The Social Construction of Gender in Kiduo Dance Songs of the Wahehe in Iringa, Tanzania
This paper is an attempt to address the question of gender and the manner that it is constructed in the songs of Wahehe in Iringa, Tanzania. Kiduo dance songs are used as a case in point. The reason for picking Kiduo songs is grounded on familiarity. I participated in singing Kiduo songs as a child and later as a fully-fledged adult. Singing the aforesaid songs for such a long time and being exposed to gender issues I became conscious of the fact that some songs (not all) typecast women in different ways as reproductive devices, poor, weak, sexual outlets of men and individuals who cannot make proper decisions. As a member of the community and current a scholar, I strived to find answers to three questions: how women are constructed in songs of Wahehe; how the social construction is regarded as reality of women; and how this impacts lives of women. Findings for this research were collected through observations and focus group interviews. The paper uses the tenet of constructionism to argue that women in Kiduo songs are projected as dependents of men in decision-making. They are featured as poor and timid in a way that weakens their bargaining power. In some songs women are portrayed as sexual outlets of men and reproductive devices whose sense of purpose in life is void except for getting married and giving birth to children. Examining how women are constructed in Kiduo songs of Wahehe is a profound contribution this paper makes to the scholarship of gender and performance in Tanzania.2
Keywords: Gender construction, Kiduo dance, traditional dance, songs, Iringa.