Rebecca Hourwich Reyher
A woman marries into Zulu royalty, then finds the courage to leave an abusive partner.
Publication Date: 12-01-1998
Introduction by Marcia Wright
Afterword by Liz Gunner
Born in the early 1900s, and raised in both the African and missionary traditions, Christina Sibiya marries at the age 15 to the Zulu king, Solomon KaDinuzulu. The marriage starts out as a romance but turns abusive as Solomon asserts his rights to polygamy and becomes an alcoholic. Rather than submit, Sibiya turns to the Civil Court in Durban and the Zulu court locally, and with forceful argument wins her independence. This is her story told in her own words, as retold by an American journalist.
"At a time when the conflicting demands of women's rights and customary law are high on the political agenda in South Africa, Sibiya's story is as powerful, fresh, and relevant as it was when first published in 1948. The addition of Reyher's original interview notes greatly enriches the book, while the finely nuanced historical introduction and sensitive literary afterword enhance our understanding of this multi-layered text." —Shula Marks, professor of history, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
"A tour de force. By following Christina's life story—told at a time when most women were invisible in South Africa—we see revealed the private lives of Zulu women and their struggles for identity and respect. This story is a window into the past of a country that continues . . . the struggle for gender rights. Christina Sibiya is the heroine of all Zulu women, and of all women who have struggled against tyranny at the personal as well as the institutional level." —Yolanda T. Moses, Anthropologist, and President of City College/CUNY
"[An] absorbing biographical narrative. . . . As recorded so ably by Reyher, Christina's life history is an illuminating document of personal relations." —New York Times