Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela | Across Our Fault Lines

March 02, 2019

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela


Every society must negotiate how it will repair acts of wrongdoing— whether in the individual experience of crimes committed against particular victims, or through the ongoing social consequences of cultural, racial, or religious conflict.

Since serving on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela has dedicated her life to understanding how we can bridge the differences that have been at the root of historic divisions through reconciliation and reparation, “creating spaces for dialogue, facing and mourning the past.”

In her 2019 Sir John Graham Lecture, Professor Gobodo-Madikizela reflected on the successes and failures of the practice of reconciliation as a response to historic injustices; and considered questions about its capacity to interrupt intergenerational cycles of suffering and to bring wholeness and lasting peace. Her scholarship and story contributed to our conversation as we walked through our own history and questions.



Currently the Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University, Professor Gobodo-Madikizela’s work as a clinical psychologist on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa provided the basis for her multi-award winning book: “A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness.”

Since completing her doctorate at the University of Cape Town, Professor Gobodo-Madikizela has taught, studied, and spoken at academic institutions around the world, focusing on “questions of remorse, empathy, and forgiveness, exploring the role of dialogue when victims, perpetrators, and beneficiaries of gross human rights abuses have to live together.”

Listen to The Maxim Institute Podcast we recorded with Pumla earlier in the day:

Click here to read the 2019 Sir John Graham Lecture & Q+A monograph.

Watch her Lecture on YouTube below:

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the New Zealand Law Foundation for this event.

Sir John Graham

Since 2008, the annual Sir John Graham has provided a unique opportunity to hear leading experts contribute to public debate in New Zealand. To see previous lectures in the series, click here.

Sir John Graham was an exemplary New Zealander who throughout his life displayed the consistency of character and care for others we hope for in the best of our leaders. Along with his well-known leadership roles as Captain of the All Blacks, Headmaster of Auckland Grammar, and Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Sir John inspired and led many organisations, including Maxim Institute.

Appropriately, he was recognised with a CBE in 1994 for his services to education and the community, and was further honoured when he was knighted in 2011. As a Founding Trustee of Maxim, Sir John Graham’s deep love for New Zealand, his passion for education, and concern for those on the margins of life remain at the heart of our work, and we are honoured to be able to hold this annual lecture in his name.

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