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Views and Visions of Coexistence in South Africa

9 Jan 2009
Staff writer

ACCORD’s book documenting stories of the transition from violence to peace, told by people from three South African communities.

ACCORD has published a report titled Views and Visions of Coexistence in South Africa. The report documents a series of community consultations in three South African communities – Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape and Muden and Mpumalanga in KwaZulu-Natal, where community members were invited to share their remarkable stories of transiting from violent conflict to cooperative post-conflict coexistence.

The publication shares the perspectives, understandings and local articulations of coexistence, and provides valuable lessons and insightful findings on the pivotal breakthroughs that enabled them to move from conflict to coexistence: accepting, trusting and respecting each other, granting each other freedom of association and expression, and actually doing things together.

The coexistence initiative at ACCORD began in 2003, when ACCORD in partnership with the New York based organisation, the Coexistence Initiative, undertook a series of community consultations in the three communities. Follow-up visits were conducted by ACCORD in May 2008 to revisit the initial study. During the visits, community members were updated on the progress made on the initiative, and an assessment was done on the extent to which coexistence has been maintained.

Overall, the updates indicate that all three communities manage to sustain a level of post-conflict coexistence. However, each community is experiencing new challenges related to the distribution of resources, the management of service delivery and economic opportunities through the state, and finally, the uneven record in economic development despite power-sharing and cooperation in a post-apartheid South Africa. Nevertheless, as expressed in the final section of the report, the communities are still able to discuss these challenges in a spirit of tolerance.

The report is available for download on the ACCORD website.

For more information on the publication, please contact Professor Jannie Malan at

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