New book on reconciliation raises the challenges of transformation in higher education

The newly published book, Brugbouers (Bridgebuilders) authored by Buys, the Dean of Cornerstone, revisits the process of reconciliation following a horrific incident of racial discrimination at the University of the Free State in 2008. The infamous Reitz-video incident, as offensive as it was, also provided an opportunity to examine the complexities of transformation today and the need to reimagine the future of our society.

Dr Buys will explore these issues in discussion with Dr Ramphela on 21 August 2018 at the Cornerstone Institute in Cape Town. The discussion is open to the public and your participation is welcome.

Stan Henkeman, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) will chair the discussion and open engagement with the audience. Lorenzo Davids, CEO of the Community Chest will read selected passages from the book to provoke open debate.

The discussion will explore what lessons the traumas of the Reitz-video incident offer in dealing with current challenges of race, prejudice and privilege, particularly as it relates to changes in higher education today.

The Reitz-incident rocked South Africa to its foundations. In the video four white male students subject five black workers to so-called screening tests for placement in their campus residence. After video images of the workers having to eat food the students seemingly urinated in, racial tensions flared on campus and protesting voices sounded worldwide.

The university appointed Buys as dean of students following the incident to mediate racial reconciliation and transformation on campus.

In its analysis of the incident the book focuses on “in-betweenness” to make sense of the causes and more specifically the subsequent interventions for reconciliation and campus transformation

Buys highlights the life stories of four student leaders, two black and two white, from that turbulent period.

The book first recounts the experiences of the student leaders prior to, during and after the incident, and develops a way to make sense of the events. In the second part of the book Buys reflects on his experiences prior to the incident and during the process of reconciliation in terms of the perspectives he gained from the students’ lives.

“For me the process at the University of Free State was an opportunity to make sense of my Afrikaner-heritage. The episode at the university illustrates that Afrikaners, in their pursuit to reconcile their past with a future in the country, have the potential to become true bridgebuilders and co-authors of a non-racial future,” said Buys.

This is the first book in Afrikaans about the Reitz-video incident and its aftermath and offers valuable lessons to anyone who is committed to active citizenship and meaningful transformation.

Date: 21 August 2018

Time: 18h00 – 20h00.

Venue: Cornerstone Institute, 127 Cecil Road, Salt River, Cape Town.

Notes: For more information, please contact:Thembela Mgudlwa, Media Liaison & Communications Officer, Tel. 0214480050/ 0836634242 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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