Promoting Social Reconciliation in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Engaging “Forgiveness” Texts in Bible Translation Performance

Join us for a lecture by Dr. Tshokolo Makutoane, Department of Hebrew at University of the Free State, South Africa

In the hours before and after the release of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela from prison on 10 February 1990, South Africa was a land filled with mixed emotions. There were moments of enthusiasm and tears of joy for the advent of the new era. At the same time there was a feeling of uncertainty for many South Africans at home and in the diaspora. What fueled these mixed reactions in the hearts of many South Africans was the remembrance of their previous history of oppression and separation. It was a history that disowned a nation of its humanity and kindness for more than three centuries. With the advent of this new era, this polarized nation realized that liberation had to happen at all costs but the most important thing was to reconcile the separated nation. Ways and means were established to communicate this across all races by various stakeholders—the government, non-governmental organizations, the religious fraternity, and so on—but that did not bring much to one’s own understanding and expectations.
This paper describes an on-going effort within the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa in the province of the Free State (South Africa) to design a performative translation of biblical forgiveness texts into Sesotho, one of the official languages of South Africa. The goal is to effectively communicate the concept of forgiveness both to confessional communities and to those outside of those communities. This translation will help the hearers to have a better understanding of biblically-based conceptions of forgiveness and how that concept can promote social reconciliation within the polarized society of South Africa. The design of a performance translation of forgiveness texts and its implementation within society will provide a model for similar translations into the other 10 official languages of South Africa.

Tshokolo Johannes Makutoane was born in the Southern Free State at Bethulie. He received his BA (with distinction in Hebrew) at the University of the North (Qwaqwa) (1995); BTh at the University of the Free State (1998). In 2003 he received his MA (Cum laude) in Language Practice and in 2011 he received a PhD in Near Eastern Studies, both at the University of the Free State. In 2003 he was contracted as a junior lecturer; a lecturer in 2004 -2007 at University of the Free State in the Department of the Old Testament. In 2006 -2009 he was contracted as lecturer in the Department Afro-Asiastic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice teaching Elementary Hebrew. In 2011 he was contracted as a lecturer in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies. In the same year he was also helping with the postgraduate teaching at the Department of Language Management and Language Practice. Since 2012, he has been contracted as a senior lecturer in the Department of Hebrew. He specializes in Theory of translation, Bible Translation and Orality Studies. He is a co-author of 4 published articles in different journals; a co-presenter of 4 papers in 4 International Conferences, and a presenter of 3 papers in 3 National Conferences.