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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Public ritual and private transition: the Truth Commission in Alexandra Township, South Africa 1996
Author:Bozzoli, BelindaISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:offences against human rights
commissions of inquiry
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Politics and Government
Ethnic and Race Relations
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189808707894
Abstract:The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was designed to reveal the truth about the political conflicts of the past. This paper examines the operation of one of its committees, that on Human Rights Violations, in one of the townships of Johannesburg, Alexandra, the home of many political leaders of the struggle against apartheid and a place where intense conflicts occurred in the period covered by the commission (1960-1993). The paper deals with the hearings in 1996 and explores 22 testimonies of victims of apartheid about resistance in the township. The commission used the method of ritual rather than that of law. The paper explores this procedure, the ways in which myths and narratives were embedded in the ritual, the definition of 'community', embraced by the ritual, and the patterns and types of storytelling, that enabled it. It looks at the way the private realm was brought into the public domain, and the ways in which the public realm was shaped by the discourses of nationalism. The public narrative placed the ANC in the lead of a just war and named heroes and martyrs. However, like the public narrative, the private ones also tended to marginalize the role of the youth and the revolutionaries of 1986. Unintendedly, the ritualized setting of the hearing resulted in a new form of sequestration of the experiences of ordinary Alexandrans. Bibliogr., notes