Zandile Nhlengetwa, a South African activist who worked toward reconciliation in the midst of violence and retribution, is the 2012 Oak Human Rights Fellow.
Nhlengetwa, a longtime educator in KwaZulu-Natal, is spending first semester at Colby discussing the history of the conflicts that claimed the lives of her husband, brother, and adopted son. She worked for many years to stop political and criminal violence in the region, often at great personal risk. Nhlengetwa, the principal of Ulusda School, has founded programs centering on gender inequity, sexual abuse, and violence. Her goal is for young people to choose education over violence, school over gangs and militia.
Nhlengetwa founded the Harambe Women’s Forum, for women widowed by conflict in the region. She also assisted with the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone, working with former child soldiers there.
“Youth are in the forefront of violence, so the approach for me was to start with the youth,” she said.
Nhlengetwa discusses her work in a Q&A