Original Research - Practical Theology

Poetic song of Hester. Secondary infertility: Losing infants, inheriting a child

Ilse Gravett, Julian C. Müller
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 66, No 2 | a844 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v66i2.844 | © 2010 Ilse Gravett, Julian C. Müller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 April 2010 | Published: 08 September 2010

About the author(s)

Ilse Gravett, Department of Practical Theology University of Pretoria South Africa, South Africa
Julian C. Müller, Department of Practical Theology University of Pretoria South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

The aim of the article was to explore the narrative of Hester, a black South African woman, who is living with secondary infertility. The perspective is that of postfoundational practical theology, feminist theology and social constructionist narrative methodology. Fertility, as one of the most intimate areas of human existence, lies at the heart of life itself. Within the African tradition, motherhood is seen as almost sacred. Despite Hester’s multiple identities, one which is that of adoptive mother, the absence of biological children causes her to be regarded as a ‘childless’ woman. That identity not only disproportionately defines her, but also stigmatises her as shameful and an outsider. Within the traditional African worldview being healthy (including being fertile) is seen as being in harmony with the societal order and systemic, spiritual and religious environment.

Hester’s social construction of her ‘self’ is that of helplessness, reflected in her near illiteracy, low economic status, socio-cultural position and lack of skills. Her childlessness reinforced her helplessness. Her ‘woundedness’ was perpetuated by the fact that she could not share her painful story openly. In the article Hester’s story is presented as a poem, titled: ‘the thing that doesn’t want to come out’. The article concludes with Hester’s reconstruction of ‘self’ as a woman, although poor, also blessed.


Keywords

African feminist theology; infertility within the African context; issues of death; mutual embracement; secondary infertility

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