By Shane Graham (auth.)
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Extra resources for South African Literature after the Truth Commission: Mapping Loss
In appropriating the stories of trauma and loss in the service of a nationbuilding agenda aimed at reassuring international investors, the TRC threatens to consign those memories to the “archive” of a safely contained history. This, even more than the false expectations created by a conception of truth-telling as simple excavation, is the greatest danger in the TRC as it was conceived in South Africa: ostensibly a mechanism for registering SPACES OF TRUTH-TELLING 31 and preserving a record of the past, the Commission might instead serve as a mechanism for obscuring and forgetting it.
His testimony, most likely calculated to establish a political motive for his activities as required for amnesty by the TRC Act, is a confusing assembly of old right-wing nationalist rhetoric and the new rhetoric of reconciliation and racial harmony. ’ . . 3 Psychiatrist Ria Kotze testifies that she has diagnosed Benzien as having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with symptoms including auditory hallucinations and memory loss. She tells the TRC that during his time with the Security Branch “he was torn by his belief that he was saving the lives of the public .
The play thus deploys a metonymic memorialization of the dead very similar to that used by Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum, in which one installation consists of a room full of rope nooses, one for every death row inmate executed for political crimes during apartheid. I take up displacement as a dramatic strategy in my next section on Ubu and the Truth Commission. For now, I also wish to note He Left Quietly’s meta-engagement with the very process of writing a play about such horrific experiences.
South African Literature after the Truth Commission: Mapping Loss by Shane Graham (auth.)