A post-colonial and feminist reading of selected testimonies to trauma in post-liberation South Africa and Zimbabwe
This article explores the testimonial significance of Antjie Krog and Yvonne Vera's work by considering the extent to which their choice of literary fiction facilitates and enables the urgent political and social intervention that their texts undertake. Their work responds to the violence in the Zimbabwean and South African contexts from and about which they write. This violence, which is a recurring theme in their work, is physical as well as psychic and results in traumatized individual and collective identities that pose particular challenges to representation. The role that the witness to trauma plays is an active one that carries its own responsibility. The onus that rests on the witness is related to the traumatic nature of what is being testified to. The article provides a detailed exploration of the dynamics that are involved in the process of witnessing trauma. Since traumatic events cause an overflow of the cognitive system, it is not comprehensively experienced by the victims at the time when it occurs. It can only be fully ?known? in the aftermath of the event and then when it is being received by an empathetic listener (or reader). Vera and Krog use literature to enable the reader to endure the pain and difficulty that come with being an active participant in the creation of new knowledge when that knowledge concerns a traumatic event.