The reconstitution of African women's spiritualities in the context of the Amazwi Abesifazane (Voices of Women) project in KwaZulu-Natal (1998-2005)
This study will investigate and critically evaluate the reconstitution of African women’s spiritualities in the context of the Amazwi Abesifazane project. This project forms part of the endeavours of Create Africa South, a Non Governmental Organisation situated in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, which was initiated by the artist Andries Botha. It encourages women, post trauma, to ‘re-member’ themselves by creating memory cloths of embroidery and appliqué reflecting on their experiences in pre- and post-apartheid South Africa. This interdisciplinary study theorises that it is an archive that speaks about African women resisting destructive forces and reconstituting their spiritualities through the therapeutic effects of creativity. The study will not include research into the many other activities undertaken by Create Africa South. Rupture is implied in the use of the word ‘reconstitution’. Reconstitution encompasses the act of constituting again the character of the body, mind and spirit as regards health, strength and well-being of the women (McIntosh, 1970:261). In this study, spirituality is defined as the way in which the women in the Amazwi Abesifazane project reflect upon and live out their belief in God. The power of storytelling is examined from the perspectives of narratology, narrative therapy, sewing and orality/literary studies as resources for the women’s reclamation of their lives. Defining feminisms in South Africa is problematised by issues of race, class and culture. In a context of poverty, everyday survivalist strategies are the diverse forms of resistance seen in the Amazwi Abesifazane project. The women’s stories, cloths and interviews are triangulated as primary data. They are examples of the rich art of resistance against despair and are located in a paradigm of hope. In conclusion, I strongly call for government support in declaring the project a national archive. The multidimensional mediums of the Amazwi Abesifazane/ UbuMama projects nurture the women’s creativity and revitalise their spiritualities towards personal and national transformation.