Bahlabelelelani : why do they sing? : gender and power in contemporary women's songs.
Zondi, Nompumelelo Bernadette.
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Certain cultural practices present unspoken questions to women. While women may not be free to state these concerns upfront I argue that they have always had some means of expressing themselves in creative ways about issues that affect them. One issue that is investigated in this dissertation is the question of why women sing. This study, therefore, examines one of the channels, which are songs, that women and rural women in particular employ to deal with their day to day living. To this end I have selected cultural songs as one of the ways of demonstrating how women negotiate their spaces in the culture. The study is based on a community of women from Zwelibomvu near Pinetown, South Africa but goes beyond this as I believe that women in general speak for the majority of other women especially with regard to issues around gender and power inequalities. Songs have been selected as a genre and as a special form of expression that women in particular find easier to use to raise issues that affect them in their daily lives. The three hour DVD rendition that forms part of this study captures a synoptic view of the amount of raw data found in this study. Through the medium of song, and strengthened by the stories that they share, Zwelibomvu rural women are able to get a sense of relief and consolation from the burdens that they have and which they would like to share. Presented as a two part field work process, the first process involves the collection of songs in ceremonies and occasions and observing an d being part of the occasions and ceremonies where the songs that are sung by women are performed. This process culminates in the production of the three hour DVD rendition that forms part of this study and which captures a synoptic view of the amount of r aw data found in this dissertation. The second part mainly involves interviews of categories of respondents in similar settings/districts observed where ceremonies were attended and attempts to provide some insight into why women sing and the question of gender and power in contemporary women’s songs. Finally, the last chapters involve an analysis of songs with regard to themes that emanate from these songs as well as a review on their oral composition.