Layers of woundedness in Inxeba

Masculinities disrupted, denied and defamed

  • Peace Kiguwa Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Anele Siswana Department of Psychology, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Keywords: Inxeba (Trengove 2017), heteronormativity, ulwaluko, representation of masculinities


In this paper, we discuss the multi-layered representations of masculinities as they appear in the film Inxeba. Reading these multi-layered representations against a backdrop of the initiation practice of ulwaluko highlights the significance of heteronormativity in defining and engaging critical African Black masculinities in South Africa today. This is further compounded through the intersecting nuances of race and class configurations that matter for how contemporary Black masculinities are constructed. We argue that Inxeba’s successes and failures of representation bring to the fore intricate debates and ethical dilemmas of representation in the arts and social sciences more generally. In addition, if Inxeba fails in its (mis)representation of ulwaluko as less than a complex, nuanced and rich cultural practice, it is arguably successful in its exploration of the deeply entrenched heteronormative socio-material and psychical space of this practice.