On the 19th of November 2019, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the A4 Arts Foundation co-hosted the Reconciliation Award ceremony under the theme – The Art of Reconciliation. We celebrated and honoured those who use art as a tool of driving reconciliation and social cohesion.

The Reconciliation Award 2019 recipients are Lalela Project and Neliswa Dludla, Founder and Director of Early Birds Homeschool for their work in using arts to pursue social cohesion and community building.

IJR also recognised learners who participated in the Global Dignity Campaign for their artwork which portrays their understanding of human dignity.


The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation confers an annual Reconciliation Award to an individual, community or organisation in South Africa that has contributed, in one way or another, toward reconciliation. Through this award the Institute acknowledges and showcases the recipients’ approaches and strategies to enable reconciliation, whether they originate in the spheres of politics, media, business, culture, and academia or community service.

This year, the theme for the Reconciliation celebration was “The Art of Reconciliation”, and the ceremony recognised, showcased and celebrated the arts and people who pursue justice and reconciliation through imagination and creativity at a community and local level. The Institute, in collaboration with the A4 Foundation, created a space that celebrated art and artists in the visual arts,music, and spoken word. The space was interactive with many opportunities to engage and reflect (individually and collectively) on our histories, identities, and agency to initiate change.

About the awardees

Early Birds Lifestyle Academy

Early Birds Lifestyle Academy (EBLA) is a learning support program that uses an integrated approach to a holistic education to support the learning gaps identified by the duration crisis in South Africa. EBLA’s approach uses the arts as a tool, for reinforcing critical thinking in learners. Visual arts is used to foster mindfulness and for early development at grade R level for our learners and progressivey through primary school grades at the aftercare space.

We use various tools; paint, pencil, graphite sticks as well as well physical stimuli to reinforce memory, team work and channeling group synergies in the learning process for learners. For our high school groups we run expression sessions ranging in poetry, art exhibitions, music performances, and theatre to build character, learning confidence and mind body balance. We believe in exposing our learners to as many opportunities as feasible within the city in order to cultivate versatility in the learner’s capacity to identify their areas of excellence within schooling boundaries and their extracurricular space.

Lalela Life Changing Art

Lalela provides educational arts for at-risk youth to spark creative thinking and awaken the entrepreneurial spirit.
Lalela is an isiZulu word that means “to listen”, and it is at the heart of what we do. By listening to children’s individual stories and each community’s needs, we are able to understand the challenges and, in turn, provide creative solutions.

Lalela commenced with 20 students in 2010, today we reach approximately 5500 throughout Southern Africa per week. Our primary communities of operation are Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg, Masiphumelele, Happy Valley, Melkbos, Pniel, Boschendal, Mfuleni, Zeitz Mocca in the Western Cape, Maboneng Precinct in Gauteng, Rorke’s Drift and Westville Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, Bulawayo in Zimbabwe & Hope North in North Uganda.

Our curriculum develops imagination and creativity that leads to innovation and solution-thinking. By activating whole-brain and creative thinking, we aim to encourage children to dream about a different future and provide them with the tools to map and manifest their dreams and goals, launching this possibility for themselves and their communities.

Every afternoon in the hours when children are most vulnerable to every kind of abuse, we work to break the barriers of challenge. We start early (age 6), in developing the art of imagination and we continue through grade 12 to connect the arts to everything important in a child’s life, from core academics to critical life skills.

As a result, we predominantly partner with no-fee or low-fee public schools in these communities, where art is not included in the core curriculum; we grow our programme through strategic-partnerships with other youth-development organizations that do not expose their youth to the arts.

This is where Lalela provides our arts education to help blaze the trail in whole brain thinking with a proven path to innovation and new job creation. Our programmes create permanent change with positive outlooks, community role models and the mindset for our learners to design a more certain future for themselves and their communities.
The students attending Lalela invariably live in informal settlements, communities that are ravaged by crime, poverty, gangsterism, HIV/ AIDS and physical abuse with severely limited service and utility provisions.
Lalela programs create permanent change with positive outlooks, community role models and the mindset for our students to design a more certain future for themselves and their communities.