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Shared Stories for the Future?

Theological Reflections on Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa

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For South Africa, both the 20th and 21st centuries began with facing a painful past while searching for a shared future: the experiences of the war (1899-1902) between the colonial British Empire and the two Boer Republics, and the legacy of official apartheid (1948-1990), respectively. According to many, these histories are deeply inter-related in that the sufferings which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission faced were partly caused by the inadequate handling of the sufferings of the war. From a Christian perspective, focusing on stories of women, the essay considers three such issues; namely, questions of truth and suffering, guilt and responsibility, and reconciliation and justice—while reflecting on the tension between forgiving and forgetting.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of New Testament Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa;, Email:; 2: Professor of Systematic Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa;, Email:


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