I chose this image because it embodies a lot of what I feel that this chapter has to say about the suffering and healing of the people in South Africa. There are so many tears shed in this chapter. Tears fall from the eyes of those recounting their stories of terrible hardships, tears from the eyes of those in the workshop who are listening, and then tears from all those in the audiences who hear these retellings of horror. However, not all of these tears come from only places of sorrow. There are also tears of joy, of healing, and of reconciliation. It’s extremely moving to hear people tell these stories and to watch them break down. You can see from these displays of emotion the true impact that these events had on them. In return, there is often a reaction from the audience that is emotional as well because they begin to share in and feel the brokenness of the person in front of them. Then through this sharing of stories and emotions there is a sense of connection to each other that breaks through the walls of loneliness and alienation that are so harmful to a person’s healing. The author restates one poet’s opinion on page 140 saying, “For ‘one brief shimmering moment,’ in the midst of tears, ‘this country’ was also ‘truly mine.’ Her response, her emotion, felt like a form of sentimental citizenship.” She then goes on to say that rather than being about separation, the nation’s citizenship “resided in an emotional landscape as responsive listening created national belonging.” (140) Not just hearing the stories being told but the emotional connection that came with them was what made this community strong.
What is Monwa’s story?
Monwa’s story is one of transformation from despair to hope and healing. When we first meet him and hear his story, he seems sad and broken. The author says of his stature while telling his story, “No longer standing at six feet, Monwa seemed to have collapsed; dropping his eyes to the floor and hanging his head, he suffocated in the memory of pain and shame.” (130) The Monwa that readers meet is so destroyed by the events he’s endured and witnessed that he cannot even hold his head up anymore. Monwa was mistaken to be an important part of the resistance because his friends had nicknamed him “the general.” He endured years of electrocution and torture so intense he was unsure he’d ever be able to have children. Through all of this horror though, Monwa was strong and he came through these events to then share his story with the world. Monwa met his wife and he had a child, yet part of him was still strained by his past experiences and he was unable to fully get free of the feeling that his body and his youth had been stolen from him in Angola, the South African prison. Then Monwa joined the theatre and performance workshop where he got to tell his story to the people of his country and the world. He shared his pain with others and through that, was finally able to rid himself of the chains holding him back. Monwa said at the conclusion of his act on stage during the play, ” Now I am married and have a son. And I am free.” (132) Monwa goes from a youth that gets put into a prison, is tortured to the point of wanting to commit suicide, to a loving family man who was freed in his ability to share these things with the world. Monwa’s story is one of hope that needs to be shared with all the word.