South African Journal of African Languages

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‘The place of a woman is in the kitchen’: Individualism versus communalism in Belebesi’s UNongxaki nezakhe

Mfusi Cynthia Hoza


The denigration of women to an inferior status in Xhosa society – a patriarchal communal system of oppression that confines women to the domestic space – is the focus of Gertrude Belebesi’s (1976) UNongxaki nezakhe (‘Nongxaki’s troubles and struggles’). The main objective of this article is to interrogate the contentious modern society’s attitudes towards the individual rights of women which are in opposition to the traditional communal ‘values’ that their patriarchally dominated communities have prescribed for them. It will further investigate whether the traditional communal ‘values’ allow women to reject a man chosen by their family for them to marry; and the need for women to receive formal education in order to be able to make informed decisions on what constitutes their individual rights. The article adopts the theoretical framework of Showalter’s (1979) theory of gynocriticism. The article argues that Belebesi has self-consciously created a number of innovative feminist writing techniques that have enabled her to voice her radical anti-patriarchal agenda aimed at challenging male-dominated social constructions that have impacted negatively on Xhosa women’s individual rights and happiness since ancient times.

South African Journal of African Languages 2013, 33(1): 29–37
AJOL African Journals Online