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Traumatic memory, representation and forgiveness: Some remarks in conversation with Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull

Robert R. Vosloo
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 46, No 1 | a53 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v46i1.53 | © 2012 Robert R. Vosloo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2012 | Published: 28 September 2012

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Robert R. Vosloo, Department of Systematic Theology and Church History, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract

In light of Koos Vorster’s recent work dealing with themes such as memory, forgiveness and reconciliation, this article underlined the argument that a critical engagement with literary texts can be valuable to clarify and enrich a theological response to questions related to these notions. More specifically, the article focused on Antjie Krog’s profound and deeply moving engagement with the work and legacy of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in her book Country of My Skull (1998), that used the notion of forgiveness as lens for such an undertaking. Taking the cue from the poem with which the book ends, the article addressed questions such as ‘To whom is the plea for forgiveness addressed?’ and ‘Who is asking for forgiveness, and what must be forgiven?’ In the process attention was given to questions about the limits of representation and the need for an ethic of interconnectedness. The article suggested that these questions beg for further theological engagement.

Traumatiese herinnering, representasie en vergifnis: Enkele opmerkings in gesprek met Antjie Krog se Country of My Skull. In die lig van Koos Vorster se resente werk oor temas soos herinnering, vergifnis en versoening, het hierdie artikel die argument onderstreep dat ‘n kritiese interaksie met literêre tekste van groot waarde kan wees om die teologiese gesprek oor hierdie sake te verhelder en te verryk. Die artikel het meer spesifiek op Antjie Krog se diepsinnige en ontroerende bespreking van die werk en nalatenskap van die Suid Afrikaanse Waarheids- en Versoeningskommissie gefokus. Die konsep van vergifnis is as lens vir hierdie ondersoek gebruik. Gegewe die aard van die gedig waarmee die boek afsluit, is vrae soos ‘Aan wie word die pleidooi vir vergifnis gerig?’ en ‘Wie vra vir vergifnis, en wat moet vergewe word?’ aan die orde gestel. In die proses is aandag gegee aan vrae rakende die beperkinge verbonde aan representasie van trauma uit die verlede en die noodsaaklikheid van ‘n etiek van interverweefdheid. Daar is gesuggereer dat hierdie vrae ook om ‘n teologiese respons vra.


Keywords

Forgiveness; memory; representation; Antjie Krog; Country of My Skull; Koos Vorster

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