Articulating the Unsayable: An Exploration of ”Visible Voices” in Sifiso Nyathi’s the Other Presence


  • Nelson Mlambo University of Namibia
  • Colletta Kandemiri University of Namibia



Articulation, contemporary life, fiction, silenced, unsayables, Sifiso Nyathi, Namibian literature


This paper explores the insightful nuances about narratives and contemporary life from the award winning Namibian writer, Sifiso Nyathi. The paper arises from the realisation of the paucity of literature in Namibia to tackle sensitive issues and the more often peripheral recognition of the power that fiction has to comment and bring insight to socio-cultural and economic issues. The chosen methodology is literary analysis and the concern that informs this paper is on how narratives demonstrate an apt ability to communicate concerns and sensibilities that both haunt and inspire contemporary societies. The paper demonstrates how literature (fiction) and language open up fissures to spell out the ‘unsayable’, the taboo, and the often whispered and not yet said “other presence” in contemporary life. This is a way of questioning, voicing, re-examining and articulating certain truths which are supposedly veiled and unrepresentable, whose grammars of articulation often evade quantitative analysis. Through the chosen novel, the paper projected the ‘multivoiceness’ of literature in as much as it represents the gamut of HIV/AIDS in conservative communities, the contested terrain of superstition, the supernatural, belief and witchcraft. The ultimate conclusion is that literature is a powerful tool for the articulation of core concerns and issues in contemporary Africa and that through his novel; Nyathi managed to make visible the qualitative facets of life like pain, bereavement, culture, HIV/AIDS, religion and stigma. It suffices therefore say that educational, cultural, the civic society and policy makers heed the wisdom enshrined in the creative arts in order to find multifaceted ways of handling the horrors faced by the people on a daily basis.

Author Biographies

Nelson Mlambo, University of Namibia

Senior LecturerDepartment of Language and Literature

Colletta Kandemiri, University of Namibia

Language and Literature Studies


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