The Birth of New Systems Rooted in Restorative Justice, Transformative Justice and Healing
Part 1: The Resurgence of Indigenous Knowledge Systems
The word ‘Indigenous’ has its etymological roots in indo from the Latin and Endina from the Greek.
Both iundicate the emergence from the very entrails of a place. 1 Gen indicates birth and geni spirit.
So, we can say that ‘indigenous’ is related to beings, wordlviews, values, ways of life and ways of
knowing engendered from and belonging to a land that existed before the conquisita and
Indigenous peoples and knowledge systems are not homogenous. However, Davis says that their
axiologies, cosmologies, epistemologies and ontologies are strikingly similar across diverse
geographies and cultures across the globe. 3
Modern Restorative Justice emerges against the backdrop of heightened awareness that indigenous
knowledge systems grounded in an ecological ethos of inter-relatedness and collaboration have
much to offer our fractured world.
For more than Five Hundred Years Western Systems have brought us separation, competition and
subordination and have contributed to a crisis that imperils our future. 4 The destruction wrought by
systems of separation, hierarchy and competition can be felt in our bodies, our families,
communities and by animals, plant life, water and the earth. 5
The magnitude of destruction has us seeking alternative worldviews-ones that transform, restore
and heal. 6
It is in this context and against this backdrop that we see the rise of restorative justice,
transformative justice and abolitionist thought.
This resurgence fulfils a prophecy: during the 1500s, Native American Elders gathered in Mexico in
the early days of the onslaught of European Colonization. The Aztec Ruler predicted 500 years of
‘Dark Sun’. At the end of this, there would be a ‘Bright Sun’ of Human Consciousness. 7
It was also predicted that the condor signifying the South and Feminine and lunar energies would fly
with the Eagle signifying the North and Masculine and solar energies.
The prediction was that at the time of the Bright Sun, the two would re-unite and the ancient
knowledge of the earth would re-emerge from all four directions.
During the five hundred year period (the period of the Dark Sun), we have had the Papal Doctrine of
Discovery which sanctioned the conquest and subjugation of indigenous people across the earth, the
International Slave Trade, the Genocide of Native Americans, individualism, materialism and the
emergence of racial capitalism and the very notion of race itself. 8
According to this prophecy, we are moving into the period of the ‘Bright Sun’ and it is my view that
Restorative Justice will become the ground of being of all our systems-parenting, schooling,
workplace, economics, politics, the legal system and health.
In order to see its full expression in our systems, transformative justice and abolition will give us the
courage to identify systems that are not in service to humanity, abolish them and establish new
In my next piece on this, I will African Indigenous Justice against Western ideas on harm and
punishment and I will argue that we could establish superior systems if we learned African
Indigenous Knowledge systems
[i] With thanks and apologies to Charles Dickens
[ii] For previous blogs: ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THE TIME OF COVID 19 | ADR Network SA (adr-networksa.co.za) and ADR, HUMAN RIGHTS AND COVID-19 | ADR Network SA (adr-networksa.co.za) and LOCKDOWN-RELATED DISPUTES AND THE ROLE OF ADR | ADR Network SA (adr-networksa.co.za)
[iii] Kenneth Cloke, ‘Politics, Dialogue and the Evolution of Democracy’
1 The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice, Fania E Davis (2019) Good Books p21
2 Davis, supra
3 Davis, Supra
4 Davis, Supra
5 Davis, Supra
6 Davis, Supra
7 Davis, Supra
8 Davis, Supra