Fighting Racism to find a Common South African purpose

On the 2nd of March, the dimly lit auditorium at Cornerstone Institute was alight with the excitement and expectation of over a hundred participants in what was the first of a series of significant dialogues to be hosted at the Institute. The series is held in memory of Pat and Shelma James, two great South African teachers who, according to their granddaughter Gabrielle James, believed in the “importance of having public dialogue on compelling issues of the day”. Cornerstone Institute agrees with this view, and placed ‘Racism’ as a pertinent starting point.

Palesa Morudu, MD for C2C publications, successfully moderated the lively discussion, with a panel of dynamic participants Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Marlyn Faure and Dr George Hull. Lovelyn early this year made a seminal, provocative contribution to the South African transformation agenda with her speech “Courage, Compassion and Complexity: Reflections on the new Matieland and the new South Africa”. George is a lecturer at the Philosophy Department of UCT, who organised the Cape Town Social Equality Conference in 2014. Marlyn, a Cornerstone alumni, is currently working on a Master’s degree on Public Health at the University of Stellenbosch.

The debate extended beyond the walls of the Institute in the form of a lively Twitterthon with many participants. In addition, the discussion was broadcasted live on Bush Radio to over 60 000 listeners, who enthusiastically participated with an sms-line. Significant audience contributions reflected a serious concern with the direction national debate is taking on racism. It was generally felt that the focus of discussion must also include cross-sectional economic transformation. For this reason, the upcoming Pat and Shelma Memorial dialogue session will focus specifically on this critical aspect of the debate.

Watch this space for further details and be sure to join us for the next dialogue.

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