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Abstract

This essay uses an old African fable about lions and rabbits in order to launch, illustrate, probe and explore the role of the churches in the complex South African process of reconciliation since the end of apartheid, and the election, thirteen years ago, of Nelson Mandela as the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa. It is argued that both the challenges encountered and the solutions sought in the search for reconciliation have been and remain far from simple. Nor has the role of the churches been simple and straightforward. The author thematically traces the complex role of the church in the equally complex processes that have catapulted South Africa from tyranny to democracy. He argues that the question of reconciliation has always been on the agenda of the South African church. Sometimes this has been overtly present, sometimes covertly, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. Even when reconciliation was absent in the discourse and proxy of the church, it was nevertheless present through its absence.