This descriptive and exploratory paper looks at how the khomba cultural practice that is ostensibly positioned as transitioning the girl child from adolescence to adulthood and is used to ‘construct the female body’. The study focuses on the Shangaan people of the Mahenye community in the south eastern part of Zimbabwe and draws from narratives and experiences of both men and women via semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The paper also contextualises how the practice of khomba culturally creates the ‘female body’ and how it strengthens masculinity behaviours amongst the Shangaan people. The paper describes and analyses khomba as a rite of passage and considers how it defines what a ‘real woman’ is, according to the Shangaan belief system. The researchers noted that the cultural practice of khomba is used as a tool or vehicle to create the ‘female’ or ‘cultural body’ and strengthens masculinity behaviours.


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pp. 81-95
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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