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Young African women and the Umhlanga ceremony : a case study in historical consciousness.

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In this study the historical consciousness of young African women as it relates to the Umhlanga ceremony was researched. As theorisation for historical consciousness the positioning of Angvik (1997), that it is the connection of interpretations of the past, perceptions of the present and expectations of the future were adopted. This study was motivated by the tension that was observed between the learning of official history as taught in school and unofficial history as related to the Umhlanga ceremony. Hence the following research questions were posed: What is the historical consciousness of young African women regarding the Umhlanga ceremony and why do young African women have the historical consciousness they have regarding the Umhlanga ceremony? This study was qualitative in nature and rooted in the interpretivist paradigm. I employed semi-structured focus group interviews and émigré perspectives to understand the historical consciousness of young African women as it related to the Umhlanga ceremony. It was found that the young African women did not have a collective historical consciousness related to the Umhlanga ceremony. It was rather a double consciousness that was ambiguous in nature about the future of the Umhlanga ceremony based on their present experiences. These experiences were influenced by, amongst others, tensions between traditional African ideas and Westernization; traditional customs and human rights as enshrined in the constitution and traditional rituals and commercialisation. Much of this could be attributed to the very limited sense of the past as it related to the Umhlanga ceremony which resulted in a historical consciousness which was not a neat agreed-upon master narrative.


M. Ed. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2014.


Zulu (African people)--Marriage customs and rites--South Africa., Virginity--Social aspects--South Africa., Rites and ceremonies--South Africa., Zulu (African people)--Sexual behavior--South Africa., Theses--Education.