Original Research

Just when we thought we were producing fine young men

Nompumelelo B. Zondi, Thulani J. Mbuli
Literator | Vol 37, No 1 | a1160 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v37i1.1160 | © 2016 Nompumelelo B. Zondi, Thulani J. Mbuli | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 October 2014 | Published: 26 May 2016

About the author(s)

Nompumelelo B. Zondi, Department of African Languages and Culture, University of Zululand, South Africa
Thulani J. Mbuli, Department of African Languages and Culture, University of Zululand, South Africa


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Abstract

Literature is highly influenced by society and cultural contexts in which it is produced or read. It is a reflection of how a particular society constructs reality. The values, beliefs and norms transferred from one generation to another reflect, in the main, that society’s way of life. When creative writers use verbal art forms like novels, short stories or drama, they do so in order to create an allusive and fictitious setting which enable them to comment on contemporary issues without blatantly seeming to do so. In this sense it becomes a prerogative for artists to remark on what is happening in communities without being directly confrontational. In our view, it is also their responsibility to approach literature from an angle that reflects changing times, thus challenging anything that is contrary. In 2013 we involved our final year undergrad literature class in a project whose aim was to sensitize them on gender disparities still affecting our society today. Five of nine groups comprising ten students each – both men and women-chose to study the work of an acclaimed Zulu writer, D.B.Z. Ntuli (1982). Based on the comments of the male students in those groups the discussion was stretched to the entire class. It was perturbing to discover that we are still producing male students who are not sensitive to gender disparities. In this article we argue that indifference displayed by these young men where issues of gender were concerned call for attention. This article presents the callous treatment of women characters in the selected short story and examples of comments made by male students on their reading of the text. We also contend that we are still far from reaping the fruits of our hard -won democracy given that Zulu men in the study still seems to lack an understanding of basic human rights. Their failure to understand obvious gender-based violence as an intolerable social ill.

En ons dog ons lewer pragtige jongmanne op. Literatuur word sterk beïnvloed deur die sosiale en kulturele konteks waarin dit ontstaan en gelees word. Die waardes, sienings en norme wat van een geslag na ‘n volgende ‘oorgedra word, reflekteer oor die algemeen die gemeenskap se lewenswyse. Wanneer kreatiewe skrywers literêre vorme soosromans, kortverhale of dramas gebruik, skep hulle dit ‘n betekenisvolle denkbeeldige situasie wat hulle in staat stel om kommentaar op aktuele sake te lewer sonder dat dit blatant so voorkom. Sodoende word dit kunstenaars se prerogatief om kommentaar te lewer op wat in hulle gemeenskappe gebeur sonder om direk konfronterend te wees. Ons siening is dat dit ook hulle verantwoordelikheid is om die letterkunde te benader op wyses wat die veranderende tye weerspieël en wat die teendeel konfronteer. In 2013 het ons ’n projek met ons finalejaars (voorgraads) in die letterkundeklas aangepak wat ten doel gehad het om hulle te sensitiseer vir die bestaan van geslagsverskille in ons huidige samelewing. Vyf van die nege groepe van tien studente elk – mans sowel as vroue – het gekies om die werk van die befaamde Zoeloeskrywer D.B.Z. Ntuli (1982) te bestudeer. Op grond van die kommentaar van die mansstudente in die groepe is die bespreking uitgebrei na die hele klas. Dit was ontstellend om te ontdek dat ons steeds mansstudente oplewer wat nie sensitief is vir geslagsongelykhede nie. In hierdie artikel argumenteer ons dat die onverskilligheid van hierdie mans oor geslagskwessies, drastiese maatreëls vereis. Die artikel beskryf die hardhandige optrede teen vroue in die gekose teks, en ontleed voorbeelde van die kommentaar van mansstudente by die lees van die teks. Ons betoog dat ons nog lank nie die vrugte van die swaar- verworwe demokrasie pluk nie, aangesien die jong Zoelemans in die studie grootliks steeds ‘n gebrek aan begrip van basiese menseregte toon. Hulle gebrek aan begrip vir geslagsgebaseerde geweld is onverskoonbaar.

Keywords: Literature; Young men, future fathers and leaders; Zulu society; Gender based violence; D.B.Z. Ntuli

 


Keywords

Literature; Young men, future fathers and leaders; Zulu society; Gender based violence; D.B.Z. Ntuli

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