A makoti in a Patriarchal Society: Culture, Christianity and Constitution in Collision?

  • Kelebogile Thomas Resane University of the Free State
Keywords: Makoti, Culture, Christianity, Constitution, Women, Men


The purpose of this article is to examine and analyse the African concept of makoti (daughter-in-law), her duties and expectations from the cultural dictates.  Makoti is evaluated from cultural, religious, and constitutional perspectives, with emphasis from the biblical texts. No specific African or tribal culture will be followed, but the general treatment of and from makoti is a focus. The highlights of the argument revolve around cultural oppression, religious (Christian) compromise, and constitutional protection. Cultural dictates oppress the makoti so severely that she is made to feel in competition with her mother-in-law. The Christian teaching extends the oppression by promoting patriarchal headship, under which a makoti must submit. On the other hand, the South African Constitution, through its human rights sections regarding women and children, protects a makoti as human being. This is also done through marital prescriptions for a woman’s freedom of choice to keep her surname after marriage. After the definitions of concepts, the reasons behind the sought-after additions of younger bo-makoti into the patriarchal cartel is explored. The three areas where a married woman exerts her rights (culture, Christian faith, and the constitution) are in collision regarding women’s dignity. The power of cultural demands, elevation of man’s headship in the Christian faith, and the dictates of South African Constitution are contradictory and collusive, leaving a makoti in a limbo, limping between opinions, not knowing who to be subject to. The conclusion is that to be a makoti in a patriarchal society where culture, Christianity and the constitution are viewed as comrades in arms protecting a makoti is a pipedream – a concept that is oxymoronic and far-fetched.


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Author Biography

Kelebogile Thomas Resane, University of the Free State
Teaching & Learning ManagerFaculty of TheologyDepartment of Systematic TheologyUniversity of the Free State