Interfacing metaphors and postures for understanding deep communicative divisions at a tertiary institution
While South Africans have made some significant social and political progress since the first democratic elections in 1994, there are still divisions1 in this recovering society, and the aftermath of apartheid has not subsided as quickly as we may have hoped. This conflicted socio-political history has created a confusing web in which the people of South Africa find themselves entangled as they attempt to reconcile themselves with this history, while striving for authenticity in their lived experience. In becoming more aware of how various groups of South Africans might have come to conceptualise their position in society, it may prove useful to consider a metaphorical model of morality proposed by American cognitive linguist George Lakoff2 (1990; 2002; 2008), who attempted to resolve some major difficulties in American politics by making the unconscious conscious, as the problems begin in the minds of citizens. This article interfaces a version of this metaphorical model with Johann Visagie’s postural model3 of humanity in an attempt at moving beyond personal and political narratives towards opening a constructive, licensed discourse. The article was originally written in response to the 2009 and 2010 colloquia4 at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein. The colloquia served to address issues of racial conflict in society and on campus. Since then, the UFS has made huge inroads in social reconciliation. However, issues such as these remain pertinent in all levels of South African society, and this article, although presented here as a case study of the UFS, could be applied to similar situations elsewhere where problems still persist.