Original Research

“Accused by the place and face of the other”: negotiations with complicity in the work of Antjie Krog and Yvonne Vera

J. Murray
Literator | Vol 30, No 3 | a85 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v30i3.85 | © 2009 J. Murray | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2009 | Published: 16 July 2009

About the author(s)

J. Murray, Centre for Culture & Languages in Africa, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This article examines how Antjie Krog and Yvonne Vera use literature to explore the issue of complicity in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Both societies have histories that are characterised by violence and trauma and neither society has engaged with these past abuses in a comprehensive way. Krog and Vera’s work reveal their awareness that a failure to deal with the pain of others in a responsible manner renders societies vulnerable to a repetition of past abuses. Any responsible engagement with the pain of others must involve acknowledging one’s own complicity in those abuses, regardless of how indirect one’s involvement may have been. By reading selected extracts of Krog and Vera’s work in terms of Mark Sanders’ theory of complicity, I illustrate how these authors facilitate a responsible engagement with the pain of their characters. The article will pay particular attention to how these authors expose broad complicity in the pain of individuals – individuals who are located at the intersections between racial and gender oppression.


Apartheid; Colonialism; Complicity; Gender; Antjie Krog; Yvonne Vera


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Crossref Citations

1. Mostly ‘black’ and ‘white’: ‘Race’, complicity and restitution in the non-fiction of Antjie Krog
Jacomien Van Niekerk
Literator  vol: 37  issue: 1  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/lit.v37i1.1264