Unhomeliness, unending phobias and liminality in Senait Mehari's Heart of Fire

Tembo, Nick M. (2017-04-28)

CITATION: Tembo, N. M. 2017. Unhomeliness, unending phobias and liminality in Senait Mehari's Heart of Fire. Literator, 38(1), a1292, doi:10.4102/lit.v38i1.1292.

The original publication is available at https://literator.org.za

Article

In Senait Mehari’s Heart of Fire, the legacy of childhood maltreatment is reproduced in the relationship between the father, Ghebrehiwet, and the daughter, Senait. A former victim of atrocity, Ghebrehiwet is a broken man with an identity that makes him transfer his traumatised childhood and his dissatisfaction with Eritrea’s political system to his family members. Because of these psychosocial issues, he gives his three daughters away to the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) to train and fight as child soldiers. Drawing on trauma studies, postcolonial theories as well as current research on child soldier narratives, this article examines Mehari’s depiction of her experiences with her father and, later, with fellow soldiers during the Second Eritrean Civil War. Specifically, it examines the concepts of unhomeliness and liminality, with reference to Mehari’s depiction of her anxiety in the tension-filled space of her parental home and the contingent ‘homes’ of the various ELF camps where she stayed as a child soldier. To that end, the article considers Mehari’s unending phobias as a recurring motif in Heart of Fire.

Ontheemtheid, oneindige fobies en liminaliteit in Senait Mehari se Heart of Fire. In Senait Mehari se Heart of Fire word die nalatenskap van mishandeling in die kinderjare gereproduseer in die verhouding tussen die vader, Ghebrehiwet, en die dogter, Senait. Ghebrehiwet, ’n voormalige slagoffer van wreedhede, is ’n gebroke man met ‘n identiteit wat tot gevolg het dat hy sy eie getraumatiseerde kinderjare en sy ontevredenheid met Eritrea se politieke sisteem op sy familielede projekteer. As gevolg van sy psigososiale kwessies, gee hy drie van sy dogters weg aan die Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) om opgelei te word en te veg as kindersoldate. Gebaseer op traumastudies, postkoloniale teorieë asook huidige navorsing oor kindersoldaatverhale, kyk die artikel na Mehari se uitbeelding van haar ervaringe met haar vader en later met haar mede-soldate gedurende die Tweede Eritrese Burgeroorlog. Meer spesifiek ondersoek dit die konsepte van ontheemdheid en liminaliteit, met verwysing na Mehari se uitbeelding van haar angs in die gespanne omgewing van haar ouerhuis en die opeenvolgende ‘huise’ van die verskeie ELF kampe waar sy as ’n kindersoldaat vertoef het. Met hierdie doel voor oë beskou die artikel Mehari se oneindige fobies as ’n herhalende motief in Heart of Fire.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104118
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