We were honored today to have as our speaker, Ms. Thandile Babalwa Sunduza, Council General of South Africa based in Los Angeles and serving the western states. Mark Urban, in his introduction mentioned that Ms. Sunduza’s topic today, The Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, is germane to Rotary’s theme this month of Peace and Conflict Resolution. South Africa has shown the world that it is possible to transition from a very unjust system of government (apartheid) to a more just one without war or widespread violence. As we all may know, apartheid was implemented in South Africa from 1948 to 1990, and many South Africans suffered severe human rights violations, including forced relocations, exclusion from politics, deprivations of citizenship and systemic segregation. In 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) under Nelson Mandela won South Africa’s first multi-racial democratic elections. The new government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a court like body intended to investigate human rights violations perpetrated during the apartheid regime. They have for the most part recommended what they call “Restorative Justice” rather than “Retributive Justice”, promoting a tolerant, more just society. Part of justice and peace is to forgive white people and end a tragedy without bloodshed and yet fight injustice – if you do not, you are a part of it.
Ms. Sunduza said that the first atrocity of a society is not to respect another human being – the idea of being superior. What we plant in our children will be the future.
Ms. Sunduza then opened up for discussion and Q and A.  What was discussed is summarized as follows:
There is better kinship between the races, it has been important to get rid of old fears, young people are learning about their culture and traveling and living in different areas. She admitted, for instance, she loves Indian food. Ms. Sunduza made the observation that Americans don’t talk about race, South Africans talk about race more openly. Her opinion is that Americans have two parties, Democrat and Republican – the young people should coalesce and start their own party.
She said that the police since apartheid are more service orientated as well as doing enforcement and many are women. The South African government is a respected member of the Community of African Nations, and is a “peace keeping” nation and leading in race relations. Ms. Sunduza ended with an invitation to consult with her on all things South African and when Covid-19 is over, to come and visit her beautiful country. President David could hardly wait to tell Thandile that a book, in her honor, will be donated to the Carmichael Library (subsidiary of the Sacramento Public Library.
The Consulate's email is: consular.la@dirco.gov.za or info.losangeles@dirco.gov.za