n African Journal of Rhetoric - Registers of traumatic speech : rhetorical analysis of untold stories

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


The registers of speech can be broadly understood as the symbolic order of things in the post-apartheid condition, that is, hegemonic ideas and discourses which are institutionalised, naturalised and normalised. This symbolic order of things is seen as a way of transcending the suffering that was caused by apartheid; and in the post-apartheid era, the register of speech moves away from suffering. This way of looking at suffering places blame within the person, almost assuming that an individual has the power to avoid suffering. However, I will suggest that suffering is structural as opposed to being that which is in the realm of the individual and as such it is linked to the embodiment of being. Therefore suffering creates the traumatic speech which is the untold story which when articulated is delegitimated by the symbolic order of things as the subjectivity of victimhood. In the symbolic order of things within the democratic South Africa, those who have endured suffering and experienced various forms of trauma are often spoken on behalf of and as a result denied subjectivity. This can be seen in processes such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which aimed at opening up a safe space for the expression of pain, anger and frustration with the hope of a move towards healing and forgiveness. The master narrative of forgiveness and forgetting assumed healing and closure, thereby denying space for the articulation of other untold stories. This article will argue that apartheid created multiple forms of suffering which ultimately led to traumatic lived experience of those who were oppressed.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error