“Digging Below the Surface” ‒ Ndebele Proverbs as a Reflection of Gender Roles in Ndebele Society

  • Sanelisiwe Sayi University of Zimbabwe


This article examines the significance of Ndebele proverbs in discoursing gender relations in Ndebele society. In most cases, gender relations in a particular society are reflected in novels, poems or drama texts. This article therefore, examines how Ndebele proverbs reflect on gender relations within Ndebele society and argues that focusing on novels, drama texts and poems alone might not allow a comprehensive exposition of gender roles in Ndebele society. Data collection for the study involved compiling a list of Ndebele proverbs from native speakers of isiNdebele and interviewing them in relation to the use of these proverbs. The researcher was also aided by intuitive knowledge of the language. The African Womanist literary theory was adopted in this study because of its emphasis on positive male-female relations for the betterment of the African family. Thus, an attempt is made in this article to offer solutions on negative male-female relations by searching deep into our past, since proverbs are reservoirs of discovered knowledge that is based on lived experience.