November 30, 2010
South Africa Today: Did the Mandela Revolution Succeed?
The relatively peaceful transition from apartheid to the beginning of democracy in 1994 was greeted around the world as the beginning of a new era in African politics. Professor Charles Villa-Vicencio, former national research director of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, offered an assessment of the positive momentum and the challenges facing his native South Africa sixteen years later. Assessing the tendency among some rulers of new democracies to resort to the authoritarian tendencies of the governments they have replaced, the question was asked as to what extent South Africa's current rulers have consolidated and advanced the gains introduced by the Mandela administration. Special attention was given to the current political divisions within the ANC government and the economic challenges facing the country.
Charles Villa-Vicencio is a leading global authority in matters related to transitional justice and reconciliation. A distinguished theologian, he has published numerous works in various scholarly forums. His contributions extend beyond academics: from 1996-1998, he played a central role in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where he acted as national research director. Villa-Vicencio has used his insight and expertise to advise numerous countries dealing with the challenges of rebuilding their societies after periods of internal strife, including Peru and various African nations. Villa-Vicencio is the author of several books, including A Theology of Reconstruction: Nation-Building and Human Rights (1992) and Civil Disobedience and Beyond: Law, Resistance, and Religion in South Africa (1990). In addition, he has edited or co-edited various volumes, such as Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa (2000, with Wilhelm Verwoerd), and The Provocations of Amnesty: Memory, Justice, and Impunity (2003, with Erik Doxtader).