?Mother of the nation?: rugby, nationalism and the role of women in South Africa's Afrikaner society.

06 Jul 2016

This study investigates the role of women in Afrikaner society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and how it came to form an integral part of emergent Afrikaner nationalism within South Africa. Created by men and sustained through the male-dominated realms of politics and rugby, the notion of Volksmoeder or ?Mother of the Nation? promoted the virtues of ?ideal womanhood? and became a central unifying force within Afrikanerdom in the years following the Anglo-Boer War. Although the concept of the Volksmoeder defies precise definition, it nevertheless incorporated a clear role model for Afrikaner women and became part and parcel of the Afrikaner nationalist mythology that incorporated masculinized sport as part of its doctrine. On the basis of the exploits of Voortrekker women and those who had suffered at the hands of the British during the 1899?1902 conflict, this study explores the notion of an ?idealized womanhood? and how it was woven into a male-dominated nationalism.