Stories of origin of the Sotho people of QwaQwa : the construction and maintenance of society through narratives

Thesis by Mantsi Teboho Pitso

This thesis studies the role of narratives, particularly stories that describe the origins of people, in the construction, maintenance and restructuring of society. The focus of this thesis is on the ‘stories of origin’ of the Basotho of QwaQwa, a small town in the Free State province of South Africa. The narratives told are diverse in their content and context however they play a similar role in their effect on the structure of society. The part of society that is most impacted by each story is determined by the content of predominance and emphasis of each story. Each story is categorized according to its content into one of the following categories: ‘religion’, ‘myth’ and ‘history’. ‘Stories of origin’ that are religious are used to cement relations between members of society that share the same beliefs for example Christians, while ‘mythical’ stories are used to create bonds between all Sotho people, however ‘historical’ stories draw clear lines between members of the society and outsiders thereby creating solidarity within society. These findings are specific to the society of the Sotho people in QwaQwa and cannot be generalized to other Sotho societies, however, the study of narratives and social structure can be applied to other societies including those of Indigenous peoples.

Thesis available