Transforming the traumatic life experiences of women in post-apartheid Namibian historical narratives

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University of Namibia Press
This chapter is based on the experience of interviewing five women, and writing and publishing their stories in a book with the title Tears of Courage: Five Mothers, Five Stories, One Victory.1 That book was published with the financial support of the Archives of Anti-Colonial Resistance and the Liberation Struggle (AACRLS) Project. The project was jointly funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the Republic of Namibia and administered under the auspices of the National Archives of Namibia. Published in 2009, the book brought out for the first time the hidden and untold sufferings of ordinary village women’s experiences at the hands of the apartheid military, police and prison guards, during the formative years of the liberation struggle. Namibian women played a pivotal role in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid as they fed, clothed, nursed, and acted as a shield for the freedom fighters. The women whose stories are in the book were all arrested by the apartheid police. One was beaten until she had a miscarriage, another imprisoned in Pretoria where she had to give birth in jail, another had her house destroyed and burnt to the ground and her husband killed, another was beaten and tortured when the police could not find her brother (who was on the police’s list of wanted persons), and the last was sentenced to a jail term in Pretoria along with her two brothers. In the epilogue of the book, John Otto Nankudhu, Commander of Omugulugwoombashe, SWAPO’s first military camp inside Namibia, which was attacked by the South African military in August 1966, stated: ‘It is gratifying to see the story of these women written down. They carry a history of our country we cannot afford to lose. I know some of these women very well because it was mainly due to them that we survived in northern Namibia and escaped arrest from the apartheid authority for a long time.’ As Beth Goldblatt and Sheila Meintjies argue, ‘Our society constantly diminishes the women’s role and women themselves then see their experiences as unimportant’ (1996).
Traumatic life, Post-apartheid, Historical narratives
Namhila, E.N. (2015). Transforming the traumatic life experiences of women in post-apartheid Namibian historical narratives. In J. Silvester (Ed.), Reviewing Resistance in Namibian History (pp. 22-37). Windhoek: UNAM Press