• The Mirror of Colonial Trauma in Honwana’s Short Stories: The ‘Eye’ that Accuses and Incites

    Irene Marques (see profile)
    African literature (Portuguese), Portuguese speaking Africa, Africans--Social life and customs
    Item Type:
    Colonial Trauma, Literature and Politics, Luis Bernardo Honwana, Mozambique, Portuguese colonies in Africa, Lusophone African literatures and cultures
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    This article looks at the various ways in which the Mozambican writer, Luís Bernardo Honwana, displays colonial trauma and oppression in his short story collection, Nós Matámos o Cão‐Tinhoso, first published in 1964, and then in 1969 as an English translation with the title We Killed Mangy‐Dog and Other Mozambican Stories. Due to the scope of this study my analysis will concentrate on three stories from this collection: ‘Inventory of Furniture and Effects’, ‘The Old Woman’, and ‘Dina’. I show how the writer uses specific objects and actions to display the traumas and psychological fragmentation affecting colonial subjects and illustrate how those are directly linked to the brutality of the Portuguese colonial regime. Honwana's literature qualifies as ‘literature of the eye’. The author is more interested in ‘displaying’ than overtly ‘saying’ or explaining. His writing becomes what can be described as the acute optical surveillance of a failed regime that dehumanizes both oppressed and oppressor: it functions as the literal mirror of oppression, self‐oppression, unconsciousness, humiliation and trauma. By putting that mirror before our eyes the author is taking a firm stand against a highly inhumane regime, and informing the oppressed (and perhaps also the oppressor) about their own condition, and thus, one can argue, inciting them to take action against the regime responsible for such a condition. In the last two stories, special attention is given to self‐oppression, internalized oppression, and the various coping mechanisms developed by the colonized subjects and how these constitute symptoms of an alienated society – a society where individuals lose their spiritual, emotional, psychological and rational integrative connections, becoming unconscious beings who cannot be, or have great difficulty being, ‘whole’ again, ‘seeing’ the full spectrum of their lives and envisaging a ‘freer’ state of being.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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