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Question authority in a respectful manner

- By Wits University

Prof. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela’s address to Wits graduates about to claim their place in the world hit on several issues at the core of national discourse and discontent.

She said that while citizens have a right and should question authority when issues of principle are at stake, this should be done with responsibility.

“Question authority in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Taper your rights to express outrage with moral wisdom. When speaking out “we should always be guided, not by a desire to do malice. Speaking out should be inspired by a desire to do what is just and right.”

Gobodo-Madikizela delivered the keynote address at the Faculty of Humanities graduation ceremony on Wednesday, 26 June 2013.

Click to listen to her speech.

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is a clinical psychologist and Senior Research Professor at the University of the Free State. Since her work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, her research has focused on the reparative elements of victim-perpetrator dialogue in the aftermath of mass trauma and violence. Her current research applies the insights emerging from her study of forgiveness to explore the psychoanalytic dimensions of empathy in the context of perpetrators’ remorse and victims’ forgiveness. Her interests in relation to empathy focuses on the web of feelings and the transformative shifts that open up in dialogue processes between former enemies.

Besides her scholarly articles, her books include A Human Being Died that Night: A Story of Forgiveness, for which she won the Alan Paton Award in South Africa, and the prestigious Christopher Award in the United States; Narrating our Healing: Perspectives on Healing Trauma, as co-author; and as co-editor of Memory, Narrative and Forgiveness: Perspectives on the Unfinished Journeys of the Past.

Gobodo-Madikizela has delivered several endowed lectures and keynote addresses internationally. Her honours include an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from the Holy Cross College in Worcester in Massachusetts; the Eleanor Roosevelt Award; and being honoured amongst the  100 People who Made a Difference in the Permanent Exhibit of the Hall of Heroes in the National Freedom Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States.