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Ngwenya Builds Peace Through Research

Ngwenya Builds Peace Through Research

For the Gukurahundi clan, the Public Management Degree of Doctor of Technology graduate, Dumisani Ngwenya, they view him as not just another human being but a special person who has brought peace in their lives.

Ngwenya obtained his Doctor of Technology Degree at the Durban University of Technology’s 2015 April graduation ceremony at the University’s Sports Centre, Steve Biko Campus on 23 April 2015.

He (Ngwenya) was part of the Peacebuilding programme at the University, a programme that has been labelled as the largest of its kind in Africa. This programme already has 30 Doctoral and 10 Master’s students. The programme’s emphasis is on action research so that some peace actually builds during the course of the students’ candidature.

Shortly after gaining its independence, the ZANU-PF government fell out with its liberation partners. The government ordered the military to deal with its opponents in rural Matabeleland and the resulting Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s left some 20 00 dead and thousand more thousands more traumatised. Many still suffer from trauma to this day.

Ngwenya’s thesis Healing the wounds of Gukurahundi: A participatory research project investigated whether it was possible for the survivors to find healing, given that there has never been any admission of responsibility, justice, apology or reparations. He facilitated a small group of survivors which met a number of times over a two year period.

“I found that the safety of a small, trusted group allowed people to tell their stories and to reflect on the influence of the past on their lives at present. During this process a degree of healing took place,” said Ngwenya.

Ngwenya, who was the researcher and facilitator of the group added that the decisions about what to do and how to do it were made entirely by the group members themselves. Ngwenya was supervised by Professor Geoffrey Thomas Harris, a member of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network and Professor in the Department of Public Management and Economics at DUT.

– Noxolo Memela

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