Kassim Kone


This paper argues that an ideology of masculinity among the Bamana is based on the belief of supremacy of the male biological heritage over the female heritage in procreation. The statuses and roles of Bamana men and women remain culturally and contextually fluid however. Father to his own children, a man is also the male mother to his sister’s child. On the opposite, the paternal aunt is the female father to her brother’s child. A clear picture of the gender relations requires an understanding of women’s roles and their power and authority in their families of orientation. Similarly, male domination among the Bamana must be understood in the light of the complexities of men’s relationship with their sisters and their sisters’ children as well as the increasing authority of mothers and wives as they grow older. This paper explores contexts in which the Bamana culture allows the conceptual suspension of one gender and the adoption of another.