Pumla Gobodo-Madikizelan

Cycles of Political Violence Can Be Broken
A Better Future is Ours to Create

 


The hope of a better world is contained within the human potential for forgiveness. A deep thought question -- what is the nature of evil and the limits of forgiveness? Ordinary people are capable of both tremendous violence and enormous compassion. Forgiveness and reconciliation stops the cycle of violence, stops revenge and further violence.

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizelan is a psychologist from South Africa who has brought together the victims of the apartheid-era secret police torturers and the families of those they killed. She says, "Forgiveness does not overlook the deed. It rises above it. This is what it means to be human, [because] it says I cannot and will not return to the evil you inflicted on me. And that is the victim's triumph."

In South Africa there is  intense anger related to the crimes against humanity during the apartheid era. In her past work as a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of South Africa, Gobodo-Madikizelan used dialogue, understanding and alternatives to courtroom settings in order to bring perpetrators and victims together. When a perpetrator [of torture, murder] apologizes with genuine remorse, they recognize their  victim's humanity, even in death. She says, "Perpetrators who receive the gift of forgiveness are given a chance to change." Pumla Gobodo-Madikizelan has authored a book, A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness, about her prison interviews of former South African secret police head Eugene de Kock, who is serving a 212-year sentence for crimes against humanity.

Interview with Pumla Gobodo-Madikizelan, Fall 2000. Includes photo.

Remarks at Bunting Institute Harvard-Radcliffe, 2001 (pdf)

Video Der Lange Weg aus der Dunkelheit | Video Long Night's Journey Into Day

Women Waging Peace, an organization which advocates for the full participation of women in formal and informal peace processes around the world.

 


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