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Trauma, Resistance, Reconstruction in Post-1994 South African Writing


Edited By Jaspal K. Singh and Rajendra Chetty

The re-conceptualization of South Africa as a democracy in 1994 has influenced the production and reception of texts in this nation and around the globe. The literature emerging after 1994 provides a vision for reconciling the fragmented past produced by the brutality of apartheid policies and consequently shifting social relations from a traumatized past to a reconstructed future. The purpose of the essays in this anthology is to explore, within the literary imagination and cultural production of a post-apartheid nation and its people, how the trauma and violence of the past are reconciled through textual strategies. What role does memory play for the remembering subject working through the trauma of a violent past?


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D. Trauma, confession and autobiographies 149


D. Trauma, Confession and Autobiographies 9 Transmogrifying the Traumatic into the Democratic Ideal in Autobiographical Cultural Memory: Nelson Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom MIKE KGOMOTSO MASEMOLA WHEREAS MANDELA’S traumatic continuum is more crystallized in the deixes of the period beginning the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe (literally the Assegai of the Nation) in the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1961 and his renunciation of violence, together with the dismantling of the said military wing of the African National Congress in 1991, his becoming is better understood as a culmination of Mandela’s repetition of what was an embrace, one Orlando night in 1943, of lawyer and ANC activist Anton Lembede’s philosophy of Africanism. Significantly, Lembede’s Africanism was proudly predicated upon the self-reliance and great achievements of “such African heroes as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois and Haile Selassie” (Long Walk, 90). The transnational compass of the struggle was thus signposted by a redoubtable combination of diasporic political elements of cultural memory. According to Paul Gilroy, transnational black culture qualifies itself as a counterculture of modernity on the basis of a philosophical discourse that unites “ethics and aesthetics, culture and politics”. The 152 TRAUMA, CONFESSION AND AUTOBIOGRAPHIES same philosophical discourse finds poignant expression of unity in Mandela’s memoric repetition of Mqhayi the praise poet: “The assegai … is a symbol of the African as warrior and the African as artist” (Long Walk, 39). Almost two decades after the encounter with Lembede’s Africanism, its profound impact found greater expression in, and gave...

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