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Teaching the TRC

Resource type: News

Shikaya Newsletter 2011 - Vol. II | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Shikaya recently held Teaching the TRC, an interactive event for teachers, to support them in exposing a new generation of learners to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The producers of REwind invited Shikaya to create an event for teachers to run alongside the Cape Town performances of this internationally-acclaimed production.

Over the two-day experience, the participants were able to engage with people who were at the heart of the TRC process, as well as with each other, to gain a deeper understanding of the pain and humanity that was revealed through the TRC.

Our first speaker, George Hallett, was the official photographer for the TRC. To hear his anecdotes and explanations of his photos was a real privilege, and gave us an intimate glimpse into the Commission’s internal workings.

We were also fortunate enough to have a poetry reading by Ingrid de Kok, who had attended the TRC hearings as a journalist. Participants were given a copy of her anthology, “Seasonal Fires,” upon registration, and many enjoyed reading the poems whilst hearing them. Her poems dealt with powerful themes of guilt and responsibility, but also questions of how to build a reconciled future. Both George and Ingrid were present in the “fluid conversations” which followed, where participants were invited to engage with the speakers on a more informal and personal level. Liza Key, award-winning director of the documentary REwind, also attended the fluid conversations. Liza specially edited extracts from the documentary to use at Teaching the TRC.



Teachers were given a copy of the DVD series “Truth Justice Memory” upon registration, and following the fluid conversations they watched an excerpt from it, and were guided through the lesson plan in the Teachers’ Guide. By running through the lesson as learners, teachers had the opportunity to prepare themselves for the emotions that the film brings up and to feel more confident in guiding their pupils through the exploration of the sensitive material that emcompasses teaching the TRC.

This was followed by a session with Ginn Fourie, whose daughter was killed in the Heidelberg massacre of 1993. She chose to forgive the man who masterminded the attack, Letlapa Mphahlele, and together they founded the Lyndie Fourie Foundation, which aims to promote reconciliation in South Africa. She shared her remarkable story with the teachers, and discussed the roles that empathy and forgiveness have played in her life. It was a very moving session, followed by an intense floor discussion of how to expose students to the horrors of apartheid in a way which is constructive and supportive, rather than traumatising.

Saturday began with journal-writing, for participants to reflect on what they had seen and experienced the previous day. This is a very effective way of encouraging the expression of responses and emotions to material, and forms a large part of the Facing the Past programme. Many teachers found it useful, and said that they will use this technique when teaching the TRC.



Perhaps the most intensely moving experience of the conference was the story of Nomonde Calata. She was one of the first to testify at the TRC about the murder of her husband, Fort Calata, one of the Cradock Four. She hopes that by sharing her story she can inspire people to carry on her husband’s legacy, as he was a committed teacher and believed in the power of education. 



The conference was concluded by Undine Whande and Heidi Grussbaum, who helped teachers think about the legacies of the TRC. We are grateful to all the speakers and participants for engaging deeply with this material, and sharing their thoughts and reflections so openly. Hopefully this experience will strengthen your efforts to ensure that the next generation is one of compassionate citizens who are committed to a better future.

Teaching the TRC was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.


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Related Resources


Human Rights & Reconciliation

Global Impact:

South Africa


Shikaya, Teaching the TRC