Fellow Since 1997
Victory Sonqoba Theater Company
This profile was prepared when Bongani Linda was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
After studying the conflict-ridden communities of South Africa's Gauteng province, Bongani Linda concluded that the two distinct factions of South Africa's black townships-"normal" township residents and the transit workers who dwell in large single-sex "hostels"-were ready to end the violent conflict that defined their relationships for many years. He then set about demonstrating how. Previous peace and reconciliation efforts had failed, according to Bongani, because they did not address the underlying lack of trust between the different groups. They focus, understandably, on stopping ongoing violence at times of crisis and, less understandably, do not undertake sustained efforts to create the conditions for lasting peace. Typically, leaders of community groups or political parties undertake negotiated peace agreements. The "man in the street," however, is hardly involved in the process. Demonstrations of support for the "treaties"-such as marches with supporters wearing peace badges and hoisting blue and white flags-usually provide the only occasion at which the treaties are respected. Considering the central role that culture and sport play in South Africa's townships, Bongani believes that cultural and sporting activities can be used to bridge the gap between warring community factions. Through participation in organized music, dance, dramatic plays and sports activities, members of the two groups can discover what they have in common and may thereby come to accept one another. Bongani is implementing this promising new method to build lasting peace in South Africa's townships.