The Position of Women in Venda Culture

Importance of Venda Women

Traditionally Venda women did not have the same inferior position held by women in most southern African groups. Within her courtyard, a woman had absolute control, and in the past elderly women played an important role in education, telling their stories around the fire.

©Dr Peter Magubane
Venda women have a higher position in their culture than most other women of Southern African groups.

Women could own property, usually given to them by their fathers, but it could be inherited when there was no male heir. There are cases of women acting as regent for a minor son, and a khosi could also appoint his sister as nduna or mukoma. At least one rulership, at Mianzwi, has been passed down in the female line for generations.

The makhadzi, the older sister of a household head, knew the intimate secrets of the family and had more rights over her brother's children than their mother. Many rituals could not be performed without her, and in the case of kings she played a major role in determining succession.