The Representation of Women in Kenneth Bhengu’s Novel Ukadebona: Iqhawe leNkosi
Keywords:Women, African novel, representation, fate, stereotypes
This article analyses the representation of women in the novel Ukadebona: Iqhawe leNkosi (Kadebona: The King’s Hero) by Kenneth Bhengu. The novel was written in 1958 at the height of apartheid and is set in an African society in the post-Impi yaseSandlwana era (post-Battle of Isandlwana era). The story is a biographical account by the protagonist, Kadebona, of his heroics and how fate thrust him into situations of both danger and opportunity. In analysing the novel both discourse analysis and thematic analysis are used. This article argues that women’s representation in the novel is ambivalent in that the author highlights both positive and negative characteristics of women. On the one hand, the author holds stereotypes about women such as those of other African writers, for example that they are weak, too sensitive, vulnerable and helpless. On the other hand, the author also represents women as deserving of love, as steadfast and as beings who must be protected from violence. The implication of these findings is that in Ukadebona: Iqhawe leNkosi women are not represented as equal to men. This differs from the current discourse of rights which advocates the equality of women and men. Also, the analysis is important because it highlights the literary work of Kenneth Bhengu whose literary contributions are largely unrecognised in South African literature.
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