Guest / Limited Access /

Maurice Nchabeleng tells the panel and the audience how as a schoolboy he was taken to the room where his activist father had just been tortured and killed by the South African security forces. In that room he was ordered to wash his hands in his father's blood.

Stories like Nchabeleng's are surfacing all around South Africa. The country is trying to come to terms with its past. It is a past marked by apartheid and—as we are now learning—atrocities long hidden from view that are now being brought to light. These stories are horrific, yet told in gritty detail.

The storytellers do not sanitize the events, nor are they permitted euphemisms to cover the horrors. The stories are of people being tortured and killed in unspeakable ways, yet now those ways are being spoken. It is not only victims like Nchabeleng recounting the details of their suffering; it is also the torturers, including high-ranking state officials, confessing their crimes.

Even more astonishing, however, is that these stories are not being told in the context of a confessional. Rather, they are being told on the national stage, and in the midst of national and international debates, as South Africa struggles to come to terms with the burdens of its past. In so doing, South Africa is offering to the rest of the world a test of the power, and perhaps the limits, of the Christian vision of reconciliation. For at the heart of the entire process of confessing the truth about the past is the conviction, and the hope, that a renewed future will be possible that is marked more by reconciliation and peace than by recurring cycles of violence and vengeance. For some, that seems too much to ask. For others, it is the most hopeful sign for political life that ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSix Surprises from Bono's Interview with Focus on the Family
Six Surprises from Bono's Interview with Focus on the Family
Jim Daly and singer-activist discuss Jesus as Messiah, evangelical credit for PEPFAR, and how C.S. Lewis may inspire the next U2 song...
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickHeaven Is For Real
Heaven Is For Real
A toddler’s report that he has visited heaven is met with skepticism from everyone but his father.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisFebruary 9 February 9

In the Magazine

February 9, 1998

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.