The Great Texts / Big Questions lecture on 19 May at 17:30 will see Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela explore a profound SA question: “To transcend the discourse of race, don’t we need a dialogue of pasts?”

Gobodo-Madikizela is a professor of psychology at the University of Cape Town. Her first book, A Human Being Died that Night: A Story of Forgiveness, won the Alan Paton Award and the prestigious Christopher Award in the United States.

What happens when we avoid facing the past? Does it haunt us, yielding feelings of shame, guilt, or anger? Or do we deny this past and the feelings it evokes, and then pursue a quest to “move on” and forget the past? Does the past play itself out symbolically in our lives, transforming us into victims, heroes, or villains? Does it transform into a language of hate and destructive engagement in the public sphere? Or does it explode into violence – real or symbolic – against an Other?

This lecture explores these questions using recent events in South Africa as backdrop. The lecture will draw insights from Philip Miller’s Rewind and from the arts in general, as genres that transform past violence into something creative, touching some level of humanity that can initiate change of moral sensibilities. From the arts to real life, the lecture will conclude with a story from the Protea Village in Bishopscourt to illustrate how the memory of a troubled past can enable a transformed vision to construct new narratives that enter into the space of the Other.

This event will take place at Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town on Thursday 19 May at 17:30 and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No booking is necessary. For more information on the series, please contact 021 480 7156 or

Pumla Gobodo Madikizela audio recording available for download.

 Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela video recording:

Start: 19 May ’11 5:30 am

End: 19 May ’11 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall 

Phone: +27 21 480 7156 

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa