Women's voices, women's lives: Qwaqwa women's experiences of the Apartheid and post-Apartheid eras

  • Munyaradzi Mushonga University of Lesotho
  • Tsenolo M. Seloma University of Lesotho
Keywords: Qwaqwa, Mopeli, Subaltern, Liberation, Rural, Urban, Apartheid, Post-Apartheid, Dependency, Discrimination, Street vending, Gender, Violence, Vroue, Ondergeskikte, Vryheid, Platteland, Stedelik, Afhanklikheid, Diskriminasie, Straatverkope, Geslag, Geweld


Spivak’s (1988; 1995) famous question, “Can the Subaltern speak” holds important connotations about many people living on the margins of society. It has greater significance for the sexed subaltern subjects who cannot speak and who cannot be heard because they are doubly-oppressed. In many post-liberation regimes on the African continent this is a troubling question. It is a troubling question because the end of colonialism and apartheid did not necessarily translate into major gains for most of society, and women in particular, who, like men, actively participated in, or supported the struggle against colonialism and apartheid. This article, based on the voices of rural and urban women from the former “homeland” of Qwaqwa, South Africa, brings to the fore their experiences, as well as perceptions of both the apartheid and post-apartheid eras. It has established that women were much more oppressed under apartheid than they are today. Thus, while the social status of women has changed for the better, gender discrimination and gender-based violence persist, reinforcing the motion that even in post-apartheid South Africa women have no voice. The extent to which social security grants are entrenching the culture of dependency and entitlement as claimed by our interviewees, calls for further academic scrutiny, and so does the perceived increase in the trafficking of women and children in post-apartheid South Africa.


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