“Healing a Hurting Heart”: FEMRITE’s Use of Narrative and Community as Catalysts for Traumatic Healing
- Author(s): Stratford, Candice Taylor
- et al.
In 1996, a group of notable Ugandan women writers created FEMRITE, the Ugandan Women Writers Association. Over the last twenty years, it has become an essential element of Ugandan literary society, the largest and most successful women’s writing group in East Africa, and one of the most influential literary communities on the African continent. Because of cultural and political violence in the region, a large proportion of FEMRITE’s writings reflect various forms of trauma. This calls for engagement with trauma theories. I argue that through strategies of narrative recuperation and the establishment of communities, FEMRITE has created avenues for women writers, their subjects, and their readers to engender healing from trauma. After discussing FEMRITE’s social programs, such as interviewing war refugees or AIDS victims, I analyze two texts by FEMRITE author Beatrice Lamwaka to demonstrate the manifestations of trauma in her stories and the ways they are narrated, as well as the way Lamwaka uses narrative and community to work through her own personal trauma. Through an analysis of its organizations and publications, I show that FEMRITE offers a uniquely optimistic and socially persuasive approach to trauma and healing.