Supra-masculinities and supra-femininities in Solomon Mutsvairo's Chaminuka: prophet of Zimbabwe (1983) and Yvonne Vera's Nehanda (1993)
This essay is a contribution towards gaining conceptual clarity with regard to the task of understanding masculinities and femininities, especially in the Zimbabwean Shona context. Our argument is that masculinities and femininities in Zimbabwean Shona society have what we term in this essay a ‘supra’ dimension that is spiritual, and it is this supra dimension that we submit has not been given attention in critical discourses on masculinities and femininities, especially as exemplified by the concept of hegemonic masculinity. Contrary to the generalised conceptualisation of the human being as the centre of the universe and the source of knowledge, which is implied in most western social and cultural theories, Mutsvairo (1983) and Vera (1993), as this paper sets out to demonstrate, present us with an alternative view of the human being, which is in harmony with the Zimbabwean Shona cosmology. The Shona world view does not perceive the human being as the centre of the universe. The paper, therefore challenges this understanding and submits that spirituality as attested by Mutsvairo and Vera is a very important constituent of masculinities and femininities.