05 December 2019 Volume :7 Issue :66

Conversations for Change Forum Discusses Issues of Social Justice and Global Citizenry

Conversations for Change Forum Discusses Issues of Social Justice and Global Citizenry
From left: Ms Normah Zondo, Professor Thabo Msibi, Ms Kerry Frizelle, Mr Sello Maake-kaNcube, Ms Cookie Edwards and Mr Suntosh Pillay.

UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division co-hosted the 8th annual Conversations for Change event in partnership with the Mandela Rhodes Community.

The event was themed: Re-Imaging Social Justice and Global Citizenry for Africa and the World.

Mandela Rhodes Scholar, UKZN alumnus, and Clinical Psychologist, Mr Suntosh Pillay facilitated the conversation among the panel which included Dean and Head of the School of Education, Professor Thabo Msibi; UKZN lecturer and counselling psychologist, Ms Kerry Frizelle; renowned actor, performing artist and social activist, Mr Sello Maake-kaNcube; and the Executive Director of the KwaZulu-Natal Network on Violence against Women, Ms Cookie Edwards.

Pillay opened the debate by discussing the importance of conversations in initiating change and invited the panel to tackle issues of global citizenry while reinvigorating the term social justice linked to xenophobia and gender-based violence (GBV).

Msibi, investigated social justice from an education context by examining notions of Archie Lembede’s Pedagogies of Presence that recognises individuals, the spaces they occupy and affirms who they are. He advocated for notions of fairness and diversity when looking at social justice stating: ‘Because we are different and we recognise that difference, it is that difference that makes us part of a society. If we go with that approach, notions of exclusion within organisations become effectively nullified and addressed in a much broader manner.’

Frizelle examined social justice from a psychologist’s perspective and reflected on the hope South Africans carried for the country’s new democracy and constitution, compared it to its present day reality. She argued: ‘We cannot bring about wellness in contexts or systems that are unwell,’ and called for an end to a passive sense of hope and a start of a critical hope. ‘We need hope that recognises that unless we act and come together as a collective nothing will materialise,’ said Frizelle.

Partnering with Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT) in the fight against domestic abuse, Maake-kaNcube was part of a play called Komeng (a Sotho word for going to initiation in the mountains) which dealt with psychological pain. Maake-kaNcube reflected on the last line of the play: “Today we discovered that we are human beings first and men after”, and urged individuals not to lose sight of their humanity but rather recognise that Ubuntu had no gender.

A community worker for more than 30 years, Edwards examined social justice from the grassroots level and called for the improvement of services (police stations and magistrate’s courts) in South Africa in order for victims of abuse to receive the assistance they need. She highlighted the high levels of unjust funding by government saying: ‘Women receive R63 a night and learn sewing and cooking skills in a shelter but criminal perpetrators get R350 a night and the privilege of studying. Where is the balance in our society?’

Words: Hlengiwe Precious Khwela

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa

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