When Amalungelo Are Not Enough: An Auto-Ethnographic Search for African Feminist Idiom in the Postcolony
Nomalanga Mkhize (Nelson Mandela University) and Mathe Ntšekhe (Nelson Mandela University)

This paper attempts to understand the negative connotations of amalungelo – women’s rights – within the domain of African vernacular. We attempt to unpack the ways in which amalungelo are invalidated by neo-traditionalist discourse, and how the invalidation of amalungelo often occurs within the domains of African language and African traditions. We embrace a notion of African identity and culture to which we belong, and also unpack some of the contradictions this presents in the form of new traditionalisms (neo-traditionalism) that form and reform to justify patriarchy in modern Africa. Through conversation we search for a textured sense of the matricentric as offered by language and idiom, in the effort to further contribute to the ongoing work of building an African feminism. The paper sees itself as a non-linear exploration of ideas, with no pretentions to finding a concrete set of appropriate concepts for the ongoing search for women’s equality in Africa.