‘The younger they start being conscious, the better’

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) hosted a book launch and social cohesion conference in Cape Town last week.

A book that took three years of research on the topic of social cohesion was launched by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) at their offices in Gardens last week.

The launch of the book titled Pathways For Connections also culminated in a two-day conference that was focused on social cohesion.

Eleanor du Plooy, a senior project leader at the IJR, said the book is a compilation of their reflections, challenges and success of working in a more integrated way.

“It’s a reflection on what we think is possible in terms of building socially cohesive communities, making reconciliation practical and seeing what the challenges are in communities. I think that this is an important publication for any practitioner who wants to try and do similar things in their communities.”

She said the book included case studies and methodologies.

Nosindiso Mtimkulu, another senior research at the IJR, said research for the book began in 2013. “We wrote the book based on the projects we did in the field,” she said.

She said that there was a model for doing the work within communities.”It’s about implementing this model and taking it into new areas. We’ve also equipped the areas we’ve worked in so that they can continue the work.”

She said that the book was something all South Africans should have. “It’s all our responsibility to work in the area of social cohesion in our immediate areas. The younger they start being conscious, the better. Living in South Africa you are aware of the vast differences between people in the country. It should be up to us to change the situation.”

Ms Mtimkulu said that a tool book with exercises was released with the book to be made available for activities such as dialogues.

Ms Du Plooy said each of the project leaders had projects with different targets.

For example, there was the memory arts and culture project, schools oral history project, and the community healing project.

“The idea behind this was to work in an integrated way and ensure that all the communities we work in are exposed to the different projects and programmes.”

She said there were good lessons to be learnt in the book. “It could be useful for peaceful builders who are looking to make reconciliation a real thing.”

She said the book also recognises the historical legacies of colonialism and apartheid.

“It raises the issues, poses questions and challenges. It also offers possible avenues and tools you can use to explore them. It’s a tool for self reflection.”

The book is available for free download. For more information visit the IJR’s website at http://www.ijr.org.za/.