An exploration of how our country's brutal past shaped the lives of ordinary South Africans

By sharing their memories, the storytellers map the scope of the wider, more difficult conversation about the meaning of justice

30 April 2019 - 12:48
'These are the things that sit with us' is composed of stories that make visible the everyday experiences that shaped the lives of ordinary South Africans.
'These are the things that sit with us' is composed of stories that make visible the everyday experiences that shaped the lives of ordinary South Africans.
Image: Jacana Media

Our country has a complicated history, and this history has affected the present. These are the things that sit with us makes visible the undocumented everyday experiences that shaped the lives of ordinary South Africans during the country’s brutal and painful past.

It is a record of things that ‘sit’ within all of us. By sharing their memories, the storytellers map the scope of the wider, more difficult conversation about the meaning of justice and the missing parts of the discourse of reconciliation in South Africa.

It creates a space for a conversation about South Africa’s history and what it means to talk to and to hear the other within the context of this history.

In publishing each story in Xhosa, Afrikaans and English, we hope that the book will stimulate conversation among South Africans across languages.

"The cycle of hurt and bitterness needs to be broken. It is hoped that telling these stories may help to do that by making visible the lingering pain of apartheid. By publishing these stories, a small part of the healing may begin – for the storytellers and for all South Africans," says Bettina Wyngaard, author and former director of the Women's Legal Centre (WLC) in Cape Town.

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor and Research Chair at the Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation unit at Stellenbosch University. Gobodo-Madikizela’s work was influenced by the profound human moments of change and transformation which she witnessed while serving on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Friederike Bubenzer is the Senior Project Leader for the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Throughout her life, Bubenzer has been fascinated by the power of stories to connect people. Bubenzer’s participation in the project was fuelled by a longing to hear and document the memories of family members whose stories, real and imagined, have helped her to understand herself and the world around her.

Marietjie Oelofsen is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University. In an uncertain world, Oelofsen finds a constant in the power of stories – true or fictional, spoken or written down – to disrupt the truths she holds about who she is and what the world looks like.