Source: (2005) Social Research. 72(3):531

"VOLUME 5 OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN TRUTH AND RECONCIIIATION contains a list of all the victims of gross human rights violations whose names appeared in the commission's database at that time (August 30,1998).' The list is arranged in three columns and is nearly 100 pages long. It is a factual compendium, for the archive, in keeping with a crucial intention of the TRC: to gather evidence of atrocity in the name of the nation. It is also a memorial, not unlike the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. by Maya Lin, whose stark litany of the dead is a chronology of loss reduced to names and years. The list of the victims in the TRC report is not cast in the hard currency of cut masonry like Lin's memorial, but appears only as ink on paper. Nevertheless, when read as a memorial rather than a mere compilation of facts, and when read as a distillation of the powerful events of the commission, the report takes on an aura akin to that of Lin's memorial. This is in accord with the religious-biblical character of the TRC, a work of nation-building guided by three men of the cloth— the most famous of whom was Bishop Desmond T\itu who, dressed in his flaming crimson robes and speaking the homilies of divinity before the victims, sternly urged perpetrators to full disclosure and even confession. A report of five volumes whose Utopian gesture is to distill truth into reconciliation, suffering into forgiveness, historical strife into national identity, and word into divinity lends that book the aura of a thing of grace to be reverentially held in one's hands: a bible of contemporary times." (Excerpt)