Community healing in BonteLanga : a space for social healing and reconciliation

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The South Africa of today remains a largely divided society in which people of racialised groups often still regard one another with suspicion. This is not only a case of black and white since racially inflected attitudes and perceptions are just as rife amongst segments of the coloured and black community. This holds particularly true where resources are as scarce as in the townships of Cape Town's Cape Flats. The 'Community Healing Project' facilitated by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) uses dialogue and debate as main tools in a community-level reconciliation project between Langa, a black African township, and Bonteheuwel, a coloured township. Using the IJR's intetTention as a case study, this thesis deals with community dialogue as a means of correcting misconceptions and promoting attitudinal change. The aim of the study is to assess the impact of the intervention on some participants and its importance for the prevention of future conflict. The thesis draws on various disciplines to provide a theoretical framework for community dialogue interventions. Participant observation, indepth interviews as well as a critical discourse analysis of two IJR publications are then employed to identify and discuss some of the practical challenges as experienced in the implementation of the project. The analysis of the semi-structured in-depth interviews is centred on four distinct but closely interconnected themes. The analysis of the data suggests that despite some frustrations the community intervention has impacted significantly on participants' lives and the relations between the two communities and the IJR's approach proves meaningful for the participants. Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-87).