In many parts of Africa, the cultural practices and customs that were in use over the ages are still largely in place today. Many of these practices discriminate against individuals and compromise their human rights, particularly the rights of African women. The aim of this investigation is to study customary marital practices among the amaXhosa in order to establish their effect on modern amaXhosa society. In addition, this includes other discriminatory practices, such as the diminished status of wedded women. Within the study, the social status of women before and after 1994 is dealt with as depicted in the selected texts. The study further determines the current social status of married women under the current dispensation and finds out whether the rights of married women are sufficiently recognised in the texts under discussion. It is clear therefore that whilst Africa has made good progress on the political front, the same cannot be said for some of the cultural values that are still adhered to in the present age. This applies in particular to the rights of women in an African society. Globally, women and girls suffer the harmful and life-threatening effects of discriminatory traditional and cultural practices that continue under the guise of social, cultural and religious ceremonies. In the democratic South Africa, there is growing concern and awareness that some cultural practices are harmful to women and girls. The study analyses a number of texts namely, novels and drama, that were published before and after the 1994 era in South Africa with aims and objectives being outlined in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 is devoted to the theoretical framework, which includes the general theory pertaining to the status of women, feminism and human rights. Secondly, it deals with African theory pertaining to the status of African women as well as their rights; finally, it reflects on the role of women in societies where traditional marriage custom is still in use. Chapter 3 analyses the depiction of customary marriage as a theme in isiXhosa prose before and after 1994. Chapter 4 examines the depiction of customary marriage in isiXhosa drama before and after 1994 and focuses more on human rights elements. Chapter 5 summarises the arguments distilled from the analysed works. The researcher came to the conclusion that the practice of forced marriage does not occur in amaXhosa society only but it is also found on a wider scale on the rest of the African continent and beyond. The study was concluded with a set of recommendations that were made to combat the scourge of anti-feminism that is found in modern society.
Dr Pheliwe Yvonne Mbatyoti