Vagina Dialogues: Widowhood

by Ian Mangenga

In the same manner as death; widowhood is a state that awaits every woman. In the traditional sense, a widow is a women who has lost her spouse and chooses not to remarry. i have taken the liberty to extend to Black women all over this term that so befittingly describes our condition. Through this extension we explore the daily lives of women and interrogate how loss, neglect, rigidity and austerity distinguish what it’s like to be Black and woman.

In this episode i invite Silindile Nyathikazi and Pakama Ngceni who unpack widowhood relative to their experiences and their understanding. They cover some of the themes mentioned above in insightful ways and lastly remind us that through widowhood women have the opportunity to recreate themselves without the influence of external voices of men.

In the same spirit of death, on the 17th of September i was a part of group of women, Manyano, who gathered at Ghandi Square to mourn the deaths of Black women. Below is a statement that was written by Manyano.


Dear Blacks.

It has been some time since the celebrations around women’s Month and yet we wake up to the sad news of our passing. Do not be shocked because ours is not a sudden death. It is a long-term condition that is man-made, generational and made to look natural. For centuries now, violence seems to be the only language set aside for Black women in this city, this country, this continent and the world over.

Yet we are encouraged not to grieve, not to cry out our pain in public. We will sooner be blamed for our own murder than to admit that we die unnecessary deaths.

The never ending physical, psychological, spiritual, economic violence at the hands of the State (through public hospitals, police brutality, schools), our bosses in the workplace and yes, at the hands of individuals, some of whom may claim to love us makes us hostages in this world. And like all hostages, we are in constant danger. We insist on mourning to deliver our condolences to an entire continent and Black Women all over the world. We invite you to a million minutes of silence, for those who have already been forced into silence for being Black, Queer and poor. We need to a moment of silence, for the hated and indecent woman, to those whose skirts were too short, too long, for those who try to survive from violent acts on their bodies but die either way. We know we have to console you. Our short lives are not in vain. We mourn because we wish to give each other the strength to rise above our sorrow and be better equipped to take down the kind of society that maintains our suffering.

We mourn but we refuse to bury Black Woman…

Manyano, a movement for the liberation of Black Women of Azania.

For more information email: call 079 116 5302



Vagina Dialogues is a web-based short documentary series created to build the archive of 21st Century Afrikan women. Each episode features two women that explore various contemporary social issues that affect young Black women through honest conversation. It is shot in various parts of Johannesburg and mostly looks at the experiences of urban/migrant women.

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