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Motherhood in Children’s Drama: Selected Cases from Collections on Shona Children’s Literature

Godwin Makaudze


Motherhood is a construct that is highly criticised especially by feminist scholarships for its alleged subordination, marginalisation and oppression of women. Motherhood as a position and its associated responsibilities are lamented and excoriated as the root causes of women’s disempowerment, docility and invisibility in society. Feminists also conceive motherhood as a position of the feminine that has little influence and is fraught with physical and emotional weaknesses. Using Africana womanist literary theory, this paper is an analysis of motherhood as conceived and conveyed through selected pieces of drama from Scheu, Hamutyinei and Musa’s Mitambo yavadiki navakuru, and Gelfand’s Growing up in Shona society: From birthto marriage, which are collections of Shona children’s literature, with the intent to ascertain this ethnic group’s attitude to and perception of the position, its roles and significance. The paper observes that among the Shona, motherhood is far from being an oppressive and disempowering position – it is a position associated with admiration, power, influence and affluence, important responsibilities, and hence, with visibility and significance. More so, it is not limited to femaleness; it is a fluid and flexible concept that allows even males to assume the same position and social responsibilities. The paper concludes that observations and assertions by Western-oriented scholarships need to be critically examined before being accepted as universal truths, and that indigenous cultures should be researched to establish their perceptions and conceptualisation of reality. It recommends that the appreciation of indigenous cultures’ conceptualisation of reality be approached from the point of view of participants of the culture in question, not outsiders.


motherhood; Shona; children’s literature; drama; disempowerment; marginalisation

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