South African Journal of African Languages

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The depiction of Mkabayi: A review of her praise poem

Norma Masuku


Various research projects have been conducted on the portrayal of women in the different genres of literature. Most scholars who focus on the depiction of women in literature agree that women are sometimes depicted unfairly in literature. Women are often stereotyped as the whore, the ingénue, the docile person, the femme fatale or the witch. The aim of this article is to depict Mkabayi’s character by analysing her praises. This type of research was also undertaken by Turner in 1988. Her published article entitled ‘Comparison of the izibongo of the Zulu royal women, Mkabayi and Nandi’ provides an in-depth analysis of the praises of these women. In her analysis, Turner focuses on the aspects of theme, poetic technique and historical allusions. The aim of this article is also to focus on the theme of Mkabayi’s praises, by accentuating her character. However, a different perspective will be adopted since this analysis intends to depict Mkabayi from a feminist perspective. The question this article intends to answer is whether Mkabayi’s praises reflect that she was accorded the respect and the honour she deserved as a female leader.

S.Afr.J.Afr.Lang.,2009, 2

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