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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Women are women or how to please your husband: initiation ceremonies and the politics of 'tradition' in southern Africa
Author:Geisler, GiselaISNI
Periodical:African Anthropology (ISSN 1024-0969)
Geographic terms:Mozambique
Subjects:girls' initiation
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Abstract:The competition over what is and should be 'tradition', be it invented, modified, or reinforced, has largely been the prerogative of men, and it has been used by men to ensure their control over women. But, discussions around the future of 'lobola' (bridewealth) in South Africa exemplify the fact that African women have at times appeared as the custodians of 'tradition' and thus the agents of their own subordination. The present author looks at African women's agency in the making and remaking of 'traditions' through a study of girls' initiation ceremonies in Zambia and Mozambique, and unravels some of the factors that might be interpreted both as women's 'culture' and as women's oppression. She considers the actions and reactions of women and men for and against girls' initiation ceremonies and the preparations for mute wifehood they often represent, as well as the political contexts in which these ceremonies marking the transition from girlhood to adult womanhood have occurred and the contrasting government stance, official praise in Zambia and official banning in Mozambique. Notes, ref.