The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation yesterday awarded the coveted Reconciliation Award to Symphonia for South Africa’s Partners for Possibility programme in recognition of the powerful change that the programme has had in promoting education and ultimately reconciliation.
The IJR was founded in 2000 in the aftermath of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Over the past 14 years it has helped to build fair, democratic and inclusive societies in Africa through carefully selected engagements and interventions. Each year the Institute confers the Reconciliation Award to an individual or organisation that has contributed greatly to nation building and reconciliation in South Africa. The theme of this year’s awards was ‘Living Reconciliation’ in commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s Legacy.
Nelson Mandela himself stated that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Therefore it is fitting that Symphonia for South Africa was conferred the Reconciliation Award under this year’s theme, as our vision is to realise quality education for all children in South Africa by 2022. IJR has recognised our contribution to ‘Living Reconciliation’ through inviting people from disparate backgrounds on an active learning journey that builds understanding, appreciation and respect in a profound act of reconciliation.
The award ceremony was beautiful to behold, with a number of partnerships in the programme present, as well as British and Finnish consular representatives. It was held at Steenberg High School, a school in the Partners for Possibility programme. The night proceeding's were started off with the school's Symphonic Wind Band playing melodic background music as the guests arrived. This was followed by a rousing speech on Living Reconciliation by Stan Henkeman, the head of the Building an Inclusive Society Programme. Henkeman declared that the evening was to celebrate an organisation that was truly living reconciliation. He said the Partners for Possibility programme proves that when there is supportive and responsive action by caring adults there can be reconciliation in South Africa.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a patron of the IJR, handed over the award. The Archbishop spoke of the dire condition of humanity's moral fibre at present. He said "God cries when he sees all the bad in the world, but when he sees the work Symphonia is doing, he smiles." With those heart warming words of recognition, he handed the award over to Louise Van Rhyn. Louise expressed her appreciation to IJR for recognising the work that Symphonia does through the Partners for Possibility programme. She encouraged the crowd to play their role in reconciliation stating that President Mandela and Archbishop Tutu had played their role, and it is now time for our generation to lead change.
- View the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation's press release here.
- View the event image gallery here.
- View a video on the award ceremony below: