Original Articles

Constructions of Masculinity, Mental Toughness and the Inexpressibility of Distress among a Selected Group of South African Veterans of the ‘Bush War’ in Namibia

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 20, issue 4, 2010 , pages: 613–621
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2010.10820419
Author(s): Diana GibsonUniversity of the Western Cape,


The study examined the manner in which conscripted combat veterans make meaning of their violent experiences during the apartheid-era ‘Bush War’ in the border area between Namibia and Angola. A total of 43 ex-combatants participated in the study (23 Afrikaans-speaking; 20 English-speaking). Data was collected through in-depth interviews, e-mails, telephone conversations, online discussions through websites and letters. Data was coded and analysed by using a phenomenological framework. Ethical clearance was obtained. Military masculinities shaped some of the dilemmas faced by men who saw and perpetrated violence during the war. Negative constructions of psychological problems, distress and suffering as ‘unmanly’, affects the ways in which ex-combatants can express their memories and lived experiences of the war.

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