Controversial Contradictions in Testimonies about Manche Masemola

The Challenge of Variability in Oral History

Keywords: Variability, Manche Masemola, Martyrdom, Controversial, Contradictions, Variations, Testimony, Oral history


This paper argues that although efforts have been made to construct Manche Masemola’s martyrdom to enforce and consolidate the church’s religious gains in Sekhukhuneland, her story represents a complex relation of voices that (un)wittingly contradict each other. The voices range from primary to secondary sources that continue to tell Manche Masemola’s story, especially on the internet. The narrative of her martyrdom is riddled with contradictions and conflicting oral evidence. This paper explores these variations, which are a feature of oral tradition, and explains how such contradictions complicate the establishment of factual evidence based on oral history. Oral and secondary data were used, as well as available documentary materials published on various websites, to explain how these contradictions have been employed to create a religious martyr in the person of Manche Masemola. The available narratives were subjected to textual analysis, borrowing from folklore and post-structuralist literary theoretical approaches to understand the controversies embedded therein.

Author Biography

Sekgothe Mokgoatšana, University of Limpopo

Professor in Literature and Folklore Studies