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Voices from KwaNyuswa: a feminist perspective on the mourning cultural practice

Nhlanhla N. Mathonsi
Shamila Naidoo
Thandi C.D. Ndlovu


In 2006 the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) declared that “Indigenous women throughout the world are among the most marginalized groups” and that “paternalistic approaches to development have provided a social and economic environment whereby indigenous women have suffered from the effects of poverty, the breakdown of traditional social mechanisms and institutions, violence…”. This article, therefore, focuses on the mourning cultural practices of the Zulu-speaking women in the KwaNyuswa area of KwaZulu-Natal and thus provides insight into the attitude of community members towards the mourning cultural practice. Evidently, despite the existing contestation between indigenous and modern worldviews, ancient mourning practices continue to inform the indigeneity (indigenous identity) of women and men in KwaNyuswa.

Keywords: Mourning ritual, cultural practice, gender inequality, Zulu-speaking women, KwaNyuswa community, feminism