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Title:The Impact of Khomba: A Shangaan Cultural Rite of Passage: On the Formal Schooling of Girls and on Women's Space in the Chikombedzi Area in Zimbabwe
Authors:Chikunda, CharlesISNI
Marambire, ElinaISNI
Makoni, RichardISNI
Periodical:Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:girls' initiation
women's education
gender inequality
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Education and Oral Traditions
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Education and Training
Abstract:Based on ethnographic fieldwork over a 3-month period from December 2005 to February 2006 in Chikombedzi district in southeastern Zimbabwe, the authors assess the impact of Khomba, a Shangaan rite of passage, on the formal education of girls and on women's space in general. They see Khomba as a cultural curriculum to which females are exposed throughout life. The actual initiation ceremony is seen metaphorically as a graduation ceremony for an individual who has satisfied the requirements of the Khomba curriculum and who is now expected to conform to a suitable code of behaviour. The curriculum content of Khomba is designed along gender lines. It sets one form of knowledge as suitable for women and not for men. The Khomba ceremony seems to tell initiates that they are 'ripe' for marriage and hence diverts their attention from formal education. The curriculum teaches women to internalize their own subordinate status and diminishes their sense of their own rights. By so doing, Khomba restricts women's space both in terms of their condition and position in society. It limits women to the reproductive sphere. Khomba is part of the Shangaan epistemology. It is an integral part of these people's 'Ubuntu'/'Unhu' (humanness). The study recommends that the Ubuntuism framework be used to reform the Khomba curriculum so as to engender Shangaan cultural practice and create a gender responsive environment. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]