Mot et expérience de la traductrice de L’étrange alchimie de la vie et de la loi

Juge-Christine-SchurmansAuteure: Juge Christine Schurmans 
Ancienne Conseillère, Cour d’appel de Bruxelles et Présidente honoraire du Conseil de la concurrence (Belgique)


Bonjour à tous ! Un grand bonjour de Kigali !

Vous me voyez émue de participer à la présentation du livre « L’étrange alchimie de la vie et de la loi », en langue française. J’avais déjà rencontré Albie Sachs lorsqu’il m’a demandé si j’aimerais traduire son ouvrage et nous avions eu de nombreux échanges. Le connaissant déjà, j’étais certaine que j’allais vivre une belle aventure en découvrant sur papier ses pensées sur l’injustice, celles sur la justice, et en traduisant ses réflexions sur le rôle du juge en général, sur celui d’une Cour constitutionnelle en particulier. Mais cette aventure a dépassé toutes mes attentes ! Elle a pris aussi beaucoup plus de temps et je m’en excuse.

Bien que traduire ne soit pas mon métier, mon objectif était bien entendu de traduire le plus fidèlement possible. Le problème était que je m’arrêtais à chaque page pour réfléchir, méditer, faire des recherches, apporter quelques précisions historiques ou géographiques utiles pour le lecteur. Je restais aussi en dialogue avec Albie Sachs dès que j’avais un doute ou une question et l’auteur s’est montré très patient !

Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law by Albie Sachs – French Edition

Emmanuel-de-GroofAuthor: Emmanuel de Groof 
Former Albie Sachs’ Law Clerk, South African Constitutional Court

Bonjour tout le monde, particulièrement au monde francophone. C’est un honneur de pouvoir co-introduire ce vernissage du livre L’étrange alchimie de la vie et de la loi du Juge Albie Sachs. Aujourd’hui, ce livre a toute sa pertinence. 

More than 10 years ago, in 2008, I had the honour to work as a law clerk for Albie Sachs. My work as a clerk was double. On the one hand, I worked with and for Albie in doing research for the book published in 2008, The strange alchemy of life and law with Oxford University Press. On the other hand, I did my regular work as a law clerk on the cases that were then pending. One idea is very central to the work I could then do, together with other law clerks, in Albie Sachs’ chamber: in French we would say, ‘de la confrontation des idées jaillit la lumière’. It’s the simple idea that by confronting ideas – by communicating, by debating, by being honest – you will get, not to an absolute truth but at least closer to an idea of justice and truth.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law by Albie Sachs – French Edition – Welcoming remarks and tribute to Professor Christof Heyns (Traduction française en bas du texte)

Justice-Albie-SachsAuthor: Justice Albie Sachs 
Author & Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

This edition is remarkable in many ways. 

To begin with, it has been published by the Centre for Human Rights (Centre) at the University of Pretoria, the university that was once the brain, the soul and the heart of apartheid thinking.  What a brave effort it had been in the 1980s, when Mandela and others were still in prison, people like myself were in exile and the country was suffering from one State of Emergency after another, for Professors Johann Van der Westhuizen and Christof Heyns to establish the Centre.  Then, after democracy was achieved, Johann went on to become a colleague of mine on the South African Constitutional Court, while Christof took over the Centre’s leadership. The main thrust of his work was to link the Centre with lawyers, law teachers and students throughout the African continent.  Christof died earlier this year.  We still feel the shock at the passing of a most remarkable person.  He was humane, he was funny, he was hardworking.  He had a quiet passion, and there was absolutely no showoff at all in anything that he did.  He made impossible things possible.  He worked with equal ease and success all over the African continent, at Geneva, and for the United Nations. The clash of ideas enthralled him. Nothing about human life was ever banal; any team he ever headed found the discussions enthralling. It was fun – the more intractable the subject matter, the more exciting and joyous the extraction of serviceable and meaningful truths.  Wherever he went he brought with him this creative, participatory style of work.  And one of his special projects was to connect up English-speaking and French-speaking lawyers in Africa.  This French language edition of the book is dedicated to him.

Read the rest of this entry »

The function of constitutional judges and judicial philosophy in Africa: Introduction to the special issue

Author: Trésor Makunya Muhindo 
Postdoctoral Fellow and Publications Coordinator, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria


This special issue is devoted to the function of constitutional judges and judicial philosophy in Africa through the lens of Justice Albie Sachs’ judicial philosophy. It emerges from presentations made by speakers at the virtual book launch of the French translation of Albie Sachs’ book ‘The strange alchemy of life and law’ (2021) organised on 19 November 2021 by the Pretoria University Law Press.

This issue is divided into three main parts. In the first part, Judge Albie Sachs and Emmanuel De Groof provide the background to the translation of the book. The book aims at bridging the divide between the common law and civil law legal traditions that African legal systems inherited through colonialism. The divide between the two legal traditions is so great that it seems African lawyers and judges based in the common law tradition and those from the civil law tradition operate in a completely different world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Did the recently concluded South Sudan’s fifth Governors’ forum address the elephants in the room?

Joseph-Geng-AkechAuthor: Joseph Geng Akech
South Sudanese human rights lawyer and PhD candidate, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Garang-Yach-JamesAuthor: Garang Yach James
South Sudanese Political and security analyst and PhD Student, University of Juba, South Sudan



The government of the Republic of South Sudan recently organised a week-long conference of its 10 State Governors and Chief Administrators representing the three Administrative Areas. The aim was to discuss the role of States and local governments in the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). After a week of intense deliberations, the Forum released resolutions and recommendations on various aspects of peace, governance, social services and economic reforms. This paper critiques the Forum’s outcome arguing that the Forum failed to address the ‘elephants in the room’. For instance, the resolutions and recommendations did not articulate and in some instances, failed to mention, as priorities, aspects of the transitional security arrangements, transitional justice, permanent constitution building, humanitarian assistance and the return of internally displaced people and refugees as well as institutional and law reforms.

Read the rest of this entry »