Esther and Felicity are lecturers in the English Department at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Our area of specialization is postcolonialism with a clear focus on African literatures and cultures. Nalubaale Creative Writing Workshop is an on-going project which aims at using creative writing as therapy for victims of gender violence.
This project stems from the belief that literature provides a space where knowledge can be explored both academically and emotionally. We are confident that before any creative writing can be carried out in an effective way, participants need to read and analyze how other writers have dealt with situations of gender violence, some of which can be highly explicit and therefore emotionally provoking.
For this specific project, we are primordially concerned with exploring the emotional side of knowledge as a first step to foster the participants’ empathy through a subjective appropriation of literary texts. On one level, our project should be understood as part of the extensive research already conducted on creative writing as therapy and, on another level, because of its specific African context, our study reveals the still unchartered potential of African literature as a site of therapy whereby dignity is restored to women’s wounded lives.
The role we play in this project is that of mere mediators since the true protagonists, the ones that turn plausibility into a reality are the women at Isis-WICCE. Being literature teachers, theoretically endowed with linguistic expertise, we must confess we find ourselves at a loss when attempting to capture the essence of Isis-WICCE. To say that Isis-WICCE is a well-known and extremely active women’s organization is an understatement; what we discovered in Isis-WICCE is a group of people whose warmth, dedication, generosity and sense of justice makes one believe that there is hope in humankind. It was our great pleasure to meet them, to work with them, to share their wisdom, witticism and extraordinary capacity to make one, regardless of national origin, skin color or language, feel at home. It is our pleasure to continue working with them, and together build up a space where writing paves the way towards healing and loving. They, the people at Isis-WICCE, preserve incredible stories of survival whose narratives are there struggling to take form, whose voices are claiming to be heard, whose memories pine for expression. Our mediating task is to let these stories out.