Female chiefs

PART 2: On men, gender and history-telling

‘On men, gender and history-telling’ is the second in a three-part photo essay series documenting an ongoing oral history project on the historical changes of women’s political and spiritual power among the Yaawo people in Niassa, northern Mozambique.

History-telling is a gendered practice, and nowadays it is often the male elders that are the main narrators of the oral histories of the nineteenth century Yaawo chieftaincies.

This essay explores the different ways that these men remember female figures of authority of the past. Moreover, it looks at how men, when telling these narratives, also story gendered temporal lifeworlds.

Ce-Ngulupe, the first female chief, and the birth of the Nam’paanda dynasty at Mount Unangu

I have been circling Mount Unangu this week, conducting interviews on the territorial chieftaincies that rose to power in this area in the mid-1800s (before the arrival of the Portuguese) and the oral narratives of the first chiefs and acibiibi.

Unsurprisingly, Mount Unangu also features prominently in this oral history.

Mount Unangu seen from the direction of Mapudje