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Exposition of Culture and the Space of Women: An African View for Policy Consideration



This conceptual article, framed around Marxism, highlighted the fact that, overtime, African women have persistently questioned the ways in which understandings of culture have both valued and devalued them. Relying on the experience of women in some randomly selected African countries – South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana, this research shows clearly that the space of women as members of the household and at a macro level is shaped by an existing culture to which they must confine their lives. Also, culture, as shown in this research, is deeply contextualised and highly contested. As such, their transformability, through questioning, is fundamental to policy formulation and implementation. Keywords: culture; women; African experience; policy; Marxism
Gender & Behaviour 2015, 13(2), 6694-6703
Copyright © 2015 Ife Centre for Psychological Studies/Services, Ile-Ife, Nigeria ISSN: 1596-9231
Exposition of Culture and the Space of Women: An African View for Policy
Collins O. Potokri
University of South Africa (UNISA)
College of Education
Department of Educational Leadership and Management
Email: OR
This conceptual article, framed around Marxism, highlighted the fact that, over
time, African women have persistently questioned the ways in which
understandings of culture have both valued and devalued them. Relying on the
experience of women in some randomly selected African countries South Africa,
Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana, this research shows clearly that the space of women
as members of the household and at a macro level is shaped by an existing culture
to which they must confine their lives. Also, culture, as shown in this research, is
deeply contextualised and highly contested. As such, their transformability, through
questioning, is fundamental to policy formulation and implementation.
Keywords: culture; women; African experience; policy; Marxism
This article sets the tone for a deeper
understanding of culture and its
implications on women. In other words, I
examine the experiences of women in some
randomly selected African countries
South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana
focusing on the practice of bride price.
The writings of Baker (1988) and Jackson
(2003) substantiate the random choice with
respect to the countries selected for this
research. Baker and Jackson both note
that a researcher can randomly select or
utilise any individual case where each
individual case in the population
theoretically has an equal chance of been
selected for the sample. Furthermore, I
chose bride price as a symbol that
epitomises a powerful cultural practice in
which women’s experiences of bride price
do not necessarily resonate with its avowed
purpose. In focussing on bride price I
draw a distinction between the rhetoric of
culture and the experiences of women with
respect to culture. In this research the
terms bride price and lobola are
interchangeably used. Both terms refer to
the same concept. Scholars from Southern
Africa prefer the use of lobola while
scholars from West Africa prefer bride
Bride price and culture
Ratele (2007, p. 65) argues that “culture is
a non-generic, changeable and permanently
incomplete system of lessons and acts we
get to learn over time and use to navigate
our worlds”. The concept culture is not
limited to a specific field of study; it extends
to sociology, philosophy, management and
education, among others. Schein (1985, p.
9) conceptualise culture as “a set of basic
assumptions shared solutions to
universal problems of external adaptation
(how to survive) and internal integration
(how to stay together) which have evolved
over time and are handed down from one
generation to another”. The definition by
Schein and Ratele (2007) will form the basis
of discussion in this research as the core
meaning of culture. In many studies, for
example Wilson-Tagoe (2003) and Badoe
(2005) African women have highlighted the
fact that culture plays a dominant role in
their lives and thus shapes their lives.
Importantly, women express much concern
about culture with regard to marriage
(Reddy, 2011). Many young women
understand “marriage as an
unquestionable expectation that is
embedded in culture and tradition” (Reddy,
2011, p. 39). For this reason, large cohort
of women often discuss and analyse culture
from a marriage entry point of view, in
Gender & Behaviour, 13(2), 2015
particular the practice of bride price.
“Lobola”, referring to ‘bride price’, is an
enduring custom that offers insight into
past and present gender and power
relations (Shope, 2006, p.65). Mandela
(1991) conceptualise bride price as
lobola in European love, where the bride
is converted into a sort of feudal slave
purchased from her father by the
husband's family.
As a means of understanding the impact
and influence of culture on women with
respect to bride price, I examine recent
studies of Jude Clark, Janet Hinson Shope,
Lydia Magwaza and Konjit Kifetew, among
others. Clark (2006) explores how the
concept culture is mobilised to produce
and represent women in relation to different
temporalities (then and now) within the
national project, and the particular
constructions of transition that emerge in
and through such processes. Clark (2006)
and Shope (2006) argue that culture, as a
conceptual and practical phenomenon, has
conflicting meanings for women.
In Clark’s (2006) study, that sought
perceptions on culture from both urban and
rural women in KwaZulu-Natal, South
Africa’’, she explores that contradictions
displayed in women’s views are to be
expected, since culture is a changing site
of contestation that is open to multiple
interpretations (ibid, 11). Clark’s study
reveals that most women are aware of the
restrictions placed upon them by culture.
Despite this, they uphold culture as a given
past that shapes their identities. One of the
respondents in Clark’s study noted that the
dominant understanding and categorisation
of culture as specific acts, events and
objects, conceals its role as a system of
meaning one that simultaneously
produces and regulates what women do
and how they understand themselves.
These specific acts and objects are
important, but are only part of the many
ways in which they (women) draw on
cultural resources to understand and
perform what it means to be a woman (ibid,
9). The narratives of participants indicate
that in the lives of women, culture gains
specific meaning when considered at
different times (then and now), given the
apartheid and post-apartheid era in South
Africa. According to Clark (2006), when we
consider the combined excerpts of
narratives by women from rural and urban
contexts, we see how they raise certain
ambivalences in articulating the link
between the notion of time and the
construction of identity.
Shope’s (2006) study “Lobola is here to
stay: rural black women and the
contradictory meanings of ‘lobola’ in post-
apartheid South Africa focuses on the
contradictory meanings of lobola bride
price and the internal power struggles
that emerge over its interpretation and
practice. In her studies she interviewed six
hundred black women in rural and urban
communities in South Africa to draw
findings and conclusions. Her findings
reveal an increasing commodification of
lobola”, which has a tremendous influence
on its meaning and process. She argues
that in South Africa’s rural communities,
black women seek to maintain the
relational facets of the tradition, but object
to the ways some men appropriate the
custom to maximise their own interests.
Shope (2006) discusses contradictory
meanings of lobola, noting that the
practice has invited numerous doubts, with
some dubbing it as a practice that is
discriminatory towards women. In her
study, she argues that in the past, lobola
forged a relational bond among families,
and as the older women in the research site
recall, it celebrated the addition of the
woman into the husband’s family. The
study depicts that women value ‘lobola’; it
is a symbol of respect for them. Some of the
participants argued that lobola acts as a
woman’s charter of liberty, upholding the
worthiness of women. Through the
negotiation of lobola, families are brought
together and united; thus the transfer of
lobola creates a web of affiliations (Ansell,
Women in Nigeria, Ghana and South
Africa cling to lobola/ bride price for the
respect and dignity it confers, and for the
relational interdependence it cultivates
among families (see Shope, 2006; Salm &
Falola, 2002). Their defence of the practice
draws on the same logic invoked in the
support of human rights as entrenched in
the constitutions of their respective
Potokri, C. O.: Exposition of Culture and the Space of Women
countries, that is, to uphold one’s dignity as
a right (Shope, 2006). In short, “while
women simultaneously reaffirm the
relational value of culture and its practices,
their potential to be full participants in
post-apartheid and post-colonial African
societies rests on their ability to redefine
tradition in ways that expand women’s
opportunities and reflect their interest”
(ibid, 71). One major exposition of the views
of women concerning lobola/bride price
as reported by Shope, Salm and Falola is its
centrality to marriage. It is indeed, in many
African societies, the entrance point for
men and women into marriage.
In an attempt to summarise the work of
Shope (2006), Magwaza (2006) argues that
the acclaimed value of bride price is
viewed differently by men and women
while men employ it to enforce their power,
women appreciate its role in bringing
families together, as well as its contribution
as a base for appropriate gender relations.
Referring to and relying on Lydia
Mugambe’s (2006) study, Rethinking
culture in the face of HIV/AIDS, a similar
but different study in East Africa, Magwaza
(2006) reveals that lobola is a traditional
cultural practice that contributes
significantly to placing women in vulnerable
positions exposing them to all forms of
risk, including diseases. She asserts that
lobola permits polygamy in all East
African cultures, that is, it allows a man to
have more than one wife or partner,
provided the man pays the bride price to
the parents or elders of the woman’s family.
As reported (Mugambe, 2006), the women
participants usually fear the threat of being
returned to their parents’ homes and the
bride price being returned. According to
the writings of Reddy (2011), they (women
participants) remain in the marriage and
become vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
Speaking on this situation, Hey (2003, p.
326) uses the metaphor of leaving home:
the outsiders within the new family risk
revealing a self that is thought stupid in the
host culture and pretentious in your original
culture”. In effect, this perception paralyses
women into remaining within the confines
of the family into which they have married.
In Ethiopia, Kifetew (2006) writes about
and describes women’s downgraded status,
particularly within the domestic sphere. In
her view, the role of culture in downplaying
women as objects, being good for only
reproductive purposes, is worrisome.
Hartsock (1981) considers the role of
reproduction and suggests that the concept
of production is insufficient as a
description of a woman’s role as mother,
domestic worker and wage earner (see
Harding, 2004). Thus, for Hartsock,
women’s experiences in childbirth and
childrearing contribute to a distinctly
female way of experiencing culture and the
world at large. On this note, I suggest that
culture in this regard be questioned.
Questioning culture is a means of allowing
women’s voices to be heard and a path that
leads to women locating themselves in any
societal or environmental site.
The rhetoric of culture and the experience of
My purpose in distinguishing between the
rhetoric of culture and the experience of
culture is a means toward adopting a
questioning rather than an
accepting/acquiescent approach to culture.
Put simply, my assertion is that women’s
experience of culture and its practices often
does not resonate with the articulation of
the value of such practices. While agencies
of power, for example, chiefs, elders and
governments, may argue that cultural
practices are good for the community,
women’s experience of such practices is not
necessarily so. However, as I seek a deeper
understanding of the rhetoric of culture
and the experience of culture, I
acknowledge the multiplicity of realities and
experience(s) as underpinned by the
standpoints of various theorists (Harding,
2004; Arnot, 2006; Hartsock, 1981).
Culture affects women differently at
different points in their lives. For instance,
the cultural expectations and
responsibilities of women change if they are
married, single mothers, aged or divorced.
This suggests that African women re-
imagine themselves as members of
different groups, in several places, and being
citizens of the world, all at the same time”
(Ratele, 2007, p. 66). Krijay Govender’s
(2001) work, Subverting identity after 1994:
the South African Indian woman as
Gender & Behaviour, 13(2), 2015
playwright”, illuminates culture as
portraying the identity of people. In her
work, she argues that South African
Indians’ constructed notions of identity are
located in history and place. This indicates
that the identities of people change on
account of their history and place of
habitation. With respect to Indian South
African women, their culture, as well as
their identities, is constantly shifting
according to the political, social and
economic environment (ibid, 34). This
arguably applies to women across the
world, given, the global migration patterns
and the increasing numbers of women who
head different homes. In the words of
Govender, “the so-called Indian South
African woman’s identity has experienced
shifts in both the apartheid and post-
apartheid eras” (ibid, 34).
In West African countries (e.g. Nigeria
and Ghana) where the military ruled from
the 1980s to the late 1990s, the culture
and identities of both men and women
shifted between the pre-colonial period, the
military regime, and the infant democracy
era in the 2000s. During these periods,
women who used to be housewives could no
longer stay at home to perform domestic
work, but looked for work or engaged in
petty trade following the austerity measures
brought about as a result of harsh
economic policies favoured by military
rulers (see Ezeilo, 1999; 2000). These
circumstances, together with other aspects
of lifestyle adjustment, such as friendly co-
existence among women and men of all
ethnicities and tribe, suggest that culture is
learnt, and is fluid. To this end, it can be
said that the success or failure of an
individual or institution depends, to a
reasonable extent, on the acceptance of the
notion of a changing culture.
The writing of Mabokela (2004), and the
narratives of participant(s) in her research,
highlight the use of culture by societies as a
political tool. A “society’s cultural symbols,
performance traditions and expressive art
can be used as tools through which
subjugated groups exert political agency,
especially when other forms of activism and
movement participation are blocked
(Kuumba, 2006). These expressions of
cultural politics, according to Alvarez,
Dagnino and Escobar (1998), can be
defined as the process enacted when sets of
social actors, shaped by and embodying
different cultural meanings and practices,
come into conflict with each other. Women’s
lifestyles and achievements in Africa have
been characterised and influenced by
evolution in terms of changes from the pre-
colonial, colonial, military and democracy
periods in different countries. To be able to
evaluate or assess the rhetoric of culture
and cultural experiences of women, it is
ideal that we question culture. According
to Ratele (2007), cultivating a questioning
attitude to culture is an estimable goal of
critical inquiry and practice. Questioning
culture is also needed when subverting the
closed discourse about culture that rules
the worlds of women and men and is
thought to be a critical gender issue. While
I understand that questioning culture will
prompt a better understanding of its impact
on men and women, Bodoe’s (2005) and
(2012) work in Gambaga, Ghana, indicates
that women who question culture and seek
freedom for themselves are sometimes
viewed as witches. Similarly, in South
Africa, Shope (2006) notes that when
women challenge patriarchal definitions of
tradition and introduce gender equity, they
are accused of ruining culture. This
suggests that many African cultures
consider it culturally improper for women
to question culture.
Through culture questioning, African
women are able to understand themselves,
and thereafter are able to re-define and re-
construct themselves beyond the clutches
of state-invoked culture as more than just
women (Wilson-Tagoe, 2003; Acker &
Webber 2006).
Questioning African culture, for
example, “lobola is tantamount to African
resistance. This suggests that African
culture defines Africa as a continent. The
detailed analysis of this resistance spells
out the difference between “national
culture” and “African culture”. Franz Fanon
an important founder of the growing body
of theory on African resistance and a
Westernised West Indian and French
citizen, who worked as a psychiatrist for the
French army in Algeria argues for
"national cultures" rather than "African
Potokri, C. O.: Exposition of Culture and the Space of Women
cultures". This imperative according to
Tomaselli (1987) emerged from the nation-
building attempts which underpinned the
continent's independence movements of the
1960s. Different yet similar, Dr Kwame
Nkrumah, first prime minister and
president of Ghana (1957 1966),
advocated for African culture
Africanisation when he said that the
independence of Ghana is meaningless
unless when linked up with the total
liberation of the entire African continent on
6 March 1957. For him, it was not about
national culture that is, culture within the
borders of Ghana but beyond and across
Africa as a continent African culture.
Fanon (1965) argues that culture takes
concrete shape around the struggle of the
people, not around signs, poems or folklore.
In his view, culture is not a pre-determined
model offered by the past. It is not a state of
being, but a state of becoming. Fanon
(1965) argues further that black petty
bourgeois politicians often call on the idea
of nationalism and culture to disguise
their own opportunistic political agenda.
Therefore, culture as a discursive romantic
mobilising agent is common to both
nationalist and popular struggles in Africa
(Tomaselli 1987).
The act of questioning culture identifies
the limitations and imperfections of culture
and its influence on people; thus cultures
that fail to acknowledge their own
imperfections and limits are harmful to
their members (Ratele, 2007).
Concomitantly, questioning culture as is
evident in the writings of gender and
feminist scholars, necessitated the need for
shaping and re-shaping their thinking (for
example, Pereira, 2002; Oyewumi, 2002;
Amadiume, 1987; Odejide, 2003; hooks,
2000). This partly explains why radical
feminist writers today consistently affirm
new ways of thinking and speaking, and
pursue what is visionary and
imaginative these new ways of thinking
and speaking challenge gender and feminist
scholars to transcend neo-imperial and
patriarchal boundaries (Lewis, 2005). Such
feminists, according to Lewis (2005),
suggest that “it may be in imaginative
expression that we can find the most
abundant sources to resist the coercive
powers of our present discursive context”
(ibid, 76). It is therefore vital that women
speak for themselves, and question for
Navigating through Marxism
This article is primarily aimed at setting the
tone for a deeper understanding of culture
and its implications on women, therefore,
issues around culture and policy in relation
to the experiences of women in societies is
central and as such must point to the entry
and exit points of the navigating route: my
lens. In the light of this, Marxist standpoint
theory was embraced. In this context,
Marxism offers the classic model of a
standpoint theory, claiming an epistemic
privilege over fundamental questions of
economics, sociology and history on behalf
of the standpoint of the proletariat (Marx,
1964; Lukács, 1971).
Integrated in this theory is the
articulation of the experiences of people,
particularly women, as Sarah Harding, a
Marxist standpoint theorist, noted. Using
the Marxist theory is an attempt to gain
meaningful insights to this research
phenomenon, especially in the light of
policy consideration that foreground rich
and far over-reaching discussions and
conclusions that would add to the
knowledge of readers and intellectuals
generally. This theory, according to the
popular quote of Karl Marx on change,
understanding, and world (1818 1883), is
aimed at not just understanding the world,
but at changing it. This for me aligns with
the act of culture questioning by women
herein reviewed literature. Noting that
Marxist theory is strongly influenced by a
materialist approach which is drawn from
various sources hence applicable to all
fields of study, saves me the fears or
worries of not applying it correctly.
In this article, rather than dealing with
the many branching paths of Marxist
scholarship and polemic as Noble (2001)
advises, I concentrate on the political
philosophy cum history and cultural
domains (elements of the Marxist
standpoint theory). Both domains help to
discern what is distinctive about the
realities (ontology) and knowledge
(epistemology) of the Marxist theory and
Gender & Behaviour, 13(2), 2015
how it represents the views of different
people either as individuals or as a group.
Marx believes that the history of society like
culture could best be understood as a
dialectical process, but a material dialectic
not the opposition and negation of
abstract principle (Noble, 2001). Dialectical
materialism consists of the confrontation of
conflicting class interests (ibid). In this
dialectic of class against class, and the
negation of their negation, is the emergence
of a new social order (Noble, 2001) which
includes capitalism.
In his work titled, Culture in connection:
re-contextualizing ideational processes in the
analysis of policy development, Padamsee
(2009) reveals that we cannot understand
policy formulation without its cultural
determinants. This according to Padamsee
is new scholarship that has laid a solid
foundation for approaching culture, ideas
and discourses as constitutive elements of
policy development and process. In
Padamsee’s work, the four points of
connection that help to re-position these
processes within the larger endeavour of
understanding policy formation are as
follows: (a) interaction between ideational
and other causal dynamics, (b) the
interdependence of these processes and its
implications for notions of causality in
policy analysis, (c) the ways
contemporaneous meanings are connected
with one another, which reflects the
multiplicity of cultures, ideas, and
discourses, and (d) the connections
between these meanings and discourses
across time, which are critical to instances
of significant policy change.
The points above, when combined is
more observable and evident in a political
economy of knowledge not refrained from
questioning, but where human rights are
cherished (see for example, Desai, 2013;
Rivera, 2010; Cowen & Smith, 2009; Marx,
1857). The lesson learnt here does not only
underscore the empirical and theoretical
scholarship that typifies these connections,
but simply highlights the relationship
between culture and policy and by
extension, pointing to proposed policy
As a means of consolidating the writings
and views of the writers mentioned above, I
note in alignment with the view of Ratele
(2005) that we need to constantly
distinguish a positive cultural feeling from
an exclusionary us only tendency. Hence,
the questioning of culture will always be an
attempt to show that the cultural world is
made up of many stories in which gendered
power figures feature prominently alongside
state, economic, ethnical and racial forces
(Ratele, 2007; Harding, 2004; 1993). The
work of Lewis (2005), among other African
scholars, indicates that questioning and
analysing culture unveil “the complexities
introduced into our cultural
understandings of our identities by history,
ethnicity and social stratifications…” (ibid,
143). Understanding these complexities is
essential for a just policy consideration by
all who are assigned the responsibility of
formulating and implementing policies in
all spheres of life.
Accordingly, such an approach shows
that society does not begin and end with
one’s own culture, however hegemonic, and
that any single individual’s consciousness
is only one minor part of culture. This
suggests that the problem is one of
transcending the binary: inviolable
“culture”, on the one hand, and pure
instrumentality, on the other hand (Loots,
2001). In her work, “Re-situating culture in
the body politic, LLiane Loots argues that
culture is a political issue that both
challenges and defines nationhood,
belonging, subjectivity and democracy (ibid,
12). She underlines that “culture being a
political issue warrants binary”. For her, it
is time to put the tired binary to sleep! In
line with the understanding, “lobola”, a
pure instrument, is the Marxist insight
that culture, while pervasive, is not
homogeneous with rifts within, yet
correspond broadly to divisions within
society especially class divisions. Against
this background, culture should indeed be
questioned particularly by those who
experience the rifts given Marxist
standpoint theorists’ exposition which
supports the understanding of human
experience particularly from personal
narratives. Harding in her famous writing,
Potokri, C. O.: Exposition of Culture and the Space of Women
The feminist standpoint theory reader:
intellectual and political controversies,
emphasises that standpoint is an attempt
to construct knowledge from the
perspective of women’s lives. This according
to Collins (1986) is based on the concept of
women as being more able to bring
objectivity to research as a result of their
societal roles, described as the outsider
within. With this ideology, the chances of
culture been questioned from outside in an
arbitrary and idealist manner is minimised.
The ability and desire to question
expressed views, including those of one’s
avowed culture, is one of the greatest gifts a
culture and society can nourish in its
members (Ratele, 2007); likewise in its
policy consideration. And, in a world that
demands of us to love our culture, to teach
a child to approach what they get from the
world with a questioning attitude, sets that
child up for an open, interested and
productive life (ibid, 75). Furthermore, it
relaxes restrictions around culture, and
establishes conditions to allow it to flourish
and perhaps promote objectively existing
social and class positions other than
dominant ones. Questioning culture as the
experiences of women in the reviewed
literature depicts, is aimed at
understanding and providing answers to
relational cultural practices such as
lobola that informs their fears or
reservations. Their questioning
comportment, overtly attempts to identify
detailed imaginative and rethinking need
for knowledge (Loots, 2001). Foucault
documented how knowledge of issues
concerning a large spectrum of livelihoods
in the 18th and 19th centuries became the
basis of new practices on which institutions
and societies were built. These institutional
practices and cultures, which shaped
perceptions, categories, values and
behaviour (Wright, 1998), are nest in
structural individualism (Noble, 2001).
In an attempt to shed light on structural
individualism and traditional societies,
Weber (1949) argued that ideas and values
are crucial in shaping human actions and
can therefore bring about self-reflective
change. Adam Smith believes that people
are primarily driven by private, human
considerations: hunger, thirst, the passion
which unites the two sexes, the love of
pleasure and the dread of pain (Smith,
1759). These pleasures and pains,
according to Noble (2001), include the
pleasure of being thought well of, or
deserving to be thought well of, by our
fellow men and women and the same or
earning embarrassment, which usually
invokes or provokes the questioning of
existing norms and practices, simply
culture, be they cultural, social, economic
or politically inclined.
Substantially, the experience of these
women (in reviewed literature), which
necessitated their questioning attitude, tilts
towards understanding neutrality and
equality barriers of both sexes, as Marxist
standpoint theorists advanced. Meredith
Tax, a Marxist literary critic, asks that if
culture is not neutral, whom does it serve?
(Tax, 1973, p. 45). Basically, as Tax
responded, it is to promote and attract
political benefits to patriarchy and
capitalism (see Loots, 2001). This is an
explanation for describing culture as
“coercive power” which industrialists,
capitalists and politicians who are usually
men hold on to for directing, if not
manipulating the lives of women. Further to
this, Gramsci links the “coercive power” of
capitalists and owners of resources to
hegemony and class division, a dominant
feature of culture as (Wright, 1998; Desai,
2013; Cowen & Smith, 2009) identified. Of
course, hegemony is how the ruling class
persuades the masses to consent to be
ruled in a certain way (Gramsci, 1976;
Desai, 2013).
The term culture is used in many contexts
to mean different things as illustrated in
the definitions of different scholars.
Nevertheless, this article reveals that where
people are involved, especially as it
concerns communities, societies and
nations, culture is present. From pre-
colonial to post-colonial, military and
democracy eras in African societies,
different policies have been formulated by
different governments, yet culture a major
determinant and reflection of the way of
people’s life appears not to have
meaningfully changed. As shown in this
Gender & Behaviour, 13(2), 2015
article, culture explains things such as
bride price (lobola) and dowry; but ideas,
beliefs and thoughts around things like
lobola and dowry for example, are held
onto to explain culture itself.
This article illuminates the fact that,
over time, African women have persistently
questioned the ways in which
understandings of culture have both valued
and devalued them. It is equally clear that
the major implication of culture (lobola) on
women and their space in all spheres of life
is centered on their external adaptation i.e.
how to survive and internal integration,
that is, how to stay together with their
husbands and families. Lobola or bride
price as a form of culture is not in any way
different in selected countries given the
experiences of women. In fact, lobola is a
significant cultural element that African
women cling to because of the respect and
dignity it confers on them. However, it
hinders women questioning approach to
culture meaningless, that is, renders their
voices insignificant given the fact that men
cling to it because it gives them the power
to silent the questioning approach of
women to culture. In addition, this article
shows clearly that the space of women as
members of the household and at macro
level is shaped by existing culture which
they must confine their lives. Lobola as a
form of culture illuminates codification of
women’s experience in their everyday life; of
which it’s questioning replaces
consciousness that equally conforms to
their experience.
While questioning the culture of lobola
may have mentally change the ideologies of
women, it has not change their world as
Marxist theorists agitate, but certainly
leads to critique the illusion of homogenous
practices and uniform thinking among
Africa women. I opine that, culture is both
a state of being and a state of becoming;
an opinion that contrast Fanon’s view. This
implies that it determine women’s lives as
well as that of men in present times and the
future to come. If culture is applicable to
the present only that is, state of being; then
women or the dominant or exploited class
would worry less hence there might be no
need to question culture. More so,
questioning culture is not just being
inquisitive or rebellious: it is a kind of
critical awareness about our beliefs, ideas
and thoughts’ limitations in the realm of
globalised and democratic societies that
translate into pursuit of human rights and
gender equality amongst others.
In sum, culture, as shown in this
research, are deeply contextualised and
highly contested. As such, their
transformability, through questioning, is
fundamental to policy formulation and
implementation if a better life for women,
and indeed, for men is what African
societies seek.
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... Diko argues further that this tenacity of women's negative stereotyping is partly due to most men and women's roles in society. For example, women are still regarded as homemakers, whereas most males are employed outside the home (Posel & Bruce-Brand, 2020;Potokri, 2015). Such stereotyping is confirmed by the lack of women in top management positions in the South African education system. ...
... Because of this, I am been undermined as a principal, and because of this, the relationship is not that good". (SCH 7/P7) It clearly shows the role of patriarchy in making women less acceptable as leaders in society and makes it difficult for them to question certain cultures and practices as the work of Potokri (2015), the 'exposition of culture' illuminates. Both men and female teachers in this society come from a culture characterised by male dominance. ...
... Both men and female teachers in this society come from a culture characterised by male dominance. A women's place is considered home, and males are seen as breadwinners (Potokri, 2011(Potokri, , 2015. When women make it into the top positions, they are mostly met with resistance. ...
Gender predisposition towards female leaders within the South African context remains a problem and compelling issue, particularly in rural settings, which are often marginalised and overlooked. Guided by the transformational leadership theory, this article explored the experiences of South African female principals in managing secondary schools in the Vhembe District of Limpopo. A profoundly traditional and patriarchal society characterises this rural setting. Hence, a qualitative research approach and a case study design were used. Ten female principals from ten (10) randomly selected secondary schools in the Vhembe District were purposively selected to serve as participants. Through semi-structured interviews, data were gathered from the sampled participants. Findings from the article reveal that patriarchy still plays a role in disadvantaging women from effectively assuming their duties as leaders. Most of the participants–female principals are subjected to gender bias and thus, unproductive, impact the cooperation from learners, parents, teachers, the community, and the Department of Education officials. Despite unpleasant experiences, female leaders in this article demonstrate selflessness in their daily leadership tasks and routines. Furthermore, they are inspirational and serve as role models to all they had relationships with for the transformation and change they desire in their schools. To the sampled principals, being selfless and inspirational is their leadership strength. One way of the few mentioned becoming a leader one aspires to.
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... Accordingly, the non-questioning of culture by women has serious implications for policy consideration which are further used to shape the lives of people, specifically women. Potokri (2015) argues that illiteracy is one reason why most women in Nigeria are unable or reluctant to question culture and policies that concern them and as members of families and societies. With illiteracy, people cannot explain or understand policy or the changes they intend because they cannot systematically describe it (Burstein, 1991). ...
Insider experiences indicate that the University of Ghana Learning Centres (UGLCs) that were established some 50 years ago in all the 10 regional capitals of Ghana have lately been experiencing setbacks in their management operations. What could be the underlying issues to be addressed? Grounded in Kouzes and Posner’s transformational management model, the purpose of this research was to examine and critique the status quo of the management of the Centres so as to suggest innovative solutions to the challenges at stake. Using a qualitative case study involving face-to-face individual interviews with five of the Centre Coordinators, the research found that Coordinators had laudable visions for their Centres, were innovative and shared responsibilities to encourage staff. However, inadequate financial investment in the management of the centres and inadequate financial support stifled the development agenda of the managers. Recommendations proffered pointed to the need for more financial and logistical supports for the Centres.
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... Mmualefe highlights the African teachings that place importance on women enduring pain, sacrificing themselves for the happiness of others. Potokri (2015) also highlights this tendency to sacrifice oneself and argues that women sustain culture as it helps them form their identity. Both Mmualefe and Potokri view this silence and self-sacrifice as products of social learning that a woman should protect the dignity of her family, her clan and her community. ...
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Ubuntu philosophy promotes communal humanness and shuns individuality. This article debates the conflict that exists between personal and universal rights. These rights are tested in a single case study of a rape survivor who while dealing with violent trauma is pregnant as a consequence thereof. The survivor loses her inalienable rights to be acknowledged and respected by her community as a result of her pregnancy. Even though she respects the personhood of her unborn child she is marginalised from the communal Ubuntu philosophy. The results reveal a dichotomy that the protection of family honour is salient and sacred, but the traumatised victim is regarded as profane. The victim must heal her 'wounds' yet experience humiliation and derogatory name-calling from both family and community members. The work of Leopold Senghor, an African philosopher is used as a lens through which this case is analysed.
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This paper discusses the lineage of British cultural studies in relation to its historical antecedents in Britain and Germany, and with regard to developments in the USA, South America and Africa. Cultural and media studies are contrasted with American administrative research and the 'mass society' thesis. Cultural studies seek emancipation; administrative research contributes to social control. The paper ends with a discussion of African cultural theorists and their application of Marxism in anti-colonial struggles on the continent. Some of the problems evident in such scholars and activists as Cabral, Fanon and Ngugi wa Thiong'o are examined. The paper argues that the history of cultural studies during the 20th Century is a history of the ideological mobilisation of the term 'culture*.
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The decades of independence in Ghana have strengthened the idea of a national Ghanaian culture. The culture and customs of Ghana today are a product of diversity in traditional forms, influenced by a long history of Islamic and European contact. Culture and Customs of Ghana is the first book to concisely provide an up-to-date narrative on the most significant elements of the established cultural life and institutions as well as the most recent changes in the cultural landscape. Written expressly for students and the general reader, it belongs in every library supporting multicultural and African studies curricula. Ghana seeks to cultivate the philosophy of the African personality, to revive, maintain, and promote Ghanaian ways of life and integrate them into political and social institutions. Ghanaians also recognize their relationship to the rest of the world and continue to develop with the forces of globalization. Culture and Customs of Ghana authoritatively discusses the vibrant and adaptable people, from their religions to music and dance. A chronology, glossary, and numerous photos complement the text.