Pumla Dineo Gqola

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Pumla Dineo Gqola
Gqola at the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences in 2015
Born (1972-12-03) 3 December 1972 (age 51)
NationalitySouth African
Occupation(s)Academic, writer, gender activist
AwardsAlan Paton Award (2016)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
Sub-disciplinePostcolonial literature, African literature, African feminism
InstitutionsNelson Mandela University

Pumla Dineo Gqola (born 3 December 1972) is a South African academic, writer, and gender activist, best known for her 2015 book Rape: A South African Nightmare, which won the 2016 Alan Paton Award.[1] She is a professor of literature at Nelson Mandela University, where she holds the South African Research Chair in African Feminist Imaginations.[2]

Education and career[edit]

Gqola was born on born 3 December 1972[citation needed] and grew up in Alice in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.[2] She has a BA(Hons) and MA from the University of Cape Town,[3] an MA from the University of Warwick, and a DPhil in postcolonial studies from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.[4][5]

She worked at the University of the Free State from 1997 to 2005, and from 2007 to 2017 she was attached to the University of the Witwatersrand, where she was associate professor, and later full professor, in literary, media and gender studies at the School of Literature and Language Studies.[6] In 2018, she was appointed Dean of Research at the University of Fort Hare.[2][5] She has also been Chief Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council.[2]

She was a patron of Etisalat Prize for Literature (alongside Billy Kahora, Dele Olojede, Ellah Wakatama, Kole Omotoso and Margaret Busby), launched in 2013 to celebrate first-time African writers of published books of fiction.[7]

In May 2020, she joined the Centre for Women and Gender Studies at Nelson Mandela University, where she is a professor in literature, specialising in African and postcolonial literature, African feminism, and slave memory. In late 2020, she was awarded a National Research Foundation Research Chair in African Feminist Imaginations, dedicated to interdisciplinary gender scholarship.[2] Her articles for public audiences have appeared in publications including the New Frame and the New York Times.[8][9]


Gqola's first book, What is Slavery to Me?: Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2010) is an academic, interdisciplinary study of slave memory in South Africa and its significance for contemporary gender and race dynamics.[6][10][11] It was longlisted for the 2011 Alan Paton Award.[12] A Renegade Called Simphiwe (2013) is about South African singer Simphiwe Dana, and combines biography with cultural analysis.[13]

Gqola is best known for her two books about rape cultureRape: A South African Nightmare (2015) and Female Fear Factory: Gender and Patriarchy under Racial Capitalism (2021). She has also published a collection of essays, Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist (2018), which was favourably received[14][15][16] and longlisted for the 2018 Alan Paton Award.[17]

Rape: A South African Nightmare[edit]

In Rape (2015), written for public audiences, Gqola examines the history, workings, and social functions of sexual violence in South Africa. She argues that rape is an act of power and violence, rather than a sex act, and in South Africa is normalised and legitimised by various social norms, images, and attitudes.[18] Gqola introduces the notion of the "female fear factory," also the subject of her most recent book, Female Fear Factory (2021),[19] to refer to the social discourses with she claims regulate women's behaviour through "the manufacture of female fear," especially by the subtle but ubiquitous assertion of male ownership over their bodies.[20] She argues that these discourses are strengthened by the public prominence of hyper-masculine figures such as Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, Kenny Kunene, and Oscar Pistorius, and she dedicates a chapter to analysing the public and media response to the Jacob Zuma rape trial of 2005-6.

Rape received positive reviews,[21][22][23][24][25] with the Daily Maverick calling it "brilliant and distressing."[26] It won the 2016 Alan Paton Award.[27] Chair of Judges Achmat Dangor said it was "fearless" and "nuanced and cogently argued".[28]



  • What is Slavery to Me?: Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2010. ISBN 9781868146925.
  • A Renegade Called Simphiwe. Johannesburg: MFBooks, 2013. ISBN 9781920601089.
  • Rape: A South African Nightmare. Johannesburg: MF Books, 2015. ISBN 978-1920601522
  • Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist. Johannesburg: Jacana Media, 2018. ISBN 9781920601874.
  • Female Fear Factory: Gender and Patriarchy under Racial Capitalism. La Vergne: Melinda Ferguson Books, 2021. ISBN 9781990973109.[29]

As editor[edit]

  • Miriam Tlali, Writing Freedom. Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2021. ISBN 0796925623.[30]

Selected articles[edit]

  • "Homeland banter." In Running Towards Us: New Writing from South Africa (ed. Isabel Balseiro). Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2000. ISBN 0325002312.
  • "Ufanele uqavile: blackwomen, feminisms and postcoloniality in Africa." Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity (50): 11–22, 2001. ISSN 1013-0950.
  • "Language and power, languages of power: a black woman's journey through three South African universities." In Hear Our Voices: Race, Gender and the Status of Black South African Women in the Academy (ed. Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela and Zine Magubane). Pretoria: UNISA, 2004. ISBN 1868882942.
  • "How the 'cult of femininity' and violent masculinities support endemic gender based violence in contemporary South Africa." African Identities. 5(1): 111–124, 2007. doi:10.1080/14725840701253894. ISSN 1472-5843.
  • "Brutal inheritances: echoes, negrophobia and masculinist violence." In Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa (ed. Shireen Hassim). Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2008. ISBN 9781868144877.
  • "The status of women in Africa: a reflection on patterns and eruptions." In Gender Instruments in Africa: Consolidating Gains in the Southern African Development Community (ed. Michele Ruiters). Midrand: Institute for Global Dialogue, 2008. ISBN 1920216081.
  • "'The difficult task of normalizing freedom': spectacular masculinities, Ndebele's literary/cultural commentary and post-Apartheid life." English in Africa. 36(1): 61–76, 2009. ISSN 0376-8902.
  • "Unconquered and insubordinate: embracing black feminist intellectual activist legacies." In Becoming Worthy Ancestors: Archive, Public Deliberation and Identity in South Africa (ed. Xolela Mangcu). Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2011. ISBN 9781868145577.
  • "a playful but also very serious love letter to gabrielle goliath." In Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa (ed. Desiree Lewis and Gabeba Baderoon). Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2021. ISBN 1776146107.


  1. ^ "Rape". NB Publishers. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "New NRF SARCHI Chair in African Feminist Imaginations for Mandela Uni". Nelson Mandela University. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  3. ^ Gqola, Pumla Dineo (1999). "Black woman, you are on your own: images of black women in Staffrider short stories, 1978-1982" (MA thesis).
  4. ^ Gqola, Pumla Dineo (2004). "Shackled memories and elusive discourses? Colonial slavery and the contemporary cultural and artistic imagination in South Africa" (PhD thesis).
  5. ^ a b "Professor Gqola appointed as the new Dean of Research". University of Fort Hare. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b "What is Slavery to Me?". Wits University Press. 15 March 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  7. ^ Kan, Toni, "Etisalat launches new fiction prize". Archived 14 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, The Nigerian Telegraph, 5 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Pumla Dineo Gqola". New Frame. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  9. ^ Gqola, Pumla Dineo (2 December 2020). "Zanele Muholi Walks In With the Ancestors". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  10. ^ Murray, Jessica (1 May 2013). "An interdisciplinary investigation of memory and representation: book review". Historia. 58 (1): 250–252. hdl:10520/EJC136179.
  11. ^ Barbara, Boswell (2012). "What is Slavery to Me? Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Pumla Dineo Gqola". Postcolonial Text. 7 (1). doi:10.18772/12010045072. ISBN 9781868146925.
  12. ^ "The 2011 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award Longlist". Sunday Times. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  13. ^ Ramugondo, Elelwani L. (2015). "Book Review: Pumla Dineo Gqola. A Renegade Called Simphiwe". JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies (26). ISSN 1530-5686.
  14. ^ "Reflecting Rogue by Pumla Dineo Gqola". Fairlady. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  15. ^ Naidoo, Prakash (10 August 2017). "Essays by Pumla Dineo Gqola". Business Day. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  16. ^ Sosibo, Kwanele (11 August 2017). "A beautiful feminist mind divorced from self-indulgence". The Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  17. ^ Malec, Jennifer (3 April 2018). "2018 Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction longlist announced". The Johannesburg Review of Books. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  18. ^ Pumla Dineo, Gqola (2015). Rape: A South African Nightmare. Johannesburg: MF Books. p. 22.
  19. ^ Mafolo, Karabo (2021-07-25). "Pumla Gqola: Dismantling the 'female fear factory' of patriarchal policing and violence against women". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  20. ^ Pumla Dineo, Gqola (2015). Rape: A South African Nightmare. Johannesburg: MF Books. p. 80.
  21. ^ Zikalala, Zukolwenkosi (2 April 2016). "A nation awakened out of its sleep paralysis: A review of Pumla Dineo Gqola's Rape: A South African Nightmare". Agenda. 30 (2): 153–158. doi:10.1080/10130950.2016.1218122. ISSN 1013-0950. S2CID 151968461.
  22. ^ Nicholson, Tamaryn Jane (2016). "A call to action". Psychology in Society. 52 (52): 121–124. doi:10.17159/2309-8708/2016/n52a15. ISSN 1015-6046.
  23. ^ Kgalemang, Malebogo; Setume, Sinzokuhle D. (2016). "Pumla Dineo Gqola's Rape: A South African Nightmare"(PDF). Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies. 30 (2).
  24. ^ Bennett, Jane (2017). "Rape: A South African Nightmare, by Pumla Dineo Gqola" (PDF). Feminist Africa. 22: 233–238.
  25. ^ Buti, Mokheseng Richard (2 July 2016). "Pumla Dineo Gqola. Rape: A South African Nightmare". International Feminist Journal of Politics. 18 (3): 507–508. doi:10.1080/14616742.2016.1191285. ISSN 1461-6742. S2CID 148526508.
  26. ^ Davis, Rebecca (24 September 2015). "Review – Rape: A South African Nightmare". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  27. ^ "Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole win the 2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards". Sunday Times. 25 June 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  28. ^ Mulgrew, Nick (29 June 2016). "2016 Sunday Times Literary Award Winners Announced". PEN South Africa. Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  29. ^ De Groot, Sue (27 June 2021). "'Patriarchy needs fear': Pumla Dineo Gqola's new book on how women are kept afraid". Sunday Times. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  30. ^ "Miriam Tlali". The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Retrieved 8 November 2021.

External links[edit]