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15 Jun 2018 00:00
Lethabo Mailula is an LLM candidate and gender activist working at the University of Pretoria (Oupa Nkosi)
At the launch of red cotton and feeling and ugly by Impepho Press, I realised how comforting it is to push your traumas away and have them exist in the periphery of your life.
I realised how confronting your traumas, through a device such as writing, actually makes them tangible. That idea seemed like a daunting re-traumatisation of myself.
Um yeah, I suppose at that moment, being in the African Flavour bookstore with the authors, I saw how it can initially present itself as a re-traumatisation.
But sharing such words and sharing such traumas in a communal space — where those people share or might be sympathetic to what you have experienced — might be a healing experience.
It’s sort of like attending to a wound that has been festering under a Band-Aid.
Writing as healing forces you to articulate feelings that exist subconsciously. It simultaneously creates an element of escapism, because you can allocate the traumas and experiences to a fictional character, which creates a safety buffer through anonymity. The exercise is paradoxical as it forces healing while simultaneously creating a safe space if the writer is not ready to own the story. Writing as a healing exercise also holds a space for ownership and self-actualisation. Writing does a looooot!
Being there, I realised that writing as a device is a necessary roughness. It’s a necessary painful process that you have to undergo in order to heal. I will be attending to my wounds. — Lethabo Mailula (24), an LLM candidate and gender activist working at the University of Pretoria, as told to Zaza Hlalethwa
Read more from Zaza Hlalethwa
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