When Apartheid Interfered with Funerals: We Found Ways to Grieve in Alexandra, South Africa

By Dawne Y. Curry.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

My child died and I clung to her grave. These were the words spoken by Margaret R., a resident of the northeastern Johannesburg township of
Alexandra, South Africa when offering her rendition of the 1976 student uprising mounted against the imposition of Afrikaans. In recalling a personal
tragedy Margaret R. attests not only to her enduring grief but her behavior at the gravesite signifies her desire to resume her assumptive world. Not only
does this exhibition plead for a return to normalcy, it also captures a subtle change in power. Stories like Margaret R.'s are silenced or buried under the
weight of privileged discourses, but it is this project's goal to excavate those narratives and unearth their inner meanings. When discussing Alexandra
most studies focus on transport, sanitation, health and protest movements such as the Six Day's War. Aside from Belinda Bozzoli's discussion of the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), few studies on Alexandra focus on the issue of death. Even with these scholarly works, Bozzoli analyzes the
issue of loss in terms of health related circumstances and the number of children deceased. She also discusses the pageantry of funerals without
interpreting the activities that precede these celebratory rites. Before funerals took place Alexandrans reclaimed the bodies and visited the sites of
death. These alternate strategies, I argue helped Alexandrans to defy the apartheid system when police officials prohibited and inhibited funerary rites.

Keywords: Resistance, Alexandra, South Africa, Grieving, Death

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.245-252. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 536.271KB).

Dr. Dawne Y. Curry

Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA


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