The Western Journal of Black Studies

Volume 35, Issue 1


Africana Womanism and African Proverbs:
Theoretical Grounding of Mothering/Motherhood
in Shona and Ndebele Cultural Discourse
Itai Muwati—University of Zimbabwe
Zifikile Gambahaya—University of Zimbabwe
Tavengwa Gwekwerere—University of Zimbabwe

This article sets out to validate the Africana Womanist literary theory as an intellectual paradigm grounded in knowledge and values derived from the African people’s cultural experiences. It achieves this by analyzing cultural discourse from the continent, drawing particular attention to Shona and Ndebele proverbs and sayings. The Shona and Ndebele proverbs and sayings analyzed in the article candidly express perspectives on mothering/motherhood, which is one of the 18 descriptors advanced by Hudson-Weems in her explication of Africana Womanism (1993 and 2004). Against this background, the article contends that Africana Womanism is built around and informed by African survival technologies evolved over many centuries by Africanans themselves. The article’s argument, then, is articulated within the confines of the realization that theories are expressions of culturally derived knowledge.
pp. 1-8


Family Stories:
Black/White Marriage During the 1960s

Carol Shepherd McClain—Univ. of California (Retired Independent Scholar)

Black/White romance has become increasingly commonplace in the United States in recent years. Primetime television shows and movies frequently present as unremarkable the love affairs between Black men and White women and between Black women and White men. Americans have become accustomed to vicariously experience Black/White interracial intimacy through celebrity liaisons. Polls tell us that Americans are becoming less opposed to interracial dating and marriage than in previous decades (National Opinion Research Center, 2002; Pew Research Center, 2003). Why has interracial love become more accepted in recent years, and, more importantly, why is Black/White interracial sexual intimacy often cast as ordinary at this moment in American life? Just 50 years ago, a Black man in the South risked his life if suspected by Whites of looking the wrong way at a White woman. A White woman faced rejection by her family and disgrace in the eyes of White society for having a child by a Black father. In 1967, when the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws, Black/White marriage was still illegal in 17 states (Kennedy, 2000:144).
pp. 9-21


Problems Encountered in the Teaching of
Religious Education: A Case Study in Botswana

Wapu N. Raditoaneng—University of Botswana

The Government of Botswana and Batswana as a nation have long realized that the preservation, development and promotion of the nation’s culture through religious education and freedom are prerequisites for the creation of a stable social environment. Botswana promotes freedom of religion, worship, spirituality, morality, and tolerance where people can enjoy the freedoms to engage in any type of religious associations and doctrines as written in the national constitution of 1966. Based on a qualitative case study of 100 Primary School teachers and 100 students conducted in October 2007 to January 2008 in selected areas of Botswana, this paper argues that the proliferation of religions other than Christianity makes it difficult for teachers, in practice, to effectively and efficiently impart knowledge, positive attitudes, skills and best practice in the teaching of religious education as an examinable subject in Botswana’s primary schools. However, despite hiccups in practice, legally Botswana’s national constitution accords different types of freedom, and the national vision 2016 encourages tolerance and religious freedom as cornerstones of democratic governance. Teachers therefore experience a multiplicity of problems, (partly due to the gaps between theory and practice).These problems also have implications for teacher preparation and training in the teaching of Religious Education.
pp. 22-38


Was There a Distinct “African American Sociology”?
Vernon J. Williams Jr.—Indiana University, Bloomington

It is high time that scholars of the history of sociology abandon the Anglo American “firsts”—African American” firsts” binary. We must admit that those Anglo American and African American sociologists writing before the late 1960s were not permanently enmeshed in static categories, but were sophisticated social scientists who learned from what they read and from their contact with other able scholars on both sides of the color lines, and who reflected on the inexorable social forces to which they were exposed—they were persons who were developing, changing and making significant contributions to the ideas that society and culture were powerful forces.
pp. 39-43


Spirit-Possession Rituals in Southern Ghana:
Priests, Musicians, and Ritual Efficacy

William D. Banks—Wayne State University

In this article, I aim to show that possession rituals in southern Ghana problematize a notion of priests as always the central religious actors responsible for ritual efficacy in indigenous religious life. I present an analysis of possession rituals at two shrines in villages located in the Eastern Region of Ghana. While priests are normally responsible for mediating between humans and the spirit realm, my analysis suggests that during possession rituals, the ritual labor of communicating with the spirits becomes the responsibility of the musicians, because music is believed to invoke the spirits and manage their engagement during rituals of possession. Thus, priests must rely on the musical-ritual acumen and abilities of others to help ensure ritual efficacy.
pp. 44-52


The Chicken and the Egg of Economic Disadvantage and Multiple Partner Fertility: Which Comes First in a Sample of Low-Income Women
Lindsay M. Monte—U. S. Census Bureau

Childbearing with more than one partner (known as multiple partner fertility) is correlated with economic disadvantage, although the direction of that relationship is not known. In this paper, I examine this question by locating the arrival of children by a second father in women’s life histories of childbearing, work, and public assistance use, in an effort to understand which comes first - multiple partner fertility or disadvantage? Using a low-income, predominantly African-American, sample, I find that relative economic well-being is not predictive of a birth to a second partner. However, women are subject to significantly greater economic stress after the transition into multiple partner fertility, suggesting that although relative disadvantage may not explain women’s entry into higher order childbearing relationships, women’s financial well-being does suffer as a result of becoming multiple partner fertility mothers.
pp. 53-66


Book Reviews

A Review of Africana Methodologies from Molefi Kete Asante, Terry Kershaw and Ama Mazama: The Africana Paradigm We Need to Embrace
Reviewers: Melissa Burgess and Biko Agozino
pp. 67-73

Making a Way Out of No Way:
African-American Women and the Second Great Migration

Author: L. K. Boehm
Reviewer: Sharon G. Waldrum, North Carolina
pp. 74-74

Inside Urban Charter Schools:
Promising Practices and Strategies in Five High-Performance Schools

Authors: Katherine Merseth with Kristy Cooper, John Roberts,
Mara Casey Tieken, Jon Valant and Chris Wynne
Reviewer: Daphne W. Ntiri, Wayne State University
pp. 74-76

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