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Izigiyo as performed by Zulu women in the KwaQwabe community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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This study investigates the content of izigiyo (specified personified solo dance songs) texts that Zulu women perform at social occasions in KwaQwabe, a rural area near KwaDukuza (Stanger) in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Though this study focuses on izigiyo, the KwaQwabe have different oral performances that are performed at specific social occasions. In the KwaQwabe area there lives people who practise subsistence farming. The common crops that they (especially women) grow are maize, beans, groundnuts and imifino (herbs). The cattle and goats that the KwaQwabe men keep are mostly slaughtered for the amadlozi rituals. The study proposes that izigiyo as oral texts are largely responses to issues of heritage, culture, women abuse and domestic violence that lead to pent-up emotions, envy, witchery, gossip, and malpractices that can destroy a community-oriented life-style (Turner, 1998) that features in most African communities. The study hypothesises that Zulu women of KwaQwabe need to be treated with dignity and inhlonipho (respect) within the parameters of the Zulu tradition (Msimang, 1975). The study explores issues surrounding the izigiyo performance in order to establish whether Zulu women have always been silent (Bukenya, 2001) when it comes to issues that affect their lives, pertaining to issues that impinge negatively on their lives (Gunner and Gwala, 1991). The intended receivers of the messages (Ndoleriire, 2000) are always implied in the izigiyo texts and aim at serving as social regulators (Gumede, 2000). The language of izigiyo is in most cases metaphorical so as to avoid confrontation. In the midst of the izigiyo expression men and women relay their perceptions, experiences, and feelings about the way of life in their families and communities at large. This study, however, limits itself to the izigiyo texts that are enacted by Zulu women and does not include men’s.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2009.


Folk songs, Zulu., Folk dancing, Zulu., Zulu (African people)--Rites and ceremonies., Women, Zulu., Theses--isiZulu.