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Title:Gender inequality as a recurring theme in songs performed at a specific traditional and ritual ceremony in Zwelibomvu
Author:Zondi, Nompumelelo
Periodical:Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Geographic term:South Africa
girls' initiation
gender inequality
External link:https://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC132016
Abstract:This article presents material on Zulu 'umemulo' (girl's coming-of-age ritual) songs. It focuses on songs that respond to an incident which took place about a decade ago in the of village of Zwelibomvu on the outskirts of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The lyrics serve as a case study of how new 'memulo' songs and songs in other related genres emerge out of community-specific concerns. The article further examines the role of women in inadvertently perpetuating gender inequality in their societies. This is done by an exploration of songs composed by older women but sung by young maidens during such ceremonies. The songs condemn a fiancée for infidelity to her fiancé. Such condemnation in this society is commonly levelled against women, where infidelity by men is tolerated. The author argues that the root of this inequality lies in patriarchal social practices where male power is viewed as natural. Women feel themselves obliged to side with the men of their families in such matters, and to inflict punishment on other women. Whilst identifying the injustice of such condemnation, the author argues that song is a less damaging response to social deviance than violence. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]