Constructing “woman”: probing how the cultural practice of chinamwali among the Shangaan people is used to construct ‘womanhood’.
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This study aims to probe how the cultural practice of chinamwali among the Shangaan people is used to construct ‘womanhood’. The study probes the perceptions, understanding and lived experiences of the men and women who reside in the Mahenye community of Chipinge District (south eastern Zimbabwe) where chinamwali, (cultural rite of passage for girls and women) is practised. The study was premised on the understanding that the practice of chinamwali socially constructs or defines women in a particular (Mahenye) culture. Interview questionnaires and focus group discussions as well as observations were used to gather data from people in the Mahenye community in Zimbabwe. The study reveals that if a woman is not initiated she is considered no longer valuable in the community and tends to be a social outcast or to be excluded from several cultural activities.