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Southern Africa Healing of Memories consultation

Violent conflict leaves wounds not only on the victim's body but also in the soul of the community. The healing of these invisible wounds was the subject of a 5-11 September 2010 regional consultation for Southern African church representatives.

11 September 2010

Reconciliation between People, Cultures and Religion

September 8 - 11, 2010, Cape Town, South Africa

(A cooperative process that was co-hosted by All Africa Conference of Churches,  World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation and the Institute of Healing of Memories)

The conference was convened in recognition of the need for healing and reconciliation in our broken world, a need that cannot be overemphasized. The pain and burden of memories of ongoing, recent and past conflicts haunt and hamper normal life and progress. The process for 'Healing of Memories' is designed to advocate for, develop and promote healing of memories and other healing and reconciliation processes in Churches and faith communities, so as to strengthen their role as channels of hope, healing and reconciliation in our world today.

The participants were predominantly representatives from Council of Churches in the Southern Africa Region: Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi and South Africa. Woman and youth were represented and Civil society organisations also participated.

Participants delivered country reports addressing the ancient, old and new wounds in their countries.  Robust discussions about what has been done or not done to address these wounds on the continent took place. Presentations were also given on current issues, HIV/AIDS, xenophobia and restitution. The common thread throughout the conference was the role of religion in conflict and healing.

After rigorous dialogue the conference developed a common vision for implementing “Healing of Memories” work in the Southern Africa region, taking into consideration both the common and unique issues in each country.

Issues raised

Common threads:

  • Lack of acknowledgement of “multiple woundedness”
  • Apartheid legacy on the sub-continent: many countries are still scarred from their involvement in the South African struggle
  • HIV and AIDS pandemic
  • A lot of superstition, ignorance, stigma and a need for education including amongst religious people around protective measures and ARV’s
  • Oppression: the liberators become the oppressors
  • The enduring lack of self value that many black people in Southern Africa continue to feel in relation to white people
  • The church needs to advocate for social change, economic justice and gender inclusivity
  • The need for restitution and restorative justice is imperative for meaningful healing
  • Corrupt politicians/corruption is endemic and does not exclude the church
  • Massive economic disparity between those who have and those who do not have.
  • Women continue to be marginalised
  • Slavery, colonisation, apartheid and all current economic injustices are the result of human greed
  • Land tenure and ownership is a contentious issue through out Southern Africa
  • Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and ethnic chauvinism are serious issues and are not fully addressed and are often among the root causes of violence.
  • South African multinationals exploit other countries in the region
  • South African weapons still fuel violence in the region
  • Lack of platforms for healing ancient, old and new wounds
  • Abuse relating to witch-hunting and allegations of witchcraft

Specific and unique issues:

  • Absolute monarch in Swaziland
  • The sinfulness of increasing attacks on and abuse of children accused of witchcraft in Malawi and Angola.
  • Botswana is contributing towards the World Bank and is presenting itself as wealthy while 59% of its population is under the poverty datum line.

Vision :

Healed community where the healing of memories is implemented in a holistic, inclusive, acceptable and sustainable way:


  • That healing of memories is of fundamental importance for building lasting peace in Southern Africa
  • That civil society, churches, other religious groups, government and NGO’s (CBO’s, IBO’S etc.) need to unite to address the skeletons of our past
  • Through working together we believe that we can heal our many ancient, old and new wounds and end cycles of retaliation and revenge
  • Healing of memories can create new ways of living together harmoniously to benefit all people

Way Forward:

Initially :

  • Heads of delegations to take the matter forward and form a regional working group
  • Healing of memories be institutionalised within the FOCCISA - the regional structure of the Councils of Churches of Southern Africa
  • Popularizing of Healing of memories in participating countries of the region
  • Needs assessment for healing of memories interventions need to be formulated in each country
  • Training of facilitators in each country


  • To establish working groups using the latest communication technologies to share parallel issues and learn from each other
  • Regional Healing of Memories workshops and training in each country, targeting political leaders, eminent/influential people, youth, civil society and religious communities
  • Motivating for school curricula to include learning about ancient, old and new wounds and how to deal with their own emotions constructively.
  • Funding should be sourced and generated
  • Networking and maintaining contact with participants and encouraging one another to continue on our own journeys of healing
  • Documentation, recording of the history, monitoring and evaluation of the processes in the region
  • Partnering with other universities and academic institutions in the region to develop recognised qualifications in Healing of Memories facilitation skills
  • To develop models of healing that can be replicated elsewhere and shared in other regions.

Adopted by acclamation, on 11 September 2010.