16 July 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Critical Leadership Key to Social Change
Théogène “Totto” Niwenshuti and Rena Yamazaki discuss trauma and forgiveness

The question of leadership, ethics, morality, and social change were discussed during the opening session of day three of the Global Leadership Summit, with panellists such as Dr Mvuyo Tom from the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, Cunningham Ngcukana from the Robert Sobukwe Trust, Nomsa Daniels of the Graça Machel Trust, and students from the University of the Free State (UFS), the University of Antwerp, and the Sol Plaatje University (SPU).  The panel discussed how critical leaders make the right decisions and for whom these decisions are taken when dealing with situations of social change. 

The dialogue was followed by a performance from the Arts and Social Justice Theatre Production, as we wait, a gripping play about trust and betrayal, exploring race relations in higher-education spaces.  The cast, consisting of UFS students, engaged in a panel discussion with the audience, who later raised insights and interpretations of key concepts such as white privilege, ‘isms’, and transformation at universities. 

Trauma, reconciliation, and nation-building
One of the most harrowing events of the 21st century in Africa is the Rwandan genocide that saw close to a million people killed in a space of three months from April to July 1994.  The story of Rwanda was presented by Prince ‘Totto’ Théogène Niwenshuti, a Rwandan artist, activist, and victim. He was joined by Yuki Tanaka and Rena Yamazaki, who are students from the International Christian University in Japan, for a discussion with delegates.  The Japanese students related the narrative of Japanese colonialism, its invasion of Korea and parts of China, and the war crimes that were committed there.  Discussions ensued on issues such as retribution, reconciliation, and the effectiveness of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, the community justice Gacaca courts in Rwanda, and the omission of war crime narratives in Japanese history teachings and how this affects national unity, reconciliation, and trust between victims and perpetrators.

Transformation at universities – a global concern
A wide and global view on understanding the various modalities towards reconciliation and transformation were led by a panel of four: ex-SRC president Phiwe Mathe, two students from Edmonds Community College (ECC) in the USA, staff from the UFS, Cornelius Hagenmeier, Director: Office of International Affairs, moderated by JC van der Merwe from the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.  Hagenmeier said, “I grew up in a divided Germany where east and west held certain stereotypes about each other.  I decided to finish my studies in the east, and this is when I realised that, on a personal level, we were able to find understanding as fellow students”. Mathe highlighted the importance of re-looking the commercialised space that the university operates in, and how that dictates its policies.  Students from ECC presented the plight of native American people in the United States and South America, the century-old discriminatory laws against these groups, and their call for social justice. 

The summit will conclude on 14 July 2018 with a sharing and reflection session where students and staff of partner institutions will present their positions on the thematic areas that were tabled throughout the week-long summit.

Related articles:
GLS explores global view on gender and intersectionality (July 2018)
Global Leadership Summit starts off on a high note (July 2018)

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