Vendas defend their culture, as Zuma draws heat

2013-12-23 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Don’t play politics with culture.

That was the reaction yesterday from members of the Venda tribe as criticism spread of their custom of women prostrating themselves before men to show respect — praised by President Jacob Zuma last week.

In his speech at Impendle about respect and self-respect, he joked that if he didn’t already have four wives, he’d be tempted to marry a respectful Venda woman.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) yesterday slammed Zuma as a cultural chauvinist with no respect for women.

Tendani Singo, a Venda community worker in Limpopo, said culture should not be politicised.

“It is part of our culture, like the pots and wooden bowls from which we eat, and our songs.

“It is how we show respect. It comes from our forefathers and can’t be changed.”

Actress Florence Masebe, a Venda, told a woman on Twitter who condemned the practice that she should look for other oppressed people to fight for instead of “finding fault where there is none”.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement that Zuma ought to apologise.

“President Zuma has proven that what comes to his mind first when he sees women is marriage.

“How do you explain the reality that out of the so many aspects of the gathering he attended in the Vhembe region, the only aspect that remains in President Zuma’s mind is the possibility of marriage?” asked Ndlozi.

“This notion is entirely problematic, and reinforces many gender stereotypes and gender inequality practices that are ingrained in South African society.”

DA MP Helen Lamoela said every culture must be respected, but should comply with the Constitution.

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