Defying the moulds of patriarchy: Nomambotwe Khawula of Umzumbe in Natal, 1860 – 1927.
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The Umzumbe mission station is probably one of the most beautiful and inspiring stations belonging to the American Board Mission. It is situated in the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal and surrounded by rolling hills, endlessly stretching for miles in every direction. The mission station was first conceived in 1861 by Elijah and Addie Robbins and later taken over by Henry and Laura Bridgman in 1869. Under their leadership a church, school and dispensary were all built and opened. The station was also run by Amy Bridgman Cowles, Laura Bridgman’s daughter, and her husband George Cowles from 1904. It was this family that have written and passed on the stories of some of the more prominent members of their congregation in Umzumbe. It is in critically evaluating both the author and the subjects of missionary writing that we can learn more about the stereotypes that people faced and their changing nature over the two generations of the three women examined: two of them defying the traditional moulds of patriarchy and the third as the storyteller.