Music and identity in Inxeba (The Wound): the exploration and disruption of representations

  • Travis McDowall


 This article explores the complex and interwoven nature of the scored and traditional music featured in the film Inxeba (2017) in an attempt to bridge these seemingly disparate sound worlds. In identifying their significance to the film’s narrative and plot devices, the article posits that ‘The Wound’ and ‘Somagwaza’ serve as important case studies when regarding the complex identity politics central to the film. ‘The Wound’, a ‘house track’, sub-culturally speaks to the struggles of gay men in the 1990s as they negotiated the identity politics of the time. ‘Somagwaza’ in stark contrast is a traditional Xhosa song that is performed during ulwaluko initiation ceremonies, and explicitly describes particular masculine traits for Xhosa men to embody in order to maintain the status quo of male behaviour. When analysed together, these pieces speak to the identity conflict experienced by three gay Xhosa characters in the film. With an outright rejection of queerness in both urban and cultural spaces as implied by the film and its score, further questions arise on queer identity in a broader South African context, and the spaces in which queer people are ‘allowed’ to exist.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-626X
print ISSN: 1812-1004