were limited and white supremacy ruled; Africans were deprived of their citizenship and were based on homelands called Bantustans. Oppression in South Africa was enforced through apartheid laws which came into effect following the 1948 elections.
Oppression in South Africa left a legacy that redefined our relationship altogether. Race laws touched every aspect of social and economic lives of the citizens, for example, the endorsing of whites only jobs, prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites and imprisonment of non-apartheid leaders. This sparked resistance and violence by non-whites, there has been a series of uprising and protests and the state organisations responded with violence and repression to this as unrest spread.
4. The role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) is the commission that is responsible for revealing and correcting the past wrong-doing, either by government or other organisations. The aim of the commissions is to resolve the conflicts left over from the past. The TRC is sometimes criticized for allowing transgresses to go without punishment and creating impunity for serious offenders. The commission investigate past wrongdoings and violations, however, its roles and abilities in this respect depend on their mandates which vary widely. In some instances this mandates limits the commission’s liberty to bring...