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A critical study of the life of Sibusisiwe Makanya and her work as educator and social worker in the Umbumbulu district of Natal 1894-1971.

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This is a study of the life of Sibusisiwe Makanya and her work as an educator and social worker in Umbumbulu, a peri urban area on the south coast of Natal. In this construction of her life I have referred to the Makanya Papers, housed in the Killie Camp bell Africana Library; the Rheinhallt Jones papers and the Bantu Youth League papers, housed in the South African Institute of Race Relations papers at the University of the Witwatersrand's Historical Papers Collection; the Forman Collection at the University of Cape Town; and the papers of the Second Annual Conference of the Zulu Society housed in the Natal Archives, Pietermaritzburg. There are no direct kith or kin alive today who could be interviewed to provide detailed perspectives about the life of Sibusisiwe. However, three people, who had known her, have been interviewed for information that sheds more light on the life and times in which she lived. Sibusisiwe Makanya's life demonstrates an interesting departure from what was generally perceived to be the status and role of women in African rural society in the early years of this century. To a considerable extent, she was among a vanguard--challenging an array of traditional and sexist array of forces blocking her path. Through this she created a space for other women to renegotiate or avoid the roles that their society had determined for them. This thesis is divided into six chapters: Chapter One positions Sibusisiwe Makanya in her historical period and attempts to answer some issues relating to representation and the nature of biographical writing as it has arisen in. South African Women's Studies and the concern relating to silences and lacunae in evidence regarding Sibusisiwe. Chapter Two deals with the life and work of Sibusisiwe before she left to study in the USA. Chapter Three discusses her sojourn in America and the educational and personal challenges she had to deal with. Chapter Four explores the nature of work she initiated as a social worker in a rural/ peri urban area of South Africa. Chapter Five discusses her work as she became more firmly established and as she became a role model fo other women, both for her dedicated community work and for her self actualisation. Chapter Six draws together the various themes discussed in the thesis and explains the relevance of Sibusisiwe's work for the new South Africa.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.