What happens in the forest? Memory, trauma, repression and resilience amongst Congolese Refugees living in Durban, South Africa
Tschudin, Alain Jean-Paul Charles
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A project entitled ‘Dialogics and the pursuit of solidarity’ brings together Congolese refugees and Zulu street traders and students who reside in the inner city of Durban, South Africa. The first phase was referred to as ‘Voices’ and allowed participants to share their unique life-stories with us. Our adult female Congolese participants reported having suffered experiences of violence, most extreme, before leaving the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Several of the men referred to traumatic incidents that were endured ‘in the forest’, but one of these, an elderly gentleman, referred to these as ‘unspeakable’. What happens in the forest, and why are these memories so unbearable? Is it a case of what transpires in the forest remains in the forest? Or is it that these experiences remain repressed in the mind; geographically remote from the forest, but embodied as an ever-present menace if revealed or exposed? Despite the immense trauma that has been lived by our participants, our study indicates a tremendous resilience on their part and an adaptability to life contexts that remain hostile, and at best uncertain.
Tschudin, A. 2015. What happens in the forest? Memory, trauma, repression and resilience amongst Congolese Refugees living in Durban, South Africa. Alternation. 22(2): 56-72.