Original Research - Special Collection: Symposium Social Cohesion

Towards restoration of human identity: Practical Theology exploring possibilities of re-imagining the discourse of reconciliation and social cohesion in South Africa

Semape J. Manyaka
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2624 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2624 | © 2014 Semape J. Manyaka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 January 2014 | Published: 20 November 2014

About the author(s)

Semape J. Manyaka, Pastor of Willow Manor Christian Centre, Nellmapius and Managing Director at Phenyo Christian College; Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


‘Social cohesion’ is a concept that many researchers agree is not easily defined. However, all definitions do agree that it is about a combination of processes. In this article I have adopted the Jenson definition (1998:4), as ‘a process of developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunities within South Africa, based on trust, hope, and reciprocity among all South Africans.Through this process the restoration of human identity will emerge out of the fragmentation caused by the apartheid government before the new democratic order of 1994. It is the aim of the new government to engage in this process (Cloete & Kotze 2009:43), with the result that many of those with broken human identities are beginning to participate in the developing new order.I have also chosen to explore transversal discourses in this article. These discourses favour an interdisciplinary approach. They allow different disciplines to have conversations without assimilation, and, while rooted in their own belief systems, they are still capable of sharing with others. In South Africa, we come from different backgrounds, but our backgrounds should have no power to keep us apart or locked in our own prisons.The article follows the tenets of postfoundationalist practical theology, and is based in the interdisciplinary paradigm. It promotes reflection on the ‘presence of God’ without using force, or judging those who do not share my faith. In this approach all voices receive equal treatment: participants are free to say what they believe and to express themselves openly; it also means theologians can participate freely in the debate on social cohesion. This is a never-ending journey; each one of us must play our role and never give up.


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