Political Violence: Faith and Family Life

Researchers from the Sinomlando Centre have interviewed survivors of the civil war that started in 1987 between the African National Congress and the Zulu traditional movement Inkatha in a tribal area called Nxamalala, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. According to the University of Natal Unrest Monitoring Project, in the course of four years the conflict in Nxamalala had claimed the lives of 31 people and caused extensive damage to property. This figure is based on newspaper articles, police unrest reports and information from independent monitors, though. If we take into account the deaths recorded in the oral testimonies, we obtain the figure of 48 deaths. The real number is most likely even higher.

Researchers from the Sinomlando Centre have interviewed survivors of the civil war that started in 1987 between the African National Congress and the Zulu traditional movement Inkatha in a tribal area called Nxamalala, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. According to the University of Natal Unrest Monitoring Project, in the course of four years the conflict in Nxamalala had claimed the lives of 31 people and caused extensive damage to property. This figure is based on newspaper articles, police unrest reports and information from independent monitors, though. If we take into account the deaths recorded in the oral testimonies, we obtain the figure of 48 deaths. The real number is most likely even higher.

The Sinomlando researchers gained access to this community through the assistance of the Programme for Survivors of Violence, also known as Sinani, a Pietermaritzburg-based organisation which endeavours to bring reconciliation and healing to communities formerly affected by political violence. The first results of this research were presented at a conference of the International Oral History Association, held in Rome in June 2004. The paper read on this occasion provided a firsthand account of the political violence as experienced by the people of Mthoqotho in the Nxamalala area.

Bibliography

Philippe Denis, Prayers and Rituals to the Ancestors as Vehicles of Resilience: Coping with Political Violence in Nxamalala, Pietermaritzburg (1987-1991), Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 128 (July 2007), pp. 37-52.

--, "Indians versus Russians". An Oral History of the Political Violence in Nxamalala (1987-1992), Journal of Natal and Zulu History 27 (2007), vol. 24-25 (2006-07), pp. 64-94. Download PDF file