When the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held its first public meetings in April 1996, no one knew what to expect. On the opening day, the hall was packed, mostly with black people, under a banner which proclaimed the commission as ‘Healing Our Past’. The Chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, shook hands with those who would testify and the relatives who came with them. He lit a candle in memory of all who had died in the country’s past and a colleague read out a commemorative roll of honour. Everyone sang the hymn Lisalis’ idinga lakho (‘Let your will be done’), which had been sung too when Nelson Mandela, now the country’s President, had first met his African National Congress colleagues on his release from 27 years in prison. There were prayers, and a general welcome. The first witness took the oath, was welcomed and invited to sit before she chose the language she wished to speak in.