South African Journal of African Languages

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Patriarchal self-inflated pompous image deflated: A feminist reading of Swartbooi’s UMandisa

Mfusi Cynthia Hoza


The purpose of the article is to examine how a female author, Swartbooi (1934), uses her female protagonist, Mandisa, to confront the harrowing conditions of the male-dominated 19th century Xhosa society and to unravel the female attributes that enable her to shatter the bigoted male pompous ego. The radical anti-patriarchal feminist narrative modes Swartbooi exploits, in order to achieve her revolutionary feminist agenda aimed at exposing the shallowness of male self-importance, constitute part of the article’s main preoccupation. This aspect of Swartbooi’s visionary creative objective is aimed at presenting the view that women are a major component of humanity and that their relegation to the society’s periphery undermine the societal well-being. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is how it ends. Mandisa’s rejection of the institution of marriage at the end of her fictional odyssey amounts to the most radical and rebellious stance of a 19th century African female protagonist, and could be described as the forerunner to the 21st century female protagonists in African women’s works. Swartbooi’s creative genius, the article argues, partially emanates from her demolition of the patriarchal institution of marriage through her female protagonist’s brazen rejection of marriage.

South African Journal of African Languages 2012, 32(1): 63–70

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