Manche Masemola: Rebel or Revolutionary? Resistance and Subversion in the Manche Masemola Narrative
Keywords:Manche Masemola, revolutionary, rebel, resistance, Western clothing, native clothing, koma, initiation, baptism, syncretism
Manche Masemola’s narrative is predominantly a portrayal of a strong-willed character who faces brutal attacks for her commitment to her faith. She is described as a martyr, and eventually a saint. Her struggle to project her voice and willingness to make her own decisions are largely reported from one side, that is, from the perspective of the Church recounting how she defied her parents and community to accept the Christian religion. Commentators on this narrative miss Manche’s willingness to defy the same Church that was ready to promote her as a martyr. The purpose of this article is to argue that although Manche was described as an Anglican martyr, she was a revolutionary, and resisted the same Empire that hoped to colonise and Christianise her. She resisted colonial enslavement and continued to be initiated into koma, and refused to be baptised with Western clothing. Manche should be seen as a model for resistance against colonialism and female struggles against masculine dominance clothed in Christian education and conversion. The article uses archival records and secondary analysis to describe Manche’s pursuit to die for her commitment to her Sepedi culture. I will begin by examining Manche’s ritual journey to adulthood using koma, and conclude by discussing the pertinent question of why she was finally not baptised.
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