The ‘placenta’ of the nation
Motherhood discourses in Tswana marriage ceremonies
Keywords:motherhood, discourses, marriage ceremonies, Botswana
This paper explores the construction of motherhood in Tswana marriage ceremonies, especially in Patlo or marriage negotiations. The data used comprise a chant known as Rutu (from the repeated use of the lexical item) from a wedding in Kopong in southern Botswana, and interviews of participants in the weddings studied as part of a larger project on marriage discourses (Ellece 2007). The paper uses Critical Discourse Analysis as an overarching framework. At the micro-level, the paper combines content analysis of narratives of motherhood and lexical choices in the ‘Rutu’ chant. It also examines the re-contextualization of the discourses articulated in this ceremony by the interviewees. The main argument of the paper is that, in Botswana, motherhood is constructed as a compulsory and indispensable aspect of feminine identity, crucial for success in marriage.
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