Templeton Prize
Photo Credit: Stefan Els for the Templeton Prize

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela has won the ‘World’s Most Interesting Prize’, the prestigious Templeton Prize (won by the likes of Desmond Tutu) for her incredible contributions in the field of forgiveness!


Global (11 June 2024) — Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela has been awarded the ‘World’s Most Interesting Prize’—the prestigious Templeton Prize that has been won by the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

As an honour that commends those who have used their scholarly paths to explore “the deepest questions about humanity and the universe”, it only makes sense that the healing path Professor Gobodo-Madikizela has helped build toward our understandings of forgiveness and repairing the psychological places trauma shatters in societies, would achieve a prize of this stature.

Needless to say, the South African professor, psychologist and public figure is one of the greats when it comes to the kind of work that leaves its mark on humanity for the better.

She has been commended for career-defining victories including winning the Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award (2020) and a fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute, not to mention the leadership positions she holds—Professor Gobodo-Madikizela is the SARChi Chair for Violent Histories and Historical Trauma, the Founding Director of the Centre for the Study of the Afterlife of Violence and the Reparative Quest (AVReQ). Notably, she was also an influential member of the Human Rights Violations Committee of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission).

Through her work, the professor has been imperative to knowledge on the transgenerational impact of historical traumas.

The John Templeton Foundation’s president, Heather Dill spotlighted Prof Gobodo-Madikizela as “a guiding light within South Africa as it charts a course beyond apartheid, facilitating dialogue to help people overcome individual and collective trauma.” 

Heather added, “Her work underscores the importance in contemporary life of cultivating the spiritual values of hope, compassion and reconciliation.”

For the acclaimed professor, the Templeton Prize is a gracious gift (it is a prize of £1.1 million which is over R26 million) and is one that will afford new opportunities for research projects and the future generation.

“I am excited that I can use the Templeton Prize to help fund our postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows at a time of reduced funding all-round,” said the professor who has pledged to donate R8 million to Stellenbosch University.

Of this, R5 million is set to head toward the Nobantu and Tukela Gobodo endowment scholarship (named after her parents), R1 million to the SUNRISE programme (Stellenbosch University Research and Innovation Strategic Excellence programme) with future professors in mind, and R2 million to AVReQ.

Sources: Stellenbosch University; John Templeton Foundation 
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Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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