Academic journal article Global Media Journal

My Spirit Is Not Banned: A Rhetorical Analysis of the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL)

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

My Spirit Is Not Banned: A Rhetorical Analysis of the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL)

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper is a rhetorical criticism of a speech given by Lindiwe Mabuza, an African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) activist, during the period when South Africa was transitioning to a triacameral parliament to include black South Africans. The (ANCWL) helped to shift South Africa to more progressive and less sexist policies regarding women. There has been extensive research on the transition of South Africa from apartheid to full democracy as well as the immense difficulty the country currently faces because of such a radical transition, but very little research addresses the most violent period leading up to the governmental transition, specifically looking at the role South African women generally, and the ANCWL specifically played in the anti-apartheid movement. This paper works as an invitation for further research on the rhetoric of the ANCWL and the importance of women's contribution to the anti-apartheid movement.

Keywords: African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL), rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, Lindiwe Mabuza, women, patriarchy, apartheid, South Africa.

Introduction

Revolutionary struggles and mass sociopolitical movements have a history of lumping women's issues into the category of the whole and discarding them as insignificant and trivial. The fight for equality has always been within the context of male-dominated struggles, which have helped to impede the development of a feminist consciousness. If women continue to work within the realms of patriarchy then their issues will continue to be forgotten, ignored and trivialized. In order to break through these barriers, women must create an individual identity, as well as use rhetoric that takes their cause outside of patriarchal terms.

An example of this-though not the only one-can be seen in South Africa, a country that was created with some of the most devastating segregationist policies but has now implemented legislation to protect women and has made being a "non-sexist" country part of its mission. Patriarchy and sexism are still alive and well in South Africa, just as they are in almost every other country around the world, but the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) has helped to shift South Africa to more progressive and less sexist policies regarding women. There has been extensive research on the transition of South Africa from apartheid to full democracy (Alexander, 2003; Kotze, 1994; Weisse & Anthonissen, 2004) as well as the immense difficulty the country currently faces because of such a radical and dramatic transition (Hart, 2003; Nowak and Ricci, 2005; Singh, 2008; Wilson, 2001), but very little research addresses the most violent period leading up to the governmental transition, specifically looking at the role the ANCWL played in the anti-apartheid movement. The ANCWL was particularly powerful in their ability to mobilize and bring attention to their causes (Waylen, 2007). The success of their mobilization techniques was inherent to their rhetoric, which helped to both cultivate an identity that divided the struggles of black South African women from the larger anti-apartheid movement and also empowered them by reconstituting their agency through a reliance on their historical successes. The rhetoric of the ANCWL merits attention both for its ability to create an individual voice for women and to create rhetoric that diverged from its oppressors. The deficit in research is unfortunate but not detrimental to this paper; however, this paper will only analyze one speech in order to work as a platform for further study of this area. This paper looks specifically at a speech given by Lindiwe Mabuza, an ANCWL activist, in 1983 when the government was making a transition to a triacameral parliament to include black South Africans. This paper works as an invitation for further research on the rhetoric of the ANCWL and the importance of their contribution to the anti-apartheid movement. …

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