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Under a terrible spell

Date Released: Mon, 14 October 2013 17:20 +0200

Noluthando was allegedly possessed by izizwe (spirits). Her boyfriend from Katlegong, it seems, put them inside her.

He is a sangoma gone bad. He wanted to control her, to make sure that she remained sexually loyal to him and that she returned to him from her visits to Grahamstown, her hometown, like a marionette pulled by strings. She tried to cheat on him—tried to fight the powerful spell that he had on her—but the spirits became active, making sure that she couldn’t. He had almost complete control over her, psychologically and physically. In 2009, he raped and strangled her with a wire, and vanished.

The senseless end of the quest for complete control was Noluthando’s annihilation.

Noluthando’s lover both hated her and found her irresistible, which helps explain the desperate need to control. Murder resolved the paradox, and left the lover with nothing.

One has to ask oneself, if one genuinely wants to understand, if one believes that one should caringly walk through life, why he felt the need to dominate her in such a way. Terrible things can happen when love goes wrong. It seems that at some level Noluthando’s lover did indeed have the urge to love her—he was certainly passionately attracted to her—but he was in no position, psychologically speaking, to love.

How else can we explain the desperate need he had to control her, to go the extra mile to keep her in check? He seemed convinced that she would not stay of her own accord. His desperate need to have complete control over her flows from the place in the mind that in healthier people would be reserved for loving.

One can only explain the desperation that led to the terminal act of conquest by appealing to self-loathing. In order properly to love one needs to have some sense that one is lovable, that one is a worthy object of love, that one has something of value to offer in a loving relationship. The need to control only becomes an issue when love is desired but is grasped as unattainable.

His obsession for Noluthando presupposes that he felt at a deeply visceral level that he was, constitutionally speaking, unlovable. In this regard one can think that in his mind Noluthando stood for womanhood. By murdering her he murdered all women for being objects of impossible love, for implicitly rejecting him for not being enough of a man.

Noluthando came to represent in his mind the last possibility for loving, but he was in no position to love, so his last desperate attempt was tragically doomed to fail. Desperation and violence are a response to entrapment.

Noluthando’s lover felt small and, since his smallness has a strong sexual dimension, emasculated. He remained, in his eyes, a man-child, unable, as he believed he should, to become a patriarch. For he did not possess the requisite material means. In his eyes, he was an isishumane, a man who isn’t one.

One should never celebrate patriarchy, but there are more or less healthy forms of it. And it can become a very dangerous thing indeed when social conditions are such that those aspiring to be patriarchs are strongly encouraged by the disjuncture between values and material conditions to see themselves as isishumane. And conditions are such in our country today that most men are not given the opportunity to reconsider their patriarchal values (values, I should add, actively fostered by the great patriarch of Nklandla).

When entire patriarchal ways of being are destroyed by colonial aggression and its economic legacy, at least some of the life-guiding values typically remain, but the conditions for living in accordance with them are entirely absent for most, people are left with very little indeed upon which to build a system of meaning in which belief and material conditions can coexist in relative harmony.

And the war against women currently being waged in South Africa—in our divided city—will not end until the harmony is restituted (ideally, of course, a non-patriarchal harmony). There are few more dangerous beings than emasculated aspiring patriarchs.

And we are all the caretakers of a society that is responsible for the production of legions of murderous misogynists such as Noluthando’s lover.

This article is co-authored by Pedro A. Tabensky and Siyanda Centwa.

Series editor, Tabensky, is the Director of the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics, located in the Department of Philosophy, Rhodes University. Siyanda Centwa is a student of philosophy at Rhodes University.

Article Source: Grocotts Mail

Source:Grocotts Mail