Some gendered African ritual practices : the case of impepho (an indigenous African plant).
This research work is about rituals practice, with specific reference to burning of impepho (an indigenous African Plant) and how this practice excludes women in general. Impepho is an indigenous African plant that, once dried, is burnt in order to communicate with one’s ancestors. Impepho is well-known to the majority of Sub Saharan Africans as it is used to communicate with their ancestors and it is also used by traditional healers to communicate with the deceased. It is used in various ceremonies, as well as in traditional feasts, when chickens, goats or cows are offered to the ancestors. The aim of this study was to find out why women are not allowed to burn impepho. Times have changed to the point that there are now many Zulu households that are headed by women, and these women do in fact burn impepho in order to communicate with their ancestors. This then is the pertinent question: do these women’s requests or prayers go unheard by the ancestors? The study aims to find out from the female participants if they burn impepho in their home or if they still adhere to this male constructed mentality that women should not burn impepho.