Shem, Ham, Japheth and Zuma – Genesis 9:25 -27 and masculinities in South Africa

Jacob Johannes Smit Meiring


The article explores the interpretation and reception of Gen 9:25-27 and how the so-called “curse of Ham” contributed to the construction of masculinities in South Africa. The impact of the Ham ideology on black people and on the construction of masculinities is explored from the perspective of a contemporary theological anthropology as ‘embodied sensing’.


The Ham ideology also has a remarkable longevity, especially in South Africa with remnants of the curse still visible and alive in the minds (and bodies) of people. Because of the unique way in which this ideology was employed in South Africa from the time of slavery and during apartheid, it is reasonable to conceive that it also played a vital role in the construction of the masculinities of males in South Africa.


Curse of Ham, theological anthropology, embodied sensing, black bodies, masculinities, South Africa


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