One Response to Blog Entries Mentioning South Africa

  • Dear Mrs Walker,
    I cannot explain my feelings after reading your Overcoming Speechless, I think this is one of those insightful treasures which should be shared and read by all human being, by all those who feel so secure in their alien isolation from awareness. Thank you Mrs. Walker! I know you must have been told, many times Thank you, let me add my name to the long list of thanks you may have been received during your life. Sometimes I too was thanked for what I wrote, for what I witnessed as a white skinned child in a segregated South Africa in the seventies when apartheid was ruling. I was few months when my family moved to Johannesburg and I was thirteen when I migrated back to Italy, the most radical experience I had ever lived.
    Migrating from a ghost country, I asked myself if it was true I had been living in it. I knew it was true, but when I reached Europe at 14 none of my peers knew even where South Africa was as a geographical entity. I lived three four years in despair, trying to sew the enormous wound . Leaving what I had considered my country, leaving my affections, my friends, my nanny Sera (a second mother to me), leaving my being a witness of the grief that was racial segregation the world was ignoring leaving the country totally isolated in its pain, I fell apart. I found myself in a different world, even though it was the place where my family came from, Italy. It was to me like being thrown in the mouth of a ferocious beast without any possibility to escape and set myself free. No possibility except writing. I started writing and I’m still doing it.
    Soon I realized that there was no other way than words to heal that grief, that huge loss. I needed a larger view on the experience I was living, I needed to connect with the loss that was still haunting me with all its sorrows.
    So I can say writing came almost obvious to me. I remembered the first year in school when I reached Italy, it was tremendous. I remembered my school mates describing South Africa in a way I could not recognize, pretending to have themselves been there. They barely knew where South Africa was on the map. I told them that was simply at the South of the African continent, but still they didn’t get it and were still persecuting me with questions of no means. They pointed at me as a girl going to school following a long muddy path in company of elephants and zebras. Well, I wouldn’t mind, but it was not like that. Simply it was not true!
    From there up to now I never stopped trying to do what I always felt must be done, and hope one day to be able to say as you mention in one of your appearances, I’ve done it. The responsibility we take when we write is so grand, it embraces the entire world. It’ a secure path.
    Thank you for reminding how strong us women are, in front of the worst grieves. I have a friend from Rwanda who now lives in Italy with her three children, and she has told me things that belongs to that “bad” which seems to reside in every human been so deep to emerge in mysterious circumstances. I have been crying out my tears reading your words, the same tears I cried when I heard my friend telling me what had happened to her family being her the only one to witness and remember. I like to see those tears as my source of strength, because they generate what human being often seem to have lost: compassion.
    South African novelist Nadine Gordimer once wrote that we are not born brothers, brotherhood is something we learn how to build though respect, understanding, tolerance and knowledge. Since I became mother of three half kenyan daughters my responsability is fighting injustice in all its forms took me straight to the initial awareness of fighting racism and intolerance. Having known and seen the hand of racism as a witness I felt I was given that experience to fight it.
    Yes, your reflection lead to this very simple and important “need”, a need of which humanity must be very hungry for.
    Thank you Mrs. Walker
    Sincerely Yours Valentina A. Mmaka