Lwandile Fikeni Reflects on the Silence in the Room During Sixolile Mbalo's Session at 2014 Open Book
“I’m also writing the story of other women who have been raped,” Sixolile Mbalo said about her book Dear Bullet: Or A Letter to My Shooter during an event at the 2014 Open Book Festival, where she joined Ekow Duker and Sindiwe Magoma to discuss the rape crisis in South Africa.
Lwandile Fikeni wrote an article for the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader in which he reflects on the discussion characterised by an upsetting lack of attendance and haunting silence. He writes: “For a country whose women are violently subjected to rape and abuse nearly every second of every minute you’d hope that when the opportunity arose for us to talk about violence against women a strong presence from all faces of society would show up ready to speak. Sadly, this isn’t the case.”
The discussion stayed with Fikeni as he walked home, thinking of Malo’s bravery in facing her perpetrator – a story shared in Dear Bullet. Read his article:
Reading the opening pages of Mbalo’s book before going to bed doesn’t quite prepare me for the following day’s session with her and fellow author, Ekow Duker. Sindiwe Magoma hosts the session and translates to English Mbalo’s isiXhosa. Here, I must commend her on her precise translation of isiXhosa to English. Nothing is lost in translation as Mbalo shares her ordeal as if picking a scab that hasn’t quite healed. The silence in the room quivers with the trembling in her voice as though she would at any given moment break into a terrifying whimper. But she doesn’t. Instead she speaks of bravery and a need for society to protect women from rape. She implores us to understand that life doesn’t end after you’ve been raped, that she is living proof of her assertion. “I’m also writing the story of other women who have been raped,” she says about her book.