Whose wounds matter? An appraisal of current discourse on the movie Inxeba (the Wound)
by Lubabalo Mdedetyana, Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender, UP
Date: 20 March 2018
Time: 14:30 – 16:00
Venue: Graduate Centre L1-68
(please RSVP to secure a seat)
This paper explores the controversies that followed the recent release of the award-winning film, Inxeba (the Wound) in South Africa. Inxeba explores the practice of ulwaluko, the Xhosa spiritual initiation rite of passage to manhood (Qekema, 2017). In this context the film grapples with the challenges faced by men attracted to men in an environment that silences and oppresses same-sex desires and intimate sexual relations between men.
The controversies around the film span a broad spectrum. On the one end are members of the Congress of Traditional Leaders (Contralesa) and its supporters (mostly Xhosa speaking men and women), who are of the view that the film violates the sacred Xhosa culture of ulwaluko. On the other end are people who hold the view that the film should not be seen as affronting ulwaluko culture (Ntshwanti, 2017). Other contentious views accuse the film of cultural appropriation because its director is a white male and a cultural outsider to ulwaluko (Xaso & Pikoli, 2017; Qekema, 2017). Another view advocates for the respect of the rights of the artist to be free to produce art (McKaizer, 2018). To critically appraise these discussions, I draw from my own first-hand knowledge and experience with the ritual. I proceed by arguing that though there are justifiable concerns about cultural (mis)appropriation and its potential insidious effects, art should still be given room to find its own voice and expression.