Nolichwa is King?s Tenth, The Times of Swaziland


Date: January 1, 1970
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A short profile of the King of Swaziland?s 10th wife, who is an 18-year-old school girl. A side-bar article at the bottom of the main story looks at the young girl?s passion for Swazi culture.
A short profile of the King of Swaziland?s 10th wife, who is an 18-year-old school girl. A side-bar article at the bottom of the main story looks at the young girl?s passion for Swazi culture.

Key Learning areas:
This article provides learning tips on sources, gender and culture in the news, missing angles and packaging.

Trainer’s notes

Gender, culture and patriarchy

The link between the two is culture is more than just ideas, practices and expressions such as the arts: it dictates who in society has access to and control over resources and political power. Tradition, culture and religion provide a set of social rules, which are used to ensure than men and women conform to their prescribed gender roles and do not challenge the male-dominated order.

Although culture is often seen as set in stone, it is flexible, and while culture and tradition provide continuity with the past, they also change and adapt to meet and reflect changing social conditions. Culture is, or should be dynamic.

The media regards the areas of culture and tradition as untouchable. Media practitioners also are often unaware of how their own cultural backgrounds and beliefs influence their understanding of issues around custom and tradition.

Women are depicted as victims of culture, or the perpetrators and preservers of cultural practices which inflict harm on other women. Women are seldom asked in the media to give their experiences of culture and are treated as passive objects, rather than as active participants, or as change agents, in the cultural life of their societies.

Pointer: This story is an example of unequal power relations between men. The father is dominated by the King and Swazi culture, and is powerless to decide his daughter’s future.

Sources

We do not hear Nolichwa’s voice nor her mother’s voice in the story. Teachers and her friends are not quoted directly, but in reported speech lumping their voices as one – eg ‘teachers have described her…’ or ‘Nolichwa’s close friends at school said…’

The father is viewed by the media as the rightful authority to speak on the cultural issue of his daughter becoming the king’s new wife. But he has nothing to say other than that he and his family were not informed that Nolichwa had been chosen as a wife for the King. He is described as being ‘shocked’, ‘bewildered’, and is portrayed as a man who has no power to do anything.

Missing angle

The story is a good example of the media’s belief that culture and tradition are untouchable subjects and should not be criticised. No attempt is made by the journalist to question how the young girl was taken from her family, even though the father expresses a concern at what has happened.

The gender and human rights perspective are missing. The article illustrates how the social rules of the Swazi culture and tradition ensure that Nolichwa and her father both conform to their gender roles as prescribed by Swazi culture. Neither can challenge the male-dominated order headed by the King. The gender power relations between Nolichwa, her father and a man in a position of power are not explored, nor questioned in the article.

In Swaziland, where women are considered minors under the law, the story should have questioned whether the parents’ and young girl’s rights had been violated. Her right to education has ended; and her right to choose whom and when to marry also has been taken away by the cultural tradition.

The human rights perspective to this story could have been obtained through the voice of civil society, gender and feminists activists groups, other fathers and mothers willing to comment on how they would feel if their daughters were taken away, religious leaders, etc.

Training exercises

Exercise one: Discuss gender and culture, and how the media covers culture and tradition.

  1. Define culture and patriarchy.
     

  2. How are culture and patriarchy linked?
     

Exercise two: Read the case study and discuss the following:
  1. Who speaks in this story?
     

  2. Who does not speak?
     

  3. Why do you think the father, and not the mother, speaks in this story?
     

  4. How is the father portrayed in the story?
     

  5. How is the mother portrayed?
     

  6. How is Nolichwa depicted?
     

  7. How could this story be written as a gender-aware article? List the angle and information needed to change the story from gender blind to gender aware.

 

 


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3 thoughts on “Nolichwa is King?s Tenth, The Times of Swaziland”

nyameko says:

she is very young for king ,the king taking chances using his power.

Mxolisi Mbhamali says:

Were Ethiopians which means Black smith. Our Kings are above de Law in Heaven or on earth, we cyaan say to our King is doing wrong in taking Nolichwa to be Kings wife, tsine eMaswati in dis days we have no wife no children, no Homes. Cous our woman have right but to man a slave of love. Siyatikhohliswa ngalalungelo, satingan maybe she’s going to bore our next coming King.

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