The TRC and Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela: Claiming an Ordinary Female Space

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Abstract

Starring from an overview relating to the crucial role and ethical agenda of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this paper proceeds to investigate the narrative and representational strategies through which, in The Cry of Winnie Mandela (2003), South African writer and academic Njabulo Ndebele turns away from the "spectacular" towards a more nuanced and introspective dimension. While inspired by the TRC's hearings concerning gross violations of hu­man rights, this dimension foregrounds (black) women's endurance, suffering, and psychological distress. My essay highlights the lyrical intensity and open-minded approach informing Ndebele's portrayal of Winnie Mandela and the imaginary conversations that the (fictionalized) "Mother of the Nation" holds with other four women, whose historical models are similarly linked to the TRC's hearings. The theme of the "women-in-waiting" (for their husbands' return, but also for their voices to be heard) is examined in connection with the archetypal figure of Penelope, a West­ern myth which Ndebele borrows and moulds in African terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-100
Number of pages22
JournalAnglistica Pisana
VolumeXIII
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2018

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