Understanding customary practices and fatherhood: intlawulo, masculinities and relational power

Working paper number:453
Author: Jill Samukimba and Elena Moore
Unit: CSSR


This paper examines the practice of intlawulo and its implications for theorising fathering and masculinity from an African perspective. Based on in-depth interviews with isiXhosa unmarried fathers, the article outlines how fathering practices are shaped by customary practices that include relational negotiations with maternal and paternal families that can generate tensions along the lines of lineage and seniority. By drawing on Mfecane’s (2018) African centred theories of masculinity and on existing theories of provider and responsible masculinities, and, by recognising the role of maternal kin in negotiating fatherhood, we consider how women and maternal kin are active agents in the construction of alternative masculinities. The findings highlight how the process of intlawulo supports a move toward alternative masculinities in which values and practices of patience, flexibility, respect and concession are integrated into masculinities and form a necessary part of becoming a father.

Publication file:SamukimbaMoore.pdf