A critical analysis of Mthunzikazi Mbungwana’s protest in ‘Ababuyanga’


Despite the substantial research on poetry produced by female Xhosa poets on sociopolitical issues, there is little commentary on their poetry on sociocultural issues in the post-apartheid era. As a result, their voice and role in sociocultural issues is misunderstood. Using textual analysis, this article critically analyses Mbungwana’s sociocultural protest in her poem ‘Ababuyanga’. The poem stems from the death of her brother, who went to initiation school and never returned. Mbungwana notes that her brother had not come back yet, as women, they were not supposed to talk about it or even ask what had happened at the initiation school. This article uses the theory of African feminism to consider Mbungwana’s protest against the sociocultural oppression of women. Mbungwana argues against keeping information from women and silencing them on issues of ulwaluko (loosely translated as male circumcision and initiation rites), even when they lose a loved one. She argues that women are intellectually capable of being part of the solution to the problem of dying initiates, without compromising the secrecy and sacredness of the custom. The analysis of Mbungwana’s protest contributes to the understanding of voice and the role of women in sociocultural issues.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117