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A conversation on social movements and narratives
Narratives of Change: Reflecting on Movements in South Africa

This was the title of a public panel discussion held jointly with Jacana Media at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg recently. During the inter-generational dialogue, two new books were introduced as well.

From the invitation background text

From the invitation text


An afternoon of joint reflecting

Panellists and audience shared deep reflections, moving recollections, crucial conversations, and listened to powerful poetry at the "Narratives of Change" Dialogue at the Nelson Mandela Foundation recently. They had gathered in the Auditorium in their numbers on a Saturday afternoon for an event looking at the recent student movements in South Africa, and social movements in the country overall and beyond.

Lovelyn Nwadeyi sharing her thoughts

Lovelyn Nwadeyi speaking


Intergenerational panel of activists and authors

Speakers and discussants on the panel were Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor of Wits University and author of a new book, "Rebels and Rage. Reflecting on #FeesMustFall", Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity 2019 - 2020 fellow, and Wandile Ngcaweni, Junior Researcher at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Research - contributor to and co-editor of the book "We Are No Longer at Ease: The Struggle for #FeesMustFall." 

Facilitator and panel

The panel with the facilitator


Different narratives from diverse perspectives

The nuanced discussion was skillfully facilitated by Nikiwe Bikitsha, journalist and board member at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. There was contestation around questions of power and agency, of privileged voices and the right to share personal perspectives, of the duty to give the right of reply, and the duty to reply. 

Poetry - sharing memories, emotions and reflections

Sharing memories, emotions and reflections in poetry


Nuanced contributions

The trauma experienced over years of activism and over many months of protests, which, for many, has yet to be overcome, was palpable in the room - as was the resolve to keep engaging and to keep seeking solutions. Panellists from different generations spoke about their own personal experiences, having been involved in different struggles, and audience members offered suggestions for productive ways to continue the movements, and to weave diverse strands for shared narratives.

Memory work and finding common ground

Read an insightful article by the Nelson Mandela Foundation about this afternoon of intense memory work and of challenging engagements on the recent student movements in South Africa, on social movements in the country overall and internationally, and on the processes that shape the narratives about all these: