Professor Brandon Hamber is Director of the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), an associate site of the United Nations University based at the University of Ulster. He is a Mellon Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He was born in South Africa and currently lives in Belfast. In South Africa he trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the University of the Witwatersrand and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Ulster. Prior to moving to Northern Ireland, he co-ordinated the Transition and Reconciliation Unit at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg. He co-ordinated the Centre's work focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was a visiting Tip O'Neill Fellow in Peace Studies at INCORE in 1997/1998. He was also the recipient of the Rockefeller Resident Fellowship (1996) and was a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Violence in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has consulted to a range of community groups, policy initiatives and government bodies in Northern Ireland and South Africa. He has undertaken consulting and research work, and participated in various peace and reconciliation initiatives in Liberia, Mozambique, Bosnia, the Basque Country and Sierra Leone, among others. He has lectured and taught widely, including, on the International Trauma Studies Programme at Colombia University, New York and the Post-War and Reconstruction Unit, University of York; and at the University of Ulster. He has written extensively on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the psychological implications of political violence, and the process of transition and reconciliation in South Africa, Northern Ireland and abroad. He has published some 40 book chapters and scientific journal articles, and his latest book Transforming Societies after Political Violence: Truth, Reconciliation, and Mental Health was published by Springer in 2009, and published in 2011 in Spanish by Ediciones Bellaterra and entitled Transformar las sociedades después de la violencia política. Verdad, reconciliación y salud mental.
Days after Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 I went to a massive welcome home rally at Soccer City – the stadium on the outskirts of Soweto that would host the World Cup final two decades later.
The day was one of unparalleled elation. I remember people walking for miles to see Mandela. As I neared the stadium in my old Toyota, people started to jump on the car exhausted from walking. I arrived at the stadium with 6 people in the car, and 10 people on it and with a dented roof. But…