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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

Forgive and forget? Or remember and retaliate?
2015-10-08

Cover of the novel Kamphoer

Fact and fiction came together at the Bloemfontein Campus recently to discuss the traumatic repercussions of the South African War. The event forms part of a three-year project – headed by Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (University of the Free State Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies) – which investigates transgenerational trauma in the aftermath of the South African War.

The discussion explored the theme, ‘Working through the Past: Reflections on the novel Kamphoer’.

Together, Emeritus Prof Chris van der Merwe (University of Cape Town) and the author of the novel, Dr Francois Smith (University of the Free State, Department Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French), engaged in a thought-provoking, insightful conversation, tracing themes of trauma and issues of forgiveness presented in Kamphoer. Prof Van der Merwe and Dr Smith demonstrated how both fiction and historical fact can inform our present, and guide us into the future.

Emeritus Prof Chris van der Merwe and Dr Francois Smith
discuss the novel Kamphoer and how the book relates to
current issues of transgenerational trauma.

“On a societal level,” Prof Van der Merwe said, “we need to work through trauma by putting it into words, and putting it into a narrative.” When it comes to historical trauma, should we forgive and forget, though? Or rather remember and retaliate? Neither, proposed Prof Van der Merwe. “What I want to plead for is the difficult challenge: remember and forgive.” But Prof Van der Merwe also pointed out that, although forgiveness blesses both the giver and receiver, it is an ongoing process.

Dr Smith agreed wholeheartedly. “One of the discoveries of my book is that forgiving is a continuous process. It’s not something that gets completed at a particular stage in your life. By the same token, you can’t say that you are ever able to leave the past behind.” These issues of trauma, forgiveness, the past versus the present, remembering and forgetting are all integral questions confronting the main character of the novel, Susan Nel .

They are also questions we, as a nation, are currently confronted with, too.

“At this moment in our society,” Prof Van der Merwe said, “we have enough killers. We have a greater need now for caring nurturers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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