Imbusa, a rite of passage for marriage among the Bemba people of Zambia, is one of the most salient and resilient rituals that shapes and informs the private and public life. It is one of the most formidable cultural forces that defines behaviors and determines everyday relations between women and men at home, church, and work. Postcolonial Imbusa: Bemba Women’s Agency, and Indigenous Cultural Systems by Mutale Mulenga Kaunda offers a glimpse into the lived imbusa and how the teaching proposes women’s agency and subjectivity. Mulenga Kaunda argues that the salience and resilience of imbusa, despite the contact with various cultures and religions, makes it a critical feminist decolonial resource for constructing life-giving postcolonial womanism. Through combined interviews and philosophical analysis, this book discovers how the knowledge of imbusa was produced and how such knowledge constitutes postcolonial and decolonial nego-feminism.
Mutale Mulenga Kaunda is postdoctoral research fellow at the Desmond Tutu Center in Religion and Social Justice at the University of Western Cape.
Introduction: An African Feminist Postcolonial Appraisal of Bemba Women’s Marital Agency in Imbusa
Chapter One: Coloniality of Imbusa
Chapter Two: Locating Bemba Women on The Copperbelt Province
Chapter Three: Precolonial Indigenous Imbusa Teachings
Chapter Four: Post colonizing Imbusa: Reclaiming and Reconstituting Bemba Women’s Agency
Chapter Five: Bemba Women and Imbusa in Corporate or Public Spheres
Chapter Six: Bemba Women Imbusa and Marriage
Conclusion: Bemba Women’s Agency Between Tradition and Modernity
About the Author
This important and much-needed book underscores the way in which the imbusa curriculum among the Bemba was core in preparing women for their roles in marriage. Kaunda recognizes the importance of the curriculum and notes its shortcomings in modern society. Using a post-colonial reading, Kaunda meticulously analyzes the imbusa Curriculum and with thoughtful insights, sheds light on how society moves away from reinforcing submission and unequal power dynamics within a marriage, emphasizing on partnership in marriage. This does not take away the marriage preparation of both bride and groom separately as the separate teaching maintains a female space of solidarity. Thus decolonizing the imbusa curriculum is about reclaiming indigenous African voices and knowledge.
How do we decolonize and rewrite narratives of dominance and hope in the Pan African indigenous space of women and girls? Mutale Kaunda helps us answer this question with this timely book about the marriage life of Bemba women in Zambia. She adeptly invites us into the world of Bemba women and its relevance to their present public life while also showing how this specific narrative has import for all of us. She skillfully draws on indigenous cultural theories and recent theoretical methods to decolonize imbusa, to help us understand, critique, and appreciate pre-colonial practices that can be re-informed to help each of us honor and lift the dignity and divinity of women in our own contexts. This is an important and timely work I commend for all.
This book offers brilliant insight and evidences the importance of diverse and decolonial perspectives in research. Situating imbusa as living curriculum and presenting rich evidence of the potential for addressing unjust gender inequity through women’s agency, Matula Kaunda shares a beautifully written study that is both political and pedagogical. Cultural traditions are too often understood through a colonial research lens and Kaunda brings a much needed complex feminist and decolonial analysis to the subject in a way that is unwaveringly empowering women while also being deeply critical and thoughtful to share the ways imbusa could be a living curriculum rich with dialogue and activism.
Postcolonial Imbusa: Bemba Women’s Agency and Indigenous Cultural Systems is a profound and courageous work which ruminates and equally deconstructs the imbusa process experienced by Zambian women. This book provides a clear and insightful analysis of imbusa, creating a framework for solid and serious reflection of its past, present and future.