Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor of Psychology University of Cape Town, South Africa, and award winning author of the book, A Human Being Died That Night. In this presentation, Dr. Gobodo-Madikizela will explore forgiveness of perpetrators as a unique outcome of the truth commission method in the aftermath of mass violence and political conflict. She will briefly identify some developmental trends in the debates on forgiveness in the context of mass atrocity.
Using a case example from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, she will explore the development of empathy in an encounter between victims and a perpetrator in the context of the perpetrator’s remorseful apology on the one hand, and the victims’ forgiveness on the other. She will consider the subtleties of cultural language in the dialogical exchange between victims and perpetrators when both victims and perpetrators are black Africans, and argue that apology and forgiveness provide impetus for transformation. The apology and forgiveness response in politics should be viewed as an essential feature of human connectedness, and a moral imperative necessary to restore hope before the work of reconciliation can start.