National Identity and Xenophobia in Kopano Matlwa’s Period Pain


  • Nick Tembo University of Malawi



Kopano Matlwa, xenophobia, othering, psychotraumatology, Period Pain, apartheid


Sigmund Freud describes hate as an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness. Hatred is a form of animosity, frustration and hostility, often giving rise to a psychological descent into violence. This essay seeks to explore how Kopano Matlwa mediates notions of xenophobia in Period Pain to determine whether the narrative offers ways of reimagining relations between the “locals” and “outsiders” in South Africa. I am specifically interested in how Matlwa engages with the processes of othering in her third novel. I question how Matlwa employs language to “move people against other people.” I use the core concept of psychotraumatology to argue that the textures of hatred inscribed in Matlwa’s text are internalised echoes from apartheid culture and practices, which live out in the present social moment. Finally, I interrogate the extent to which Matlwa’s text might allow us to understand how she rewrites a new South Africa.


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How to Cite

Tembo, Nick. 2021. “National Identity and Xenophobia in Kopano Matlwa’s Period Pain”. Imbizo 12 (1):17 pages.



##plugins.generic.dates.received## 2020-03-31
##plugins.generic.dates.accepted## 2021-01-18
##plugins.generic.dates.published## 2021-04-26