Dmitri Jegels' Blog

A perspective on perspectives and life's other incidentals

  • Categories

  • Archives

Masters Thesis: Completed February 2011



Title page

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Magister Artium in the Department of Linguistics, University of the Western Cape.

Supervisor: Professor Chris Stroud

February 2011














The literacy orientation of preschool children in a multilingual environment: The case of post-apartheid Manenberg.

D.G.A. Jegels

Magister Artium thesis, Department of Linguistics, University of the Western Cape.

This thesis is the result of an ethnographic study of the multilingual literacy practices of a group of families in their particular spaces within the urban context of the community of Manenberg, with the specific view of investigating the links between spatial and urban capital and the literacy practices to be encountered amongst these families.

The following questions form the core of the study:
1. What are the parental ethnotheories about literacy and schooling?
2. Are there family literacy practices that may enhance preschool children’s ability to make meaning within the school system?
The results of the thesis show a range of beliefs resulting in parents adopting a range of strategies in terms of language choice and literacy socialisation of their children. The thesis also shows that the vast majority of parents view acquisition of English as important, that there is a definite concern about access to libraries and about safe places for children to engage in extramural activity. Parental ethnotheories have a direct bearing on how the preschool child is oriented towards literacy. This includes implications for what languages the preschool child is exposed to, what medium of instruction parents prefer for their children (which is often not the language of highest competence of the child), whether or not various supposedly accessible resources for the promotion of children’s literacy are tapped into, and whether or not parents become actively involved in the literacy acquisition of their children.

However, these findings need to be seen in the larger context of the research participants’ perceptions and discourses about space, multilingualism, and literacy. Some unexpected findings are shown as a result of listening to people’s voices on the ground. The respondents’ ethnotheories of multilingualism, space, and literacy produce narratives of local patriotism, pride in Cape Afrikaans, and of emplacement rather than displacement. Urban planning structures, whether envisaged under apartheid or by successive regimes in the post apartheid era, are shown to have become less rigid, fluid, and porous. The local moral economy works to legitimise poverty, so that living in a shack is not stigmatised, and gang members are seen to be full members of the local community, ignoring normative structures that would treat such agents in a punitive manner beyond the borders of Manenberg. Residents, though mostly impoverished and lacking in high levels of education, are shown to remain marginalised through a lack of material resources, with many in need of a strategic orientation to resources, including those which would enable them to orient their children to literacy in such a way as to enable them to make a successful transition to the school system.

February 2011


I declare that The literacy orientation of preschool children in a multilingual environment: The case of post-apartheid Manenberg is my own work, that it has not been submitted before for any degree or examination in any other university, and that all the sources I have used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged as complete references.

Dmitri Garcia Aloysius Jegels February 2011

Signed: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The research is linked to two projects: one is funded by the Vlaamse Interuniversitêre Raad (VLIR), which is concerned with looking at multilingualism in an urban environment, and the implications this holds for people’s agentive participation within society. The other is funded by the South African Netherlands Program for Alternative Development (SANPAD), and is concerned with finding ways of empowering marginalised communities through the development of early literacy. I should like to thank both VLIR and SANPAD for their generous funding, without which this work would not have been possible.

I would also like to thank those members of the Manenberg community who participated in this project and rendered assistance to me, specifically Mr Cameron Williams of the Manenberg Education and Development Trust (the education sector of the Proudly Manenberg), Boeta D of the Safety Sector of Proudly Manenberg, and especially the families who so warmly received me into their homes.

Finally, I am most grateful to Professor Stroud and his team for the mentoring and guidance which has allowed me to finally reach this goal, and a special thank you to Geoff Louw for intercessions above and beyond the call of duty.


Title page i
Keywords ii
Abstract iii
Declaration v
Acknowledgments vi

Chapter 1. Introduction 1
Chapter 2. Theoretical framework: Ethnography of literacy in multilingual spaces 7
Chapter 3. Methodology 21
Chapter 4. Ethnography of Manenberg 35
Chapter 5. Practices of literacy 48
Chapter 6. Ethnotheories of multilingualism, space, and literacy 66
Chapter 7. Literacy trajectories 98
Chapter 8. Conclusion 105

References 108
Appendices 115
Appendix A: Example of consent form …115
Appendix B: Example of questionnaire 117
Appendix C: Evelyn’s diary 128
Appendix D: Example of transcription 130

Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 Background
Just as according to Lefebvre (1971: 25) a certain space was shattered around 1910, so a certain space was shattered in 1985 (four years before the fall of the Berlin wall, that symbol of the end of the Cold War), when former apartheid president PW Botha infamously failed to “cross the Rubicon” (cf. Giliomee, 2008: 2) when he made his much awaited speech to the National Party (NP) of Natal, and which was televised to an international audience. I contend that the space that was shattered was the space of Afrikaner political power, of continued white (political) hegemony, of a particular social practice, of continued NP social engineering in South Africa. That speech triggered a series of events, from heightened international sanctions and capital outflow, to rebellion within the ranks of the NP. A few months later, when PW suffered a mild stroke, his henchmen were much emboldened, and he was ousted and replaced by FW de Klerk, who presided over white South Africa’s political capitulation to the collective South African liberation movement. However, while South Africa has since 1994 been a constitutional democracy, much of apartheid’s legacy remains.

Undergirding apartheid’s lingering legacy is “a body of repugnant legislation enacted by the NP immediately after its first electoral victory [in 1948]” (Butler, 2004: 17), which includes the Population Registration Act, the Immorality Act, the Group areas Act, and the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. These Acts respectively classified people into separate (arbitrary) race groups, prohibited marriage or even sexual contact between race groups, enforced racial residential segregation, and segregated sporting facilities, cinemas, transport, and restaurants. Later, segregation was enforced within the realm of education as well. In short, daily life in South Africa was utterly racialised, with the NP government insisting on carrying out its vision of a socially engineered South Africa based on race, which, having no basis in science, caused it to resort to ridiculous measures such as the pencil test to classify people whose ‘race’ they were unable to determine. One of the consequences of this body of legislation was the forced removal of 3.5 million people (ibid.: 20) who were deemed to be living in an area that did not match their racial classification. In Cape Town, this resulted in tens of thousands of people classified other than white to be forcibly moved to townships on the Cape Flats. One such township being Manenberg, which in the apartheid scheme of things was reserved for people classified as ‘coloured’. Today, in a demonstration of the aforementioned lingering legacy of apartheid, Manenberg remains largely populated by people who were classified as ‘coloured’ under the apartheid regime (although there is evidence that this is slowly beginning to change), and they find themselves in dire socio-economic circumstances, with most families unable to fully participate in the mainstream economic life of the new South Africa. This is one of the motivating factors for the present study.

1.2 Location and brief history of Manenberg
Manenberg is located approximately fifteen kilometres east of the Cape Town central business district, and is bounded by three major roads (Duinefontein Road to the east, Old Lansdowne Road to the south, and Klipfontein Road to the north), with a fourth, Vanguard Drive to the west, close by. The N2 highway is the major route from Manenberg to the city centre, and is easily accessed via Klipfontein Road and Vanguard Drive. (Willenberg and September, 2008). The land on which Manenberg was established was used for farming purposes until the 1930s, having been occupied since the 1600s by Jewish, German, and Dutch settlers who had leased it from the colonial authorities for agricultural purposes. After the 1930s the land was reserved for mass housing by the Cape Town City Council. Manenberg, having been classified as a ‘coloured’ Group Area, in the 1960s became one of the last areas where families were relocated after having been forcibly removed from inner-city locations as a result of the enforcement of the Group Areas Act of 1950. (Salo, 2004; Legget, 2005; Willenberg and September, 2008).

Today, Manenberg is populated predominantly by working class people, there is a high level of unemployment in the area, and of those who do have jobs, most earn extremely low wages. This situation is exacerbated by widespread substance abuse and the scourge of gangsterism. To compound matters, many of the schools are under-resourced and overcrowded (Willenberg and September, 2008; Williams, 2009; Janecke, 2009). For most of the inhabitants of Manenberg, political freedom has not meant an escape from the effects of grinding poverty. The following 3D map (Figure 1) by Turok and Sinclair-Smith (2009) provides a graphic demonstration of how population density is markedly increased in Cape Town’s working class communities, Manenberg being no exception (the population density is 138 persons per hectare, according to Sinclair-Smith (2009)).

Figure 1: Manenberg population density

Cramped living conditions compound the problems faced by these communities, affecting areas like health and education. Turok and Sinclair-Smith (ibid.) maintain that it is not uncommon to find schools “[w]ith 50 or more pupils to a class” in these communities.

The people of Manenberg are arguably at the periphery in terms of access to opportunities which allow for mobility and voice: a way needs to be found for them to engage in agentive participation at the centre rather than the periphery of contemporary South Africa. A contribution to improving the participation of marginalised groups would be to find ways of mobilising the community around conditions of language and literacy development.

It is common knowledge that the children of Manenberg face many challenges, including those presented when receiving instruction in a language other than their mother tongue. In a series of private interviews with Pastor Wayne Janecke (2009) of Silverstream Tabernacle in Manenberg, and Mr Cameron Williams (2009), then fieldworker and administrator at Manenberg Education and Development Trust, I was given first-hand accounts of the dire socio-economic conditions prevalent in Manenberg, which confirmed the findings of scholars like Willenberg and September (2008). I was also informed that since Xhosa, English, and Afrikaans speaking families have begun moving into Tambo Village (a recent addition to Manenberg), the children have started using phrases from each others’ languages, so-called crossing (cf. Rampton, 2006). Finally, there is evidence of both Xhosa and Afrikaans speaking parents (from Tambo Village and elsewhere in Manenberg) sending their children to schools in Manenberg where the medium of instruction is English. My preliminary investigations thus presented me with a picture of an impoverished community whose children face many challenges, not least of which being the acquisition of literacy.

It is clear that there is a need to document the emergence of children’s linguistic and literacy repertoires and the role played by parental scaffolding, as well as what is to be found in this community in terms of parental or caregiver ethnotheories, how these are transformed into particular literacy practices, and the implications this has for the children. Importantly, we need to explore how these events and practices are framed in relation to the construction and perception of multilingual spaces.

This thesis is therefore an ethnographic study of the multilingual literacy practices of a group of families in their particular spaces within the urban context of this community, with the specific view of investigating the links between spatial and urban capital and the literacy practices to be encountered amongst these families.

1.3 Main research aim, approach and objectives
As mentioned in the acknowledgement section, this study is linked to two projects: one is concerned with looking at multilingualism in an urban environment, and the implications this holds for people’s agentive participation within society. The other is concerned with finding ways of empowering marginalised communities through the development of early literacy. In this latter project, the research site is Manenberg, and the ultimate goal of the said project is to seek ways to mobilise the residents of Manenberg around the literacy socialisation of their children as part of an integrated programme designed to empower residents to take their place as citizens in post-apartheid South Africa. One way in which to accomplish this is by forging a partnership between the university and the community of Manenberg, while encouraging the values of social responsibility and altruism in students by means of service-learning initiatives, this study being part of one of these initiatives (Stroud, 2009a).

It is hoped that this thesis will contribute to increasing our knowledge of literacy interactions between adults and preschoolers. More importantly, this thesis has involved garnering data relating to the literacy and language practices of a group of families in Manenberg, with the view to contributing to the development by the university and its partners of an intervention programme that could use these practices as a base in order to enhance the acquisition of literacy and language skills by Grade R children, and that can create awareness among caregivers about their children’s literacy socialisation (Stroud. 2009a).

1.4 Overview of chapters
Chapter 2 gives the framework for the study. Here I point out that in this study a qualitative approach has been adopted, and that ethnography, being a method used within the tradition of qualitative enquiry, is the method adopted for this study. The collection of data for this research project therefore entailed the use of ethnographic methodology, with emphasis on obtaining parental ethnotheories of literacy and schooling. The concept of literacy within a multilingual context is then given, followed by a discussion of the view of literacy as social practice, which is the view adopted in this study. I also introduce the concepts of literacy practice and literacy event, and there is a discussion of how parental ethnotheories can impact on how parents orient their children to literacy, and of the differences between mainstream and non-mainstream homes in terms of such orientation. This is followed by a discussion based on Lefebvre’s (1972) seminal work The Production of Space, including a discussion of the phenomenon of scales (Blommaert, Collins, and Slembrouck, 2005; Blommaert, 2006), and how this applies to Manenberg. This provides for a reflection on caregiver perception of space, and how this impacts on the caregiver’s self image/identity construction, and the child’s access to books.

Chapter 3 deals with methodology, beginning with a discussion of the use of ethnography to glean data concerning parental ethnotheories, and also to document literacy practices and literacy events – real instances of what the families do. I describe how participating families were identified and selected, followed by a description of the various methods of data collection, and the types of data collected. The transcription conventions are then given, followed by the methods used to analyse the data.

Chapter 4 (Ethnography of Manenberg) provides a brief description of initial observations of Manenberg from data collected during the pilot study involving two field trips, and data collected from initial family visits and classroom observations.

Chapter 5 (Practices of Literacy) contains findings on the practices of literacy, i.e. the activities around literacy that can be found in Manenberg.

Chapter 6 (Ethnotheories of multilingualism, space, and literacy) contains findings on the specific ideas of parents and caregivers about language, literacy sites and spaces, events, and literacy materials.

Chapter 7 (Literacy Trajectories) contains an interpretation of the data to derive the probable literacy trajectories available to the preschool children of Manenberg.

The thesis is concluded in chapter 8.
The appendices contain a respondent’s (Evelyn’s) diary, an example of the consent form, two examples of a completed questionnaire, and an example of a transcribed interview. Full transcriptions of the interviews are available from the author on request.

Chapter 2. Theoretical framework: Ethnography of literacy in multilingual spaces

2.1 Qualitative approach

Thid thesis is aimed at documenting the literacy orientation of preschool children in a multilingual environment. This entails exploring three notions, that of literacy, multilingualism, and space. This in turn necessitates gaining an understanding of current thought concerning the concepts of literacy and multilingualism, and specifically how this pertains to the South African situation in general, and the situation in Manenberg in particular. An eye also needs to be kept on the historical imperatives which led to the community of Manenberg finding themselves in this particular geographic and linguistic space at this point in our history. An approach that lends itself admirably to this type of inquiry is the qualitative approach which incorporates the theoretical tradition of ethnography.

Qualitative research is said to be inductive, in that it moves from the particular to the general, and that it is interpretive. Denzin and Lincoln (2005: xv) state that the qualitative research project has an open-ended nature, which leads to continuous resistance to a “single, umbrella-like paradigm” being imposed on it. However, they (ibid, 2005: 3) offer an initial, generic definition:

Qualitative research is a situated activity that locates the observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These practices trans¬form the world. They turn the world into a series of representations, including field notes, inter¬views, conversations, photographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world.

Qualitative research is therefore ideally suited to understand human agency, its possibilities and constraints, and how what is found at the level of everyday interaction is informed by larger scale processes and structures. This form of research also provides opportunities for highlighting the voice of the participants; it therefore has an ethical dimension of conserving authenticity and conferring ownership. One theoretical tradition that employs qualitative inquiry is ethnography, which is dealt with in the next section.

2.2 Ethnography

According to Patton (2002: 81), “[e]thnography, the primary method of anthropology, is the earliest distinct tradition of qualitative enquiry”, with the notion of culture being central to ethnography, since “[e]thnographic enquiry takes as its central and guiding assumption that any human group of people interacting together for a period of time will evolve a culture”. Patton (ibid.: 83) states further that traditionally, “ethnographers have used the methods of participant observation and intensive fieldwork” to conduct their studies, and ethnography is today applied “to the study of contemporary society and social problems”, including poverty and education. However, ethnography goes beyond mere method; it offers a full intellectual programme, i.e. a theoretical stance, since “ethnography involves a perspective on language and communication, including ontology and an epistemology, both of which are of significance for the study of language in society, …or of language as well as society” (Blommaert and Dong, 2010a: 7).

It is important to emphasise the fact that ethnography as an epistemology and an ontology (and not just, as is often misunderstood, merely a methodology: cf. Blommaert and Dong, 2010a) also informs understanding of literacy in multilingual spaces in important ways, and is therefore ideal for providing a theoretical framework for the exploration of literacy, multilingualism, and space, especially when these notions are explored via the respondent’s ethnotheories. The following sections will deal with each of these notions.

2.3 Parental ethnotheories of multilingual spaces, literacy, and schooling

Super & Harkness draw on the disciplines of anthropology and psychology to inform their investigations of culture and parenting, and their approach has evolved to increasingly emphasise the importance of the cultural belief systems of parents as being “an important source of parenting practice and the organisation of daily life for children and families” (1996). They define parental ethnotheories thus:

Parental ethnotheories are cultural models that parents hold regarding children, families, and themselves as parents. The term “cultural model,” drawn from cognitive anthropology, indicates an organized set of ideas that are shared by members of a cultural group… Like other cultural models related to the self, parental ethnotheories are often implicit, taken-for-granted ideas about the “natural” or “right” way to think or act, and they have strong motivational properties for parents (ibid.).

This thesis is informed by the above view of parental ethnotheories, but the study does not look at parental ethnotheories regarding parenting in toto. Rather, this study is limited to parental ethnotheories regarding space, multilingualism, and literacy. In as much as Super & Harkness (1992; 2001; 2009) have shown that parental ethnotheories in general impact on various aspects of parenting, for instance whether or not children should have their various activities (e.g. playing, sleeping, etc.) regulated, this thesis shows how parental ethnotheories impact materially on decisions parents make (whether consciously or unconsciously) in regard to their children’s language, literacy, and schooling.

2.4 Literacy

In the field of New Literacy Studies, a social practices approach to literacy is adopted, i.e., literacy is considered to be an activity – it is what people do (See Barton and Hamilton, 1998). This is in contrast to the more conventional understanding of literacy as the ability to read and write with understanding. For instance, the Chambers English dictionary (Schwarz et al., 1990: 834) lists ‘literacy’ as a noun meaning “the condition of being literate”, and ‘literate’ is listed as an adjective carrying the meaning of “learned: able to read and write”. However, as Barton and Hamilton (ibid.: 3) maintain, literacy is essentially social: it “is primarily something people do; it is an activity”. Pennycook (2010) argues for looking at language as a local practice, i.e., to “view language as deriving from repeated activity” (ibid.: 9). Viewing language as a local practice is pertinent in that “[t]he introduction of new language and literacy practices…affect local language ecologies by changing the language practices in which people engage” (ibid.: 104).

In terms of the social practices approach to literacy, it is useful to view literacy in terms of literacy events and literacy practices. Street (2000: 21) argues that the concept ‘literacy event’ “enables researchers to focus on particular situations where things are happening”, or, in Shirley Brice Heath’s (1982) terms, an event or social interaction where text plays a role. The concept ‘literacy practice’ refers to “the events and the patterns of activity around literacy[, and] link[s] them to something broader of a cultural and social kind” (Street, 2000: 21). This broader context would include what happens in terms of literacy within a multilingual setting. Martin-Jones and Jones (2000: 1) speak of “multilingual literacies”, and that, “in a multilingual setting, the acquisition and use of languages and literacies are inevitably bound up with asymmetrical relations of power between ethnolinguistic groups”.

Thus, scholars have now begun to view literacy as a social practice. In support of this view, Barton and Hamilton (1998: 7) make the following propositions about literacy:

• Literacy is best understood as a set of social practices; these can be inferred from events which are mediated by written texts
• There are different literacies associated with different domains of life.
• Literacy practices are patterned by social institutions and power relationships, and some literacies become more dominant, visible and influential than others.
• Literacy practices are purposeful and embedded in broader social goals and cultural practices.
• Literacy is historically situated.
• Literacy practices change, and new ones are frequently acquired through processes of informal learning and sense making.

Literacy practices are therefore defined more as “cultural ways of utilising literacy” (ibid.: 7), and this includes people’s awareness of and beliefs about literacy. This implies that literacy practices are not always observable. Instead, it is more useful to describe literacy events, for these are “activities where literacy plays a role [, where some type of text is involved, and as such]… observable episodes which arise from practices and are shaped by them” (ibid.).

While there is evidence in the literature (e.g. Gee, 2004) that children who are poor have difficulty in acquiring literacy, Brice Heath (1982) laments that “little is… known about what goes on in… literacy interactions between adults and preschoolers in communities around the world.” Her paper shows that communities have “rules for socially interacting and sharing knowledge in literacy events,” that “ways of taking meaning” from books are learnt, and that mainstream (i.e. middle class) and nonmainstream children are differently oriented to literacy. A sobering insight is that literacy orientations can differ even within different nonmainstream communities, or even, as is shown in this thesis, within the same nonmainstream community.

Locally, Stein and Slominsky’s (2006) study documents literacy events in three Johannesburg families, and shows that different, even contrasting messages about literacy are conveyed to children, which ultimately influence “particular orientations towards the future” (2006: 143). Even closer home, Prinsloo’s (2004) paper considers the multimodal and multilingual interactions of children at play in Khayelitsha, a sprawling township on the Cape Flats, and demonstrates how the children use hybrid sources to assist them in meaning making, and that these are linked to their performances in contexts that include that of the classroom. This ties in with Slabbert and Finlayson’s (2000) study, which shows that in urban post-colonial contexts in Africa, traditional social boundaries are blurred, including associations of particular identities and particular ways of speaking. As suggested by Pavlenko and Blackledge (2004), in such a multilingual context there is evidence of hybridity in terms of identity: in other words, identities are negotiated, i.e. not fixed, stable and bounded.

The many challenges facing children in Manenberg mentioned in Chapter 1, including that of the acquisition of literacy, remind one of Gee’s (2004: 7) statement that the majority of children who do not fare well in early reading are those who are poor and/or who come from “minority groups whose members faced a history of prejudice and oppression”. Gee (ibid.: 11) states further that while acquiring one’s first oral language is a natural process, learning to read is not. Gee (ibid.) argues that in addition to the two “major learning processes in human development…(natural and instructed), ” we also need to consider what he refers to as ‘cultural learning processes’. For Gee then,

[c]hildren who learn to read successfully do so because, for them, learning to read is a cultural and not primarily an instructed process, [and] this cultural process has long roots at home (ibid.: 13).

Given the above, it was deemed appropriate to conduct an ethnographic study of select families in Manenberg. It was further decided that such a study would be “an ethnography of a set of cultural practices, those concerned with literacy” (Barton and Hamilton, 1998: 4.).

2.5 Multilingualism

Since 1994 multilingualism in South Africa has been enshrined in the constitution with the recognition of eleven official languages and conceptualised in a specific way as what we could call serial monolingualism. Although in theory all languages are equally valued and seen as equally functional, in practice speakers are aware that different languages carry different amounts of symbolic and cultural capital.

The community of Manenberg can be described as multilingual, with most speakers being able to communicate in at least two (some in three or even more) of South Africa’s eleven official languages, to varying degrees of proficiency. Blommaert et al. (2005b) note that many of these languages are spoken in hybrid forms and in varieties that can be described as displaying peripheral normativity, i.e. the majority (if not all) of them, command non-standard, rather than the standard varieties of these languages. To borrow from Bourdieu (1977), they therefore lack symbolic power, resulting in their continued marginalisation. This community’s situation represents an instance in Stroud’s (2009b) argument, namely the irony that in post-apartheid South Africa, they are yet unable to assert their linguistic rights as enshrined in the constitution. Furthermore, English remains hegemonic in South Africa, resulting in a drive for the acquisition of that language by those who do not have it as their L1. This has repercussions for the preschool children of Manenberg, many of whom are sent to schools where English is the medium of instruction (see Willenberg and September, 2008). Here the consequences of peripheral normativity for literacy is especially pertinent, in that a type of ‘grassroots literacy’, characterised by deviations from the standard, often comes to be shared by both teachers and learners. These forms of literacy have currency in the local, peripheral economy, but are not transportable to the centre (cf. Blommaert et al., 2005b).

In this regard, consider the study conducted by Bray et al. elsewhere in the Cape Peninsula in communities some of which display a similar socio-economic and demographic profile as that found in Manenberg and surrounding townships. They report that “pupils in both Masiphumelele and Ocean View complain that some of their teachers cannot speak English properly or spell correctly, leading the pupils to ask ‘so how are we supposed to get it right?’” (ibid: 2010: 183). This situation is an aspect of peripheral normativity discussed above, and it is not unreasonable to expect to find a similar situation in Mannenberg.

Bray et al. (ibid.: 177) found that some families from Masiphumelele (who are mostly Xhosa speaking) send their children to schools in Ocean View (an area formerly designated to those classified ‘coloured’) or in Fish Hoek (an area formerly designated to those classified ‘white’), because those schools are generally better resourced (or perceived to be better resourced) than the schools in Masiphumelele. Again, it would be prudent to consider that such situations can be expected to be found in a township like Manenberg.

2.6 Space

In his seminal work, The Production of Space, Lefebvre (1974) argues for the existence of different levels of space, ranging from abstract space to social space, that space is a social product, and that every society produces its own social space. In developing this argument, he critiques Foucault (in Lefebvre: 1974: 4) who, when claiming that “knowledge is the space in which the subject may take up a position and speak of the objects he deals with in his discourse,” does not “explain what space he is referring to,” or how the gap between the theoretical and the practical, the mental and the social, is bridged (ibid.). Lefebvre also critiques scholars like Chomsky, Kristeva, Derrida, and Barthes in that while some of them may suspect the need for “some mediation, most of them spring without the slightest hesitation from the mental to the social” (ibid.: 5-6). He contends that there is “an abyss between the mental sphere on the one side and the physical and social spheres on the other… [from which scholars like these] avert their gaze” (ibid.: 6).

In beginning to develop an argument for a science of space, Lefebvre (ibid.: 8) contends that we are

confronted by an indefinite multitude of spaces, each one piled upon, or perhaps contained within, the next: geographical, economic, demographic, sociological, ecological, political, commercial, national, continental, global…[and that] the very multiplicity of these descriptions and sectionings makes them suspect.

They are suspect because they exemplify the current tendency within the mode of production of today’s society for endless sub-division, even of intellectual labour. While this might not be obvious to the casual observer, Lefebvre claims of a science of space that

1. it represents the political… use of knowledge
2. it implies an ideology designed to conceal that knowledge…
3. it embodies at best a technological utopia, a sort of computer simulation of the future… (ibid.: 8, 9)

Drawing on the work of Marx, Lefebvre holds that while it is clear that capitalism impacts on space practicalities like the construction of buildings and the division of labour around the globe, there is yet another aspect of capitalism that must be borne in mind, namely “the hegemony of one class” (ibid.: 10), and that space is not a “passive locus of social relations…[but that space plays an active role] as knowledge and action, in the existing mode of production” (ibid.: 11).

Next Lefebvre points out that the fact that (social) space is a (social) product is concealed by a double illusion, namely

1. The illusion of transparency Here space appears as luminous, as intelligible, as giving action free rein.
2. The realistic illusion This is the illusion of natural simplicity…the mistaken belief that ‘things’ have more of an existence than ‘the subject’, his thoughts and desires (ibid.: 29).

Returning to his initial proposition, i.e. that (social) space is a (social) product, Lefebvre argues that this implies that “(physical) natural space is disappearing…[and that] every society – hence every mode of production with its subvariants…produces a space, its own space” (ibid.: 31). However, the notion of social space is resistant to analysis: Lefebvre points out that social space contains two sets of relations involving bio-physiological reproduction and reproduction relating to the division of labour, which in precapitalist societies are interlocked so that the two levels together constitute social reproduction, and the advent of capitalism renders these matters even more complex (ibid.). Now, he holds, three interlocking levels need to be considered:

1. Biological reproduction (the family)
2. The reproduction of labour power (the working class per se
3. The reproduction of social relations of production – that is, of those relations which are constitutive of capitalism and which are increasingly (and increasingly effectively) sought and imposed as such (ibid.).

From the above the following conceptual triad emerges:

1. Spatial practice, which embraces production and reproduction, and the particular locations and spatial sets characteristic of each social formation. Spatial practice ensures continuity and some degree of cohesion. In terms of social space, and of each member of a given society’s relationship to that space, this cohesion implies a guaranteed level of competence and a specific level of performance
2. Representations of space, which are tied to the relations of production and to the ‘order’ which those relations impose, and hence to knowledge, to signs, to codes, and to ‘frontal’ relations
3. Representational spaces, embodying complex symbolisms, sometimes coded, sometimes not, linked to the clandestine or underground side of social life, as also to art (which may come eventually to be defined less as a code of space than as a code of representational spaces) (ibid.: 33).

For Lefebvre, the above forms “a triad of the perceived, the conceived, and the lived,” within which exists a dialectical relationship (ibid.: 33). Lefebvre holds that “[t]he spatial practice of a society secretes that society’s space…it produces it slowly and surely as it masters and appropriates it” (ibid. 38). Analytically, a society’s spatial practice can be revealed by deciphering its space. In terms of conceptualised space, Lefebvre holds that e.g. planners, scientists, and social engineers, all identify what is lived and what is perceived with what is conceived (ibid.). The term representational spaces refers to “space directly lived through its associated symbols…the space of its ‘inhabitants’ and ‘users’… This is the dominated space which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate” (ibid.: 39).
It would therefore be opportune to bear in mind Lefebvre’s conceptual triad of the perceived, the perceived, and the lived when attempting to decipher space in the context of Manenberg. Space is relevant to multilingualism as an affordance that privileges certain types of multilingual proficiencies over others (Blommaert, 2010b). Furthermore space not only constitutes forms of practices of language, but it is also constituted by particular forms of semiotic practice, e.g. signage, linguistic landscapes, etc. (Stroud and Mpendukana, 2009).

As a conceptual notion and as an affordance for multilingualism and capital, space is particularly relevant in that laws enacted by the apartheid government, including the Population Registration Act of 1950, the Group Areas Act of 1950, the Immorality Act of 1950, the Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952, the Bantu Education Act of 1953, the Separate Amenities Act of 1953, and the Separate Representation of Voters Act of 1956 (removal of African and Coloureds from common voters roll) (Butler, 2004; see also the website, were aimed at controlling the geographical, physical, intimate, and mental spaces of the disenfranchised people of South Africa. These nefarious laws have repercussions even today in the democratic South Africa, as people begin occupying spaces denied to them before, but bringing along with them the preconceptions and prejudices of the past. This ultimately impacts upon how people negotiate, reconfigure, and reimagine multilingual spaces and hybrid identities.

When discussing the notion of space, the concept of scale introduced by Blommaert et al. (2005; See also Blommaert, 2006) is particularly appropriate. Instead of employing horizontal metaphors (such as flow or spread) traditionally found within the sociolinguistic register, scale refers to the vertical or hierarchical ordering of different phenomena, where these phenomena are layered and distinguished at different scales of operation and of value and validity (Blommaert, 2006). It is my contention that scaling within multilingual spaces is a phenomenon that is apparent within the community of Manenberg. For Blommaert et al. (2005: 204 – 205), scales and scaling processes (e.g. centre-periphery patterns) can be found both in the global arena and within a geopolitical region. Thus, globally, one can speak of states such as the G8 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States of America, and Canada) which dominate the centre, and Third World countries like Somalia and Rwanda which find themselves at the periphery of world affairs.

As Blommaert et al. (ibid.: 202) state, “not all spaces are equal”, and the community of Manenberg find themselves in a geographic and linguistic space that operates at the periphery of South African society. For them it remains a challenge to provide their children with a sound educational foundation to meet the challenges of life, even in the new South Africa. To compound matters, their aspiration to provide an education for their children that will make them competitive in contemporary South Africa appears to be compelling them to push for their children to acquire English, the language seen to be best to provide them with upward mobility. There is evidence that this occurs in families even when English is not necessarily spoken in the home (Williams, 2009). Immigrant communities might find themselves at the periphery of society even within a First World country: note the case of such communities in Sweden, where Bunar (2008: 43) notes that even young people from such communities “are very well aware of the position their neighbourhood, school and ultimately themselves occupy in society’s social and symbolic ladder”.

Similarly, within Cape Town, South Africa, the multilingual community of Manenberg find themselves at the periphery, unable to access the economic and social capital that accrues to those who master Standard varieties of language, particularly Standard English within the South African context.

Space and Habitus

When considering space, one cannot ignore the body: Lefebvre (ibid.: 405) argues that

The whole of (social) space proceeds from the body, even though it so metamorphoses the body that it may forget it altogether…The genesis of a far-away order can be accounted for only on the basis of the order that is nearest to us – namely the order of the body. Within the body itself, spatially considered, the successive levels constituted by the senses…prefigure the layers of social space and their interconnections. The passive body (the senses) and the active body (labour) converge in space.

This brings us of course to Bourdieu’s (1977) notion of habitus. We have seen from the above that social space is a social product: it is concerned with reproduction. For Bourdieu,

The structures constitutive of a particular type of environment (e.g. the material conditions of existence characteristic of a class condition) produce habitus, systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to functioning as structuring structures…(ibid.: 72)

Hanks (2005: 69) points out that “at base, habitus concerns reproduction insofar as what it explains are regularities in practice.” Thus, society is impressed on the individual via the habitus, both in mental and in corporeal habits, habits that are embodied (ibid.; Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). Hanks refers to this condition as social embedding, which is “realised in ways of moving, gesturing, gazing, and orienting in lived space” (2005: 69).

Finally, ideas about space being socially produced (Lefebvre, 1972) have been expanded by scholars like Scollon and Scollon (2003), with their development of the conceptual framework of geosemiotics, which consists of three systems that interact, namely how space and materiality is ‘read’, how there is interaction by people in place, and how images and texts are ‘read’. These are referred to respectively as semiotics of place, interaction order, and visual semiotics. The point of interest here is that it is possible for multiple semiotic systems to be in a dialogic interaction with each other, especially in complex places such as a mall (Nichols et al. 2008: 153). Note for instance how residents refer to Pecos Walk as “Pecos Mall” (pronounced as “Pickers Mall”: See transcriptions, Boeta D, Turn 238), in a clear reference to the trading in illicit substances that occurs there at night. From this it should be clear that, being socially produced, no space is neutral, and that space and people impact each other to varying degrees over time. The prevalence of gangs and the parallel economy has had an effect on how people view their space.

The recent study of Ellison & Burrows (2007) reflects inter alia on the phenomenon of gated communities, and points to new complexities arising in social politics around scales of (spatial) engagement and disengagement, and that fear and excitement are factors behind our choice of living and how we arrange our immediate spaces. They state that while the more affluent can afford to regard “the local as just one of many arenas,” as they are capable of establishing gated communities and they are highly mobile, so that it makes no difference to them whether they live far away from or close to areas considered undesirable by them. However, for the less affluent “local space remains important because it cannot easily be escaped” (ibid.: 307). Social politics for such communities can range from defensive engagement, for example regeneration initiatives, “to the defensive disengagement of those who are in effect ‘sealed off’ from mainstream society” (ibid.). Examples of defensive engagement in Manenberg are ones like the greening iniative of the NGO Proudly Manenberg, where community members are actively attempting to establish gardens in areas used for dumping of waste matter. Viewed through this lense, one could argue that newspaper articles by Hartley (2008) and Jooste (2009) reflect how the NGO Proudly Manenberg has resorted to defensive disengagement with city and provincial authorities over time, from protests over service delivery to campaigning to bury the neighbourhood’s ghetto image.

Space in Manenberg presents as a chequered mosaic of physically unsafe places of institutions, of resources, corridors of semiotically linked landscapes, delimited areas of ganglands, and contested spaces of moral order. The challenge would therefore be to try and determine how local spatially distributed environmental literacies construct spaces of learning, and how these interact with the ability of the preschool child in Manenberg to acquire literacy and to successfully make the transition to the school system.

In conclusion, from the above discussion it follows that a useful lens through which to view the notions of literacy, multilingualism, and space, is that of Pennycook’s (2010) view of language as local practice. He argues that “[t]o look at language as a practice is to view language as deriving from repeated activity” (ibid.: 9), and that focusing “on language practice moves the focus from language as an autonomous system that pre-exists its use…towards an understanding of language as a product of the embodied social practices that brings it about” (ibid.). Thus, when giving the example of languages in areas where sailing is done having many words for nautical practices, whereas languages of landlocked nations do not have these terms, Pennycook (ibid.: 101) argues that “[t]his has to do with the relocalisation of sailing practices in local language practices”, and “with the array of ways in which the environment is constructed through language” (ibid.: 107). Rather than existing outside of human relations and interactions, languages “are embedded in ecologies of local practice” (ibid.: 105), and an investigation into the literacy socialisation of the preschool child would do well to take this into account.

Chapter 3. Methodology

3.1 Introduction: The adoption of a qualitative approach

According to Denzin and Lincoln (2005: xv), “qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.” Furthermore, qualitative methods allow the researcher to gain detailed information about a relatively small number of cases or persons, and while this reduces generalisability, it provides an increased depth of understanding of the situation or case under study. (Patton. 2002: 14)

Patton (ibid.) states further that whereas in quantitative research, validity is determined by the careful construction of instruments to ensure that correct measurement of x occurs, so that the focus is on the measurement tools, “in qualitative inquiry, the researcher is the instrument.” Consequently, qualitative studies are difficult to replicate, and we therefore prefer to speak of credibility rather than validity in the case of qualitative inquiry. “The credibility of qualitative methods therefore hinges on the skill, the competence, the rigour of the person doing the fieldwork” (ibid.): s/he must be able to defend his or her findings by being able to meticulously point out the methods employed in the collection and analysis of the data.

3.2 Ethnography

An ethnographic study is appropriate, for this study involves investigating the multilingual literacy practices as socioeconomically structured and as source for transforming social practice and ideologies. For the sake of clarity it is important to note that, while this study employed an ethnographic methodology, it is not a full ethnography. Rather, using the example of Barton and Hamilton (1998: 5), it is “an ethnography of a limited (my emphasis) set of cultural practices, those concerned with literacy”. This study aimed therefore to observe, document, and analyse the literacy events, texts, and associated practices to be found within the target families in the township of Manenberg, and how these reflect the socio-political milieu within which they occur (ibid.: 8).

Drawing on the work of scholars like De Certeau (1988), Scollon and Scollon (2003), Nichols (2008) and Ross (2010), I also mapped out how literacy products flow along corridors and traverse different spaces of Manenberg, e.g. how readers access libraries, or how books and other literacy materials come into local spaces (see Chapter 5 for a survey of literacy practices and artefacts of the participating families).

3.2.1 Participants

This ethnographic study involved five families in Manenberg selected through purposeful sampling. I had previously been involved in assisting the NGO Proudly Manenberg with fundraising efforts (by for instance providing the venue I co-owned at the V&A Waterfront, incidentally called Manenberg’s Jazz Café) for Manenberg Education Development Trust (MEDT, the educational arm of Proudly Manenberg), which works with families who have children attending schools in Manenberg. I had also covered this initiative and others like it in my radio shows over the years, so I already had a number of potential contacts who were well disposed towards me. Towards the end of 2008, knowing that I would need to develop contacts within Manenberg, I entered into discussions with Mr Mario Wanza, the chairperson of Proudly Manenberg, and he invited me to attend their planning meetings. At one of these meetings in January 2009, I met Mr Cameron Williams, a teacher who had been seconded to MEDT by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). Mr Williams drove me around Manenberg and introduced me to the school principals at a number of primary and high schools in the area. He also introduced me to Boeta Dicky (Brother Dicky) who heads up the Safety Sector, the security arm of Proudly Manenberg, concerned with community safety, including safety at schools. These introductions proved to be most valuable, as it enabled me to begin planning the selection of families for participation in the study. Knowing Boeta Dicky proved to be invaluable, as he accompanied me on quite a few of my walks through Manenberg, which enabled me to conduct my mapping exercise in complete safety, even in the midst of a gang war.

Because of the educational implications mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2 above, the families each had to comply with the following criteria:

• The family must have a preschool child that is either in Grade R or attending an Educare centre (crèche)
• The preschool child must attend a school or educare centre/crèche in Manenberg

3.2.2 Finding participants: Entering the site

Having already established contact with Mr Cameron Williams of MEDT, in January 2009 he and I set about visiting various schools. Upon arriving at a school, Cameron would introduce me to the school principal, and I would briefly explain the aims of the overall project. While my focus was not to be on the schools or classroom situations as such, I was still potentially going to work with a family who had a child at that particular school, and I thought to inform the principal as a matter of courtesy. All the principals were very cooperative, and this paved the way for me to ask about the particular school’s Grade R class, e.g. what the medium of instruction was, what the Grade R class composition was in terms of home languages of the learners etc., and whether the school would facilitate by recommending families as potential participants in the study. This invariably led to an introduction to the school’s Grade R teacher, and Cameron and I would then begin to communicate directly with the teacher in connection with matters pertaining to this study. Later, these teachers would prove to be important for communication with the participating families.

I needed to find at least 30 families who would be willing to participate in the overall project (which is being run in conjunction with Transforming Institutional Practices (TIP)), as our Department had decided to send the third year Research Module students into Manenberg as part of the requirements for completing the module. The aim was to give them hands on experience in doing fieldwork, and also to gain some baseline data. In February 2009, after consultation with Grade R teachers of various schools in Manenberg, Cameron drew up a list of families that complied with the set criteria. Natheem Hendricks (a PhD student from the education department who had been recruited by Professor Stroud) and I then began the process of recruiting them, and we also paid courtesy calls to the principals of the schools attended by the Grade R children of the respective families. Where Natheem could not accompany me, I was sometimes accompanied by Cammy, and sometimes I visited the families alone. We went from door to door of each family on our list – this process took about two weeks to complete. When families agreed to participate, I would explain to them that a group of about three UWC students would be visiting them at least once just before the end of the first term, and at least once again at the beginning of the second term, and that the dates would be confirmed. This was to give the students a chance to meet the families, and to arrange for subsequent visits. The Department laid on transport for two compulsory visits, but they were of course free to arrange additional visits. Below are some extracts from my field notes reflecting on some of these initial visits (Note – all names have been changed):

Family in Lataba Way

This family lives in a Wendy house (dimensions approximately 3x5m) in the backyard of a semi-detached dwelling. While we had not been invited to come inside, I did get a peek inside the section leading in from the doorway, and it struck me that there were absolutely no visible literacy artefacts. It was also clear that the dwelling was not well insulated, as looking through the front door I could see through sections between the back wall and the roof. The Grade R child was at home at the time of the visit, and he was crying because his mom had told him that we had come to fetch him to take him to school. The mom informed us that one of her children had already been removed from her by Social Welfare, although it was not clear why. She called her daughter from another section of the Wendy house to give us her cell’ number, so that would count as a literacy artefact. Initially we thought that Keenan and Richard Morris were twins. It turned out that they were cousins living in the same household, i.e. two families living together. We were not sure if they live in the main house, as they came from round the back. Both moms appear to be using the same cell’phone number.

Family 1 in Greatfish Avenue

There were four males sitting in the lounge of the two bed roomed semi-detached dwelling when we arrived: Tammy’s father, an older man, and two teenagers. The older man was reading the People’s Post, a community newspaper. I noticed inspirational prints/scripture readings on the wall. The dad was happy to agree to the study being conducted, but asked to confirm with his wife whether they would allow CTV to come and film the process. Jordan Walsh and Tammy live in Stupa Boys turf. I noticed graffiti (simply the name – Stupa Boys) on a vibracrete wall on the corner of Greatfish Avenue and Gamtoos Rd, and I checked the meaning of the graffiti with Cammy. He said the name belongs to what he called a ‘junior gang.’ Another gang called the Luxury Kids had been formed as a result of a break away from the Stupa Boys, and apparently they cause much disruption in (mostly high) schools when they clash. He also maintains that most of these junior gangs are affiliated to the larger gangs like the Americans.

Family 2 in Greatfish Avenue

This family lives in a neat, well kept two bed roomed maisonette. We spoke to John’s grandma, as his Mom was at work. We were greeted by a cantankerous old dog, whose demeanour vacillated between anger and ennui. Consequently it produced a desultory bark that betrayed a mixture of absentminded irritation and melancholy. The grandma waved us past the dog, and we entered the house. There I immediately spotted a Bible on one of the couches, and I confirmed with the grandma that she had been reading the Bible when we arrived. I was required to speak up, as the grandma was hard of hearing. She informed us that the mom had moved back home with her three kids, because the dad, whom she described as well educated, had become addicted to tik. She said that John had become aggressive, and she attributed this to his disappointment at the split in the family.

Family in Kei Street

This home, a two bed roomed ground floor apartment in one of the courts, is quite neat. The front yard is covered by a structure complete with roof, giving the yard an appearance of a room outdoors. There is a Coke sign outside (on the part of the structure facing the street), and also a sign bearing the legend: “Agent’s (sic) Shoe repairs done here.” Two Telkom public pay ‘phones are mounted against the wall in the section next to the front door, these are visible from the street as one looks into the ‘outdoors room’. Above it there is a sign bearing the warning: “Notice: All shoes not collect (sic) within 30 days will be sold.” We then met Jimmy’s foster mom. There was a card referring to mother’s day on the wall, and lots of posters bearing Arabic print.

A section of a report to the steering committee of the CDEL project in Manenberg which I compiled from my field notes and the notes of some of the third year students who participated in the initial data gathering exercise is given in the next chapter.

3.2.3 Final choice of participants

In order to safeguard anonymity, I refer to the families as Target Family 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (TF1, TF2, etc.). Where actual names are mentioned, these have been changed for the same reason. All of these families have at least one child who began attending preschool (Grade R) at the beginning of the study. Given the strained socio-economic conditions under which the vast majority of the people of Manenberg live, and given the paucity of other literacy resources, it became clear to me that the library could be a valuable resource to families. One of the aims was to investigate what choices the families living at various locations in Manenberg would have in terms of physical and material movement across spaces, as I was interested in including in this research “a geo-semiotic…study of the neighbourhood affordances of resources” (Nichols, 2009). It seemed to me that a pertinent question to answer was whether or not families frequented the library, and I therefore decided to select families living both near to and far from the library (at this point I was not yet aware of the existence of ‘zones’ in Manenberg, nor did I know about the highly contested nature of Zone 3). The family living closest to the library is TF1 (500 metres), and the family living furthest away from the library is TF4 (2 kilometres).

TF1 lives in Zone 2. George and Veronique are the parents of Zebedia, who is in Grade R. They also have an older daughter, and another baby is on the way. Both parents attended high school, but have not completed matric. Both parents were unemployed at the beginning of the study, but George has since found employment as an administrator at a security company. Because of the constrained space, Veronique and the children live with her father in a maisonette in Zone 2. George sleeps at his parents’, but spends his waking moments with his wife and children at her father’s house.

TF2 lives in Zone 4: Evelyn and Tom have three children, Nastassia who was in Grade R at the beginning of the study, a slightly older son, and a baby who was born last year. Tom works as a Despatch Clerk in a nearby industrial area. Evelyn served as chairperson on the executive of Manenberg Slum Dwellers, a housing organisation that sits on the steering committee of the City Council’s Manenberg housing project. She resigned when she fell pregnant with her first child, and has not returned to the organisation, even though she maintains an interest in seeing people obtaining decent housing.

TF3 lives in 4 at the northern perimeter of Manenberg: Yasmeena and Taswell have three children – Natheem, who is in Grade R, and two older children. Taswell is physically challenged, and needs to get by with the help of crutches. Taswell is unemployed, and the family survives on what Yasmeena earns as a security officer at Natheem’s school. All five of them live in a Wendy house (size approximately 3×5 metres) at the back of the house of Taswell’s parents. Yasmeena has matric and is an avid reader. Her colleagues describe her as a bookworm. Yasmeena is proud of her mother tongue which is Cape Afrikaans, and she and her husband are rearing their children as Afrikaans speaking.

TF4 lives in Zone 5: Malia and Tahir have two children, Moegsien, who is in Grade R, and an older daughter. All four live in a neat L-shaped Wendy house at the back of an RDP house in Phoenix Village, which is south of Tambo Village in Zone 5. Both parents have not completed matric, and both parents are unemployed. The family used to live in Hanover Park (a township immediately west of Manenberg), but have relocated to Manenberg. Malia reports that they used to speak English to Moegsien when they lived in Manenberg, but when they moved to Manenberg it seemed to them that the people of Manenberg cannot speak English.

TF5 lives in Zone 1 at the southern perimeter of Manenberg: Sharon and David have two children, Charise, who was in Grade R at the beginning of the study, and an older child aged twelve who is in Grade 5, and who cannot read or write. David is a welder who used to be permanently employed, but who was recently retrenched. He still obtains work as a welder on a contract basis, and he also runs a business from home as a (micro) money lender. Both Sharon and David attended primary school but not high school. Sharon assists her husband in running his business while he is away at work, and such assistance includes performing transactions and record keeping. The four live in a backyard dwelling at the back of David’s mom’s house. While the dwelling is neat and contains such comforts as hot and cold running water, electricity, and even a ceiling, Sharon states that it can get very cold in winter, and that the damp seeps through the walls. She would therefore love to move into a brick house.

In addition to these families, I also decided to select a few families who were participating in a study being conducted by the NGO Transforming Institutional Practice (TIP). The UWC Department of Linguistics and TIP have been working closely together on the SANPAD Childhood Development through Early Learning (CDEL) project. This study involves sensitising participants to the importance of children’s acquisition of literacy, and included an exercise in which mothers and their Grade R children would produce a photo story book. I thought it would be interesting to compare the ethnotheories of the participants whom I had chosen who had not experienced this intervention, with those who had. These participants were approached during the second semester of 2010, i.e. in the final stages of this study, and I refer to them as Photo story Book Moms 1, 2, 3, and 4 (PBKM1, PBKM2, etc.).

PBKM1: Anthea is originally from Zone 1. She has since married and moved to another area on the Cape Flats. However, this appears to be a mere technicality, since she spends most of her time at her mother’s in Zone 1 at the southern perimeter of Manenberg, and her child Jade attends preschool in Zone 1. Indeed, in all my visits to this family (and there have been several), I have not once found her not to be there, which is more than can be said of any of the other families under study. Anthea completed matric at a private school, went on to complete various qualifications relating to the hospitality industry, and worked at an hotel where she met her future husband, who was working at the same hotel. She stopped working when she realised that she was hardly interacting with her children (she has a younger son as well). Her husband Jason has since obtained permanent employment at the Western Cape Department of Education. Anthea and Jason are on the City Council’s waiting list for a house in Manenberg.

PBKS: Badia is originally from Manenberg but now lives outside Manenberg. However, she works at a school in Zone 5, and her child Zogra attends preschool there. Badia is separated from Zogra’s father, and is therefore a single mom. She works as a security officer at the school.

PBKM3: Carmelita lives on the border of Zones 3 and 4, and her child Job attends preschool there. She has a slightly older daughter who is in Grade 2. Carmelita is unemployed even though she has matric. Her children’s father does not live with them, and she was hesitant to talk about her relationship with the children’s father. She expressed regret at not completing a post-matric qualification.

PBKM4: Togra is originally from Manenberg but now lives outside Manenberg, but she works as a cook at a school in Zone 5, and has a child Ibtisaamwho attends preschool there. Togra is remarried, and has an older daughter from her first marriage. Her husband is unemployed, and there is some tension between him and her eldest daughter. Her eldest daughter had moved out, causing much anguish to her family, but she has recently moved back. Togra is overjoyed at this latest development, and this informed the subject choice for the book she and Ibtisaam wrote: the story is about family. Togra says that she would move back to Manenberg in an instant, but that her husband, who is not from Manenberg, is not keen on the idea.

3.3 Data collection and analysis

Data was “gathered from a range of sources, [with] observation [and] relatively informal conversations [being] the main ones” (Hammersley, 1993: v2). The analysis of the data involved “looking for patterns in the data” (Barton and Hamilton, 1998: 68), with

interpretations of the meanings and functions of human actions [mainly taking] the form of verbal descriptions and explanations[, and] quantification and statistical analysis playing a subordinate role at most (Hammersley, 1993: 2).

To assist me with the analysis I used MAXQDA10, a programme recommended by Rudestam et al (2007), which assists the researcher to systematically evaluate and interpret texts. It provides a tool for developing and testing theories. It includes functions for searching for words and then automatically coding them. While the programme cannot do the analysis for the researcher, it is a tremendous aid in removing the tedium of manually searching for the occurrence of a particular word or phrase amongst (in the case of this study) more than 50 000 words. It also allows for colour coding, which when combined with the visual tools function allows one to obtain a graphic representation of a particular text. After transcribing the data, my analysis entailed “looking for patterns in the data” (Barton and Hamilton, 1998: 68), in order to ascertain themes and “threads of practices” (ibid.: 72) which will hopefully allow for findings which can be transposed from the local to the global.

Triangulation included multiple methods of data collection. This included:

• Unstructured interviews (both one-on-one and family group discussions) which were recorded using a Sony Handycam, which is capable of both audio and video recordings. All of the participants agreed to audio recordings, and all but one (Evelyn – TF2) agreed to video recordings. In Evelyn’s case I pointed the lens of the Handycam to a tablecloth, away from her, and she was happy with that arrangement. One participant (Sharon – TF5), was always comfortable with being recorded on video, except for one occasion, when she asked me to return later, in order to give her a chance to freshen up. I obliged, and upon my return I was humbled by the extent of her preparations – she had donned a smart outfit and applied makeup, i.e. she quite looked the part, and it served as a reminder that this mother of two was deeply committed to this study and to her children’s education, and that she was determined to assist them despite all the challenges she faced.
• A questionnaire, for which I used Banda’s (2003) adapted version of the Scottish Executive adult literacy household survey (2001 quoted in Banda 2003: 111) as a template. Banda had administered a questionnaire to one hundred and twenty one first year students taking the module on Language and Identity at the University of the Western Cape, of course a very different setting from Scottish households, and the setting and participants for this study are different as well from those of the aforementioned studies. The final questionnaire is therefore liable to be open to critique e.g. in terms of its relative appropriateness or otherwise, but I would nevertheless submit that valuable and useful data were gleaned from the exercise. I was able to deliver and receive the completed questionnaire from all but one of the participants (Togra – PBKM4). The questions were posed in English and Afrikaans, and I was on hand for all but one respondent (Sharon, who got her brother to fill in the questionnaire) to answer any queries or clear up any misunderstandings. I checked each completed questionnaire and verified with each respondent (including Sharon) that they had understood the questions and that I had understood the answers. In some instances, additional information was given or points cleared up, and I entered any additions or amendments directly onto the questionnaire in the presence of the relevant respondent.
• Observation: I took handwritten field notes and augmented these with video footage where appropriate. On one occasion I very naïvely drove down Pecos Walk (referred to by many Manenberg residents as “Pickers Mall” (See Appendices, Transcriptions, Boeta D, Turn 238) with my Handycam at the ready. I received several baleful looks from onlookers, with comments like “Kyk nogal vi’ hom!” so that I got the distinct impression that casual filming in that location without permission is frowned upon. For my subsequent sojourn of ‘walking Manenberg’ during my mapping exercise, I was accompanied by Boeta D, and I was able to merrily film away. Having him as my guide caused very different reactions from some onlookers. Walking down Manenberg Avenue, which runs from Turhall Road to Vygekraal Road, i.e. either touching or dividing or running through four of the five zones, was without untoward incident, with some onlookers even demanding to be included in the footage.
• Diaries: The intention was to leave diaries with each family for a period of say, two weeks, and each family would enter notes about any activity surrounding literacy involving the preschool child. Of the five target families, only two were willing to keep a diary (Evelyn – TF2, and George and Veronique – TF1), and of those, only one remains (Evelyn’s), as the other was lost. The Photo story Book Moms were only approached by me towards the end of this study, as I wanted to see what the similarities and differences were in terms of parental ethnotheories and literacy practices of families who had participated in a programme such as the one administered by TIP, as opposed to the families I had been working with, who had not participated in such a programme. Curiously, they did not appear to be too enthusiastic about keeping diaries, and I decided not to belabour the issue. The fact that so few participants were forthcoming about keeping a diary is of course a point, a datum as it were, to be pondered.
• The collection of literacy artefacts. Where I received permission, I collected samples of literacy materials from the homes. However, I concentrated mostly on filming the literacy artefacts, especially if it was a valuable resource like a children’s book. I also filmed items like stickers on fridges, certificates on walls, framed scriptural quotations, etc. Evelyn’s mother (with whom Evelyn and her family live) was hesitant to allow me to film the literacy artefacts in their lounge, so I desisted. However, Evelyn was one of the few respondents who gladly completed the diary exercise – in fact, on one of my visits to her she reminded me that I had not yet collected it, which I then duly did.

In terms of topics investigated, besides including findings pertaining to the literacy practices and language values etc., the data comprises information on families’ understandings and perceptions of space, safety, education, mobility, and concepts such as ‘ordentlikheid’ (decency) and ‘deurmekaarheid’ (being uncouth/raw/rude/violent/uncivilised).

The interviews were recorded (both video and audio recordings) with permission from the respondents concerned. Participation of families was on an entirely voluntary basis, and recordings were played back to the respondents both during and after the data collection.

3.4 Ethics statement

While the claim is made in 3.3 above that families participated on an entirely voluntary basis, it remains necessary to consider whether these families did indeed act voluntarily, or whether they were responding to greater forces at play. I am here of course alluding to the notion of positionality, both of researcher and of participant. Like Ramanathan (2005: 295), I feel it necessary consider the issue of “who assumes the right to speak for whom,” to take cognisance of “my relative positions of privilege,” and that my background places me as an outsider. Even though my shared experience of oppression and racial classification and discrimination under apartheid places me as an insider in respect of the people of Manenberg, my upbringing in a middle class home in various towns around the country, my access to and relative mastery of the locally prized varieties of English and Afrikaans, my work at various radio stations which thrust me into the public sphere and gave me access to the corridors of power, resulting in my accumulation of a considerable amount of symbolic capital mostly in the form of cultural capital: all of the aforementioned leads me to conclude that the relative positions of researcher and participant must be understood in terms of Wacquant’s (2008) “population doubly marginalised on the material and symbolic planes.” The township of Manenberg is clearly home to a vulnerable community. Communities such as these have historically had little room for manoeuvre or having their voice heard, and one must consider to what extent members of this community would or could voluntarily enter the role of participants in a study – i.e. do they really have a choice when confronted with a request from a highly respected institution like the University of the Western Cape via a researcher who is already endowed with considerable symbolic capital.

Elsewhere, commenting on reflexivity, Wacquant and Bourdieu (1992: 39) state that Bourdieu would have the researcher beware of “biases which may blur the sociological gaze… [these include] the social origins of the individual researcher.” There is also a bias that can be encountered in the academic field, and the researcher must be aware of the forces that are brought to bear on all symbolic producers. One of Bourdieu’s most crucial insights into reflexivity however, is the caveat about intellectualist bias, in which we are tempted to “construe the world as a spectacle, as a set of significations to be interpreted rather than as concrete problems to be solved practically.” Thus, for Bourdieu (ibid.: 40), “reflexivity entails the systematic exploration of the ‘unthought categories of thought which delimit the thinkable and predetermine the thought…as well as guide the practical carrying out of social enquiry.’”

Bearing the above in mind (as far as is possible for one grappling with these concepts), and having due regard for the need to protect the rights and welfare of research participants, permission was sought from the respondents concerned to allow interviews with them to be recorded (both video and audio recordings). The participating families were informed about the nature of this study, and about the implications of participating in this study. Respondents have the right to object to the inclusion of any material, and they have the right to withdraw from the study altogether. While I have been working primarily with families in their homes, permission was also obtained from the Western Cape Education Department via TIP for me to conduct classroom observation in order to augment the study. In my analysis and reporting I have endeavoured to maintain strict decorum in terms of preserving the dignity of the respondents, including refraining from discriminating against the respondents in any manner whatsoever. I have adhered to the academic standard of maintaining anonymity and confidentiality in reporting on my study. Adult participants were asked to sign a consent form (See Appendix).

Chapter 4. Ethnography of Manenberg

This chapter gives an actor’s overview of the issues and the physical manifestation of space, multilingualism, and literacy (including transgressive literacy) in Manenberg.

Socio-economic profile of the Manenberg community
In terms of housing, there are approximately 11 204 households in Manenberg, 44.4% consisting of free standing brick houses, whilst a further 40.5% consist of flats or semi-detached dwellings. Only 28.9% of the dwellings are fully owned, and more than half (57.2%) of households rent their homes from the municipality of Cape Town. The city rents out three different types of dwellings: maisonettes, flats, and cottages. The flats (referred to as courts by the residents (Williams, 2009; Boeta D, 2010)), come in double or triple storey blocks containing from 4 to 33 individual units. The cottages have one to three bedrooms and are semi-detached units, while the maisonettes are all two bedroomed split level constructions, each thus having a staircase. The maisonettes and flats all have bathrooms, but some of the cottages either have an outside toilet, or one that must be shared with other households. (City of Cape Town, no date; Willenberg and September, 2008)

The census data state that 8.6% of (n = 961) households live in backyard dwellings, but Willenberg and September (2008: 4) suspect that this number has increased significantly since the 2001 census. I can confirm that this is indeed the case, as one respondent (Evelyn, TF2) who previously worked for Proudly Manenberg a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) reports that they had done a count, and had found 2700 shacks in backyards between the clinic and Jordan street, an area which covers less than half of the total area of Manenberg.

Electricity is available to the vast majority of households (98.7%). Less than half (38.4%) the households have a landline telephone in their homes, and only 12.4% have both a landline and a cellular ’phone. Most of the households (81.3%) have piped water available inside their homes, with 18.6% having to resort to other piped water sources within Manenberg. The municipal sewage system services 95.1% of households, these being equipped with a flush sanitation system, and regular refuse removal is accorded to 99.1% of households. (City of Cape Town, no date; Willenberg and September, 2008).

In terms of infrastructure, there is inadequate street lighting in Manenberg, the majority of the roads are not of a high standard, and public facilities such as sports fields and community halls are poorly maintained. There is a dearth of recreational facilities and safe venues for children and youth to engage in extramural activities. The land and vlei on the west between Vygekraal Road and Vanguard Drive formerly owned and mined by a glass manufacturing company has now been ceded to the community, and is currently being developed into the “Manenberg Waterfront”. The NGO Proudly Manenberg, which used to operate from a container at the site, has now put up a double storey wood and corrugated iron structure to serve as its offices there, and during the 2010 World Cup, they also erected a massive marquee on the site to serve as Manenberg’s own FIFA Fan Park. (Willenberg and September, 2008; Williams, 2010; Personal observation/Researcher’s fieldnotes).

Despite the regular refuse removal, littering remains a huge problem, with litter evident in streets, fields, and on sidewalks. This problem is particularly plaguing the public library, and the senior librarian reports that often the library staff have to clear litter from the back of the library in order to clear the entrance to the garage. (Moose, 2010; Personal observation/Researcher’s fieldnotes). A ‘cleaning and greening’ campaign is underway in order to instil pride in the neighbourhood and also to assist unemployed members of the community, as those participating in the initiative receive a small honorarium to lend much needed financial support to their households. (Willenberg and September, 2008; Williams, 2010; Personal observation/Researcher’s fieldnotes).

Whilst the N2 can be easily accessed via Vanguard Drive and Duinefontein Road, less than half the households (39%) own any form of vehicle, so that there is heavy reliance on public transport to commute to work in the CBD or in the industrial areas. The preferred mode of public transport is the minibus taxi, which is considered to be the cheapest, followed by buses, with the least favoured being transport by rail. Even though the railway station Nyanga Junction is nearby, it is considered to be unreliable, least convenient, and unsafe. (Willenberg and September, 2008).

Of the economically active members of the Manenberg community (59.6% of total population), slightly more than a third (34.3%) are unemployed, which means that less than half (approximately 43%) of the total population is gainfully employed. Of these, the majority (58.8%) earn below R1600 per month, 37.2% earn between R1601 and R6400 per month, and only 4% earn above R6400 per month. (City of Cape Town, no date; Willenberg and September, 2008).

In terms of education, approximately one fifth (19%) of adults older than twenty years have partial or complete primary schooling, less than half (45.7%) have partial secondary schooling, and less than one fifth (15.6%) have completed matric. Less than one percent (0.8%) have completed a higher education qualification. (Willenberg and September, 2008). There is clearly a high dropout rate, evident from the fact that a great proportion of residents attended yet did not complete high school. One of the purposes of this study is to find ways to reverse this trend.

In terms of health, Willenberg and September (2008: 9) report that “Manenberg had considerably higher numbers of children under five years suffering severe malnutrition, underweight and slow growth than similarly socio-economically challenged communities such as Hanover Park and Phillipi”, which are adjacent to Manenberg.

From the above it is clear that some of the major social challenges facing the community of Manenberg are unemployment, education, and housing. To this must be added gangsterism, violence, and substance abuse. The gangs deal in prostitution, stolen goods, alcohol, and drugs, with drug trafficking being the chief source of income. (O’Connor, 2004; Legget, 2005; Willenberg and September, 2008). Plüddemann et al (in Willenberg and September, 2008: 11) report that “Manenberg…has been significantly affected by pervasive addiction to methamphetamine (locally known as “tik”).”

The numbers gangs, which originated in South African prisons, now also operate in areas like Manenberg. There are both street gangs (including youth gangs which become feeders for the bigger gangs) and numbers gangs, but they are no longer mutually exclusive, and they appear to be working together in some instances. The numbers gangs consist of the 28s, who are notorious for sexual assault especially within prisons, the 26s who specialise in theft, and the 27s, who act as go-betweens between the 28s and the 26s. From time to time there are turf wars, and the gang turfs often overlap (Legget, 2005; Willenberg and September, 2008; Boeta D, 2010).

The library in Manenberg is situated within the turf of three gangs, including a youth gang called the Vikings (Boeta D, 2010). Manenberg library is the only library in the Western Cape with bullet proof windows, and those windows have holes in them. Indeed, the senior librarian reports that the library staff have even found bullets in the books (Moose, 2010).

A view of the research site

In order to place the research site into perspective, below are two aerial views of Manenberg, courtesy of Google Earth. The first figure (Figure 2) shows a portion of the Cape Peninsula, with Manenberg (circled in white) roughly in the centre of the picture. The dark area in the south western corner of Manenberg is the body of water known as the Waterfront referred to in Chapter one. The reference to the Waterfront is of course indicative of the aspirations of members of this community: the V&A Waterfront is renowned as Africa’s

Figure 2: Manenberg from above (source: Google Earth)

top tourist attraction. As such it attracts tens of thousands of local and international visitors, with the shops clearly geared to such clientele, putting it out of the reach of most members of the Manenberg community. Proudly Manenberg at first operated out of a container which served as offices, but now they have constructed a double storey wood and corrugated iron structure on the southern perimeter of the vlei. Other activities include the establishing of gardens along the eastern perimeter of the vlei as part of attempts to rehabilitate the area after mining operations there. From time to time free concerts are held at the site (I performed as master of ceremonies at one such concert), and the site also served as an unofficial fan park during the 2010 World Cup. Despite all these commendable efforts, the difference in terms of economy, scale, privilege and power are stark and palpable when one compares the two waterfronts: it is clear that Manenberg remains an utterly marginalised community when these indicators are considered.

The subdivision of Manenberg into zones

According to Williams (2010), Manenberg was initially divided into three sectors or zones by the Police. These were from Lansdowne Road to Turfhall Road (Zone 1), from Turfhall Road to the police station (Zone 2), and from Klipfontein Road northwards to include Vanguard and Heideveld estates (Zone 3). Williams (ibid.) describes this as a logistical demarcation, and initially Proudly Manenberg used this template to divide Manenberg into 2 zones, coinciding with the police’s demarcation. Later, however, they found it necessary to divide Manenberg into 5 zones. When probed about the purpose of dividing Manenberg into zones, he maintains that it is a logistical demarcation, designed to help the NGO to perform its various functions. Proudly Manenberg itself is organised into sectors, namely the Environment, Arts and Culture, Sport, Housing, Health, Education, and Safety sectors. Here is a description of the various zones in the words of Boeta D (Boeta D transcription: turns 44 – 82;175), who heads up the Safety Sector:

Zone 1… it’s from Sherwood Park… right down till, the Downs Road…Zone 2… it’s from the circle [in the Downs Road]…right down to, er, the Bads… the swimming bath…Zone 3 is from the Downs Rd, here by the 7’s they call it the 7’s right down to Turfhall Rd… the new Turfhall Rd there…Zone 4, goes right down to Klipfontein Rd… from Turfhall to Klipfontein Rd that is zone 4, it’s all in this side…Zone 5, Tambo Village right up till, till the Junction… from the police station to the Junction.
Zone 4, that is down that side…that is the Dixie Boys, Americans, and, the…Junky Funkies.

Here Boeta D describes the five zones of Manenberg (see Figure 3 on next page). Note that these can be described in geographical terms and also in terms of gang turf: they are both physical and social spaces. The western border of Zone 2 is actually Vygekraal road, as the section beyond that is known as Primrose Park. The western border of Zone 4 is an imaginary line running parallel with Vygekraal Rd, approximately in line with the section of Jordaan street before it curves eastwards to Duinefontein Road. The section beyond that is known as Surrey Estate. Why this bears mentioning is that, similar to the residents in Sherwood Park in Zone 1, the residents of these respective areas occupied mostly ‘economic’ houses: Initially the city made ‘economic’ and ‘sub-economic’ houses available. The sub-economic houses have been described earlier, and were mainly for rent. The ‘economic’ houses were generally better appointed, many with three bedrooms and a passage, with running water – some even having hot water (many sub-economic houses did not have running water or hot water, hence the public wash house (‘the Baths’ next to the public swimming pool – see Figure 3) in the north eastern corner of Zone 2, on the border of Zones 3 and 4). These ‘economic’ houses could be bought by the occupants. Many of the occupants of such homes have since bought and renovated their homes. However, unlike the residents of Sherwood Park, the residents of Surrey Estate and Primrose Park do not consider themselves to be part of Manenberg.

To return to the zoning by Proudly Manenberg. There are many smaller gangs in Manenberg which often start up and disappear, however the following appear to be the main formations of known gangs in the different zones:

Zone 1: Americans, Luxury Kids (a youth gang)
Zone 2, Americans, Hard Livings, Vikings (a youth gang)
Zone 3: Jesters, Americans, Hard Livings, Clever Kids, Dixie Boys, Vikings
Zone 4: Stupa Boys (a youth gang) , Dixie Boys, Americans, Junky Funkies

Figure 3. The 5 Zones of Manenberg
Zone 5: Various local gangs operating only in Zone 5. The Stupas, a schoolboy gang whose members used to attend Phoenix High, maintain a strong presence in Zone 5 according to Williams (2010), and they appear to receive back up from the Americans when needed.

Figure 3 shows the police station situated in the north western corner of Zone 5 on the northern perimeter of Manenberg. Manenberg Library and Manenberg Clinic are both located in Zone 3, the zone which also appears to be contested by the highest number of gangs, as shown above. Manenberg Avenue is the border between Zones 2 and 3. The clinic is in Manenberg Avenue (in Zone 3), and the library is in Sable Road in Zone 3, immediately off Manenberg Avenue. East of the library, just off Manenberg Avenue there is a Walk that the locals refer to as a Mall, because of the drug trafficking that occurs there at night. Towards the centre of Zone 3, there is a road the locals refer to as the ‘Gympie Street’ of Manenberg. Gympie Street is situated in Salt River/Woodstock, and it is infamous for drug peddling and the other elements associated with the seedier side of life. The library is an invaluable resource especially in the context of Manenberg, and it is located in a highly contested space within Manenberg. In the context of the present study, one of the questions that needed to be answered therefore was, do residents of Manenberg make use of the library, and if not, why not? This brings us to the choice of participants, which is discussed in the next section.

As mentioned earlier, the police have divided Manenberg into two zones, and the two neighbouring townships of Vanguard Estate and Heideveld fall into a third zone for their purposes. Subsequently, the NGO Proudly Manenberg divided Manenberg into five zones, mostly in response to gang activity, but this was also partially determined geographically, from physical features like the vlei west of Vygekraal road on the western border of Manenberg, to how the streets were laid out and the buildings erected by town planners. It is an unfortunate coincidence that both Manenberg Library and Manenberg Clinic fall in the highly contested Zone 3, as it appears to be the zone most highly contested by gangs, with much drug trafficking occurring especially in Storms River Way, around the corner from the library. Turf wars in Zone 3 have a profound effect on activity at the library. According to the senior librarian (Moose, 2010), when gang wars break out in Manenberg, the library becomes a no-go zone. Manenberg Library is barricaded, covered in graffiti, and is the only library in the Western Cape with bullet proof windows, and even then many of those windows have holes in them, as the pictures below show.

Figure 4. Bullet proof windows?

Figure 5. A barricaded library

Figure 6. A youth gang stakes its claim to turf

It is almost as if the city has retreated from this space. There is no signage that this is a library, or that the city claims authority over this building. The library itself is in self defence mode, complete with bullet proof windows, burglar bars, and high metal fencing. The gangs are very clear as to who holds sway over this space, as is evidenced by the graffiti on the library walls. This state of affairs has an impact on caregiver perception of safety, with many parents viewing Manenberg library as being in an unsafe area, and this has an impact on whether or not they allow their children to frequent the library.

The following is a section of the report to the steering committee of the CDEL project in Manenberg which I alluded to in the previous chapter:

The environment
Driving through Manenberg confirms the findings in Willenberg’s (2008) Profile of the Manenberg Community:

• The residents are extremely impoverished – this was evident from observation of the living conditions of the majority of families visited.
• There is high unemployment – it is striking to observe the large number of people on the streets, outside their homes, and hanging around on street corners. The vast majority of homes had one or more (often more) unemployed persons at home when we visited.
• there is evidence of gangsterism – examples of transgressive literacy are clearly evident (e.g. the marking of territory by the Hard Livings).
• The area represents extreme dangers especially for children. All the parents I spoke to were concerned about safer playgrounds for children. Recently, a Grade R at Downsville Primary child was injured by a stray bullet.

One pertinent finding is that where children attend a school or class in Manenberg where English is the medium of instruction, both teacher and child will often not have English as their first language, with the attending complications that this can often entail. By way of example, I observed the following in a Grade R class in Manenberg:

This is a text-rich classroom, with many colourful posters and placards depicting the alphabet, the days of the week, the months of the year, examples of different modes of transportation, etc. The teacher assembled the children on a mat at the northern end of the classroom, and began a story book reading session. She first compared the sizes of two story books, demonstrating that one was small and the other big, and emphasised that she was measuring and comparing the sizes of the two books. The first story involved a sheepdog’s pup looking for its father, with the question “is dad in here?” being repeated until the pup’s father is found. When she had finished reading the story, the teacher posed some questions, asking the class “and what do1 daddy do? And where do2 daddy live?” The next story she read was about a cheetah family. At the end of the story, the teacher commented on the story, saying: “You see how nicely their mommy look3 after them? Just like your mommy and daddy look4 after you, the cheetah also look5 after her family. She also have6 a family.” While the teacher was quite competent and clearly succeeded in either introducing or reinforcing concepts such as measurement and notions of family, she was unfortunately also inadvertently modelling a non-standard convention of simplifying subject-verb agreement in her spoken English, i.e. employing the first person singular construction throughout her commentary. It then becomes a hit and miss affair as to whether or not there is actual subject-verb agreement. While the construction in the fourth sentence is correct (their mommy and daddy look), it strikes me as fortuitous, as the construction of the first person singular of the verb ‘look’ happens to be the same as that of the third person plural. (Extract from field notes from classroom observation of the morning session of a Grade R English medium class in Manenberg.)

The convention of simplifying subject-verb agreement is a phenomenon commonly found on the Cape Flats, and in this case it has clearly found its way into the classroom. The point here is that such non-standard conventions become internalised at the foundational level of learning, but when these children sit for their final school examination at the end of Grade 12, they will be subjected to an examination in which the questions are posed and answers are expected to be given in standard English. Children from communities such as Manenberg who attend classes where the medium of instruction is Afrikaans are not exempt from this type of challenge.

Consider the following journal extract for an example:

This class is interesting in that two Xhosa speaking children (L1) are attending, and the medium of instruction is Afrikaans. One of them appeared to have a better grasp of Afrikaans than the other (I tried engaging her in Xhosa, but I think she sensed that her Afrikaans was far better than my Xhosa, which is probably why she insisted on speaking Afrikaans to me. I abandoned the attempt and reverted to observing the class). She was acting as peer facilitator, translating the teacher’s instructions from Afrikaans into Xhosa, whereupon the other child was able to complete the task at hand. Consequently however, she and her friend were always lagging slightly behind the rest of the class, with the result that the teacher had to wait for them when she wanted to assemble the class on the mat for a story telling session. The teacher assembled the children on a mat at the northern end of the classroom, and began telling them a story about a hungry worm that devoured a lot of leaves and then went to sleep, and upon waking it was transformed into a butterfly. No story book was used; instead vivid descriptions and actions were used to bring the story to life. The children sat in rapt attention, adding comments and enthusiastically answering questions. I could not help but notice that the teacher was using both standard and Cape Afrikaans in telling the story, e.g. employing the Cape Afrikaans convention of dropping the final ‘r’ in words like ‘honger’ , but she appeared to be leaning towards standard Afrikaans. This was especially evident when correcting the children’s use of Cape Afrikaans terms, or English terms, e.g. informing them that the correct word for ‘police’ is ‘polisie’, and not ‘boere’ [the term ‘boere’ is synonymous with Afrikaners or the police on the Cape Flats, indicative of how people’s experiences under apartheid caused them to conflate ‘Afrikaner’ or ‘boer’ with ‘police’]. She also insisted that the children use the Afrikaans term ‘skoenlapper’ and not ‘butterfly’ (which they had been using), but here again she dropped the final ‘r’. (Extract from field notes from classroom observation of the morning session of a Grade R class in an Afrikaans medium school in Manenberg.)
A situation exists in Manenberg that is similar to that found in Bray et al. (2010: 177), namely there there is evidence that some Xhosa speaking families from surrounding areas or who have settled in Manenberg, send their children to schools in Manenberg, because of the perception that these schools are better resourced than the schools in townships formerly designated to those classified as Africans. The teachers at schools in Manenberg are all able to converse in Afrikaans and English (to varying degrees of competency), but are generally not competent in Xhosa (none of the Grade R teachers I spoke to could speak Xhosa). This has obvious complications for Xhosa speaking children, many of whom come into contact with English in the classroom only, and not at home. In the example above, the Afrikaans L1 children speak Cape Afrikaans, but the official medium of instruction is Standard Afrikaans. Even though the teacher can facilitate, one wonders to what degree the children become competent in standard Afrikaans, the variety used in the text books and in the examinations. Carmelita, one of the respondents in this study, reports that “all the years [she] got more in English than [she] got in Afrikaans” (transcriptions: Carmelita, turn 211), and that Afrikaans was more difficult for her because it was “pure” (i.e. standard) Afrikaans.

These then, are some of the challenges facing children in a multilingual environment such as Manenberg. In the next chapter, I present the findings of a survey of the literacy practices of the respondents, and of the literacy materials found in their homes.

Chapter 5. Practices of literacy

In investigating the literacy practices of the participating families, I supplemented interviews and field notes with a questionnaire which was based on the questionnaire used in Banda’s (2003) survey of literacy practices of certain communities in South Africa. Of the Target Families described in Chapter 3, TFs 1-5 all returned the completed questionnaire, and of the Photo Story Book Moms, all but one (PBKM4) returned the completed questionnaire.

Languages spoken in the home

The first question relates to the level of multilingualism found in the households under study. As can be expected, at least two languages are spoken in the homes, as is reflected in Table 1. What is of interest however, is the high frequency of Cape Afrikaans as language of first choice. Only one respondent lists Formal Afrikaans as language of second choice ( I used the term ‘Formal’ instead of the technical term ‘Standard’, as most respondents referred to Standard Afrikaans as ‘Suiwer’ (‘Pure’) or ‘Formele’ (‘Formal’) Afrikaans). English is listed as language of first choice in only one household. However, English is listed twice as language of second choice, and once as language of third choice. The phenomenon of English and Afrikaans being spoken together in many households on the Cape Flats is reflected by the fact that English and Afrikaans is listed as language of first choice in three households, and language of second choice in another.

Table 1. Languages spoken in the home
Keuse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Kaapse Afrikaans 4 1
Formele Afrikaans 1
English 1 2
English and Afrikaans 3 1

Preferred languages for reading and writing

Given the high frequency of Cape Afrikaans as language of first choice, one would expect that Afrikaans would be the preferred language to write in, but this is not the case. Reflecting the importance attached to English in the ethnotheories of all respondents as shown in the next chapter, Table 2 shows that Afrikaans is the preferred language for writing of only one respondent. The majority (five) prefer writing in English, and a further three prefer writing in English and Afrikaans. This trend is repeated in Table 3, which shows that English is by far the preferred language for reading as well.

Table 2 . Preferred languages to write in
Afrikaans 1
English 5
Xhosa 0
English/Afrikaans 2
Afrikaans/Xhosa 0
English/Xhosa 0
English/Zulu 0
Other /Ander 0

Table 3. Languages preferred to read in
Afrikaans 1
English 7
Xhosa 0
English/Afrikaans 1
Afrikaans/Xhosa 0
English/Xhosa 0
English/Zulu 0
Other /Ander 0

Kinds and frequency of reading /writing in daily life at home

The next question (see Table 4) deals with common literacy practices found in the daily lives of the respondents at home, and the frequency of these practices. Following Banda (2003: 114), I define frequent/regular practices as those occurring at least once a week, and infrequent practices as those where the respondent never engages or does not know whether he/she engages in these practices. I added another dimension of infrequency to accommodate those respondents who report engaging in these practices only sometimes. Most (six) report writing a letter or anything else regularly, but only three fill in official forms on a regular basis. Reflecting the rise of the digital age, only two respondents report not engaging in sms reading or writing, whereas five do so regularly, and one does so sometimes. Surprisingly, only one uses Facebook, and only two use MXit, a cheap social networking platform which allows users to send and receive sms messages (anonymously if they so prefer) cheaply from a cellular ‘phone via the internet. Not one respondent uses Ou Toilet (Old Toilet), a gossip site used mainly by schoolchildren and young adults which also allows for anonymous messages to be sent cheaply from a cellular ’phone via the internet, and which has drawn such strong criticism from adults that a petition has been launched to shut the site down (cf. Jones, 2010). The use of Ou Toilet appears to be widespread amongst the youth on the Cape Flats. By my own experience, at least one of its conventions (“spoeg my nat van…” – literally “spit me wet about…” i.e. gossip so much about x that the spittle flies from your mouth) has found its way into the vocabulary of some DJs in certain nightclubs, where the DJ would engage the crowd in a call and response routine using the aforementioned Ou Toilet convention. The generational gap is reflected in the strong disapproval of this gossip site by five of the eight respondents: One writes “Personally it’s nonsense” (Evelyn), another states that “it’s to[o] demeaning to our culture” (Anthea), and another said to me that “it’s dirt” (Carmelita). The fact that six respondents never surf the internet and that only two use a personal computer at home (one regularly and one only sometimes) is indicative of the dire economic circumstances that all the respondents find themselves in. Surprisingly however, all but one of the respondents report reading mainstream newspapers regularly. This is most probably because of the flow of resources via social networks, as shown later in Table 12. This fact can also account for the frequency of reading of magazines reported by the respondents. Also quite surprising is the fact that one respondent reports not reading the tabloids, which are ubiquitous in communities such as this one. Similarly to Banda’s (2003) findings, there appears to be much ‘reading of images’ by the respondents (cf. Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2001), with a high degree of watching of news in English and Afrikaans on TV, watching of DVDs, listening to CDs/MP3 players/cassettes, and listening to the radio.

Table 4. Kinds and frequency of reading /writing in daily life at home
Regular (at least once a week)

Sometimes Never/Don’t know Comments
Write sms messages
5 1 2
Update your Facebook status 1 7
Chat on MXit 2 6
Chat on Ou Toilet 8 (5respondents voiced strong disapproval of this gossip site)
Surf the internet 1 1 6
Write a letter or anything else 7 1
Fill in official forms 3 1 4
Read newspapers mainstream, e.g. Cape Argus, Die Burger) 7 1
Read tabloids, e.g. Die Son or Voice 6 1 1
Read magazines 6 2
Listen to radio 6 2
Listen to cassettes/CDs/mp3 players/Watch DVDs 6 2
Use a personal computer 3 5
Watch educational programmes 6 2
Watch recreational programmes 5 1 2
Watch news in English on TV 8
Watch news in Afrikaans on TV 7 1
Watch news in Xhosa on TV 1 1 6
Watch news in Zulu on TV 1 7

Kinds and frequency of reading /writing in daily life outside the home

Table 5 below shows the frequency of the above literacy practices in daily life outside the home, with the same trends mostly repeated. What is of interest here is the spaces within which these practices occur and therefore where resources are accessed, ranging from public transport such as the bus or taxi, to private transport, to spaces such as an office, the home of friends or family, and even the local clinic. One comment explains the apparent anomaly of a respondent not reading the tabloids: she states that she does not “approve of those sort of news” (sic) (Evelyn), thus showing an awareness of the position occupied by tabloids within the print news hierarchy. It also points to the high degree of moralising that members of this community appear to engage in.

Table 5. Kinds and frequency of reading /writing in daily life outside the home
Regular (at least once a week)

Sometimes Never/Don’t know Comments Location
Write sms messages
5 3 Taxi, on way to school, wherever
Update your Facebook status 1 7 Hospital, taxi, etc.
Chat on MXit 3 5 One respondent (pbkm1) disapproves of this application
Chat on Ou Toilet 8
Surf the internet 2 6 At work
Write a letter or anything else 7 1
Fill in official forms 2 3 3 An office
Read newspapers mainstream, e.g. Cape Argus, Die Burger) 6 1 1 Family, at work
Read tabloids, e.g. Die Son or Voice 4 4 One respondent voices disapproval of tabloids
Read magazines 5 3 At work, family, taxi, bus
Listen to radio 7 1 Taxi, car
Listen to cassettes/CDs/mp3 players/Watch DVDs 5 1 2 Taxi, car, friends or family
Use a personal computer 3 5 At work
Watch educational programmes 5 3 Local clinic, friends, family
Read a book 7 1 Taxi, bus
Watch recreational programmes 4 4 Local clinic, when visiting someone
Watch news in English on TV 7 1 Friends, where we are
Watch news in Afrikaans on TV 6 1 1 Where we are
Watch news in Xhosa on TV 8
Watch news in Zulu on TV 8

Kinds of reading material found in the home

In terms of print literacy, weekly community newspapers and tabloids were found in the homes of most respondents (see Table 6 below). This is not surprising, as these are either freely available or very cheap, and thus suits the pockets of all the respondents. More revealing however, is the resourcefulness of many of the respondents in accessing the more expensive and more highly regarded mainstream newspapers. There appears to be some correlation between level of education and number of books found in a particular household (this is achieved by comparing individual households, not reflected in these tables). The household with the highest average level of education is the one that produced the response (from PBKM 1) that they have “much, much more than 25 books”, and the household with one of the lowest average levels of education is included amongst those that have less than 25 books.

However, one household with members having a fairly low average level of education bucks this trend by also having more than 25 books. This particular respondent (Yasmeena) is known by at least one other respondent, and the latter refers to the former as a ‘bookworm’. Unfortunately, it would appear that the love of reading is not necessarily always successfully transferred from mother to child. When one compares Yasmeena with Anthea, it becomes clear that they have adopted different strategies in terms of socialising their children into literacy, as Anthea’s Grade R child could read at a very early age, and Yasmeena’s Grade R child is repeating Grade R, and is only now learning to read. There is certainly a stark contrast between the households of Anthea and Sharon. In terms of education levels achieved, these two households are on opposite ends of the scale, with PBKM1’s members at the upper end, and Sharon’s members at the lower end. In terms of available reading materials, the household of Anthea has a great quantity and a wide variety, while that of Sharon has less than 25 books available (indeed, when I took an inventory, the respondent could only produce a few magazines: even the family Bible is kept in the father’s car, where he likes to read it). It is a poignant irony that these two families live in the same street a few doors away from each other, yet the one has a Grade R child who could read before entering Grade R, while the other has a child in Grade 5 who is still unable to read or write. Only two households have an encyclopaedia, and predictably the household with the highest average level of education is one of them. Religious texts appear to play a very large role in all the households, with all having either a Bible or a Quran. One household has five Bibles, and one household has both a Bible and a Quran, indicating that there are Muslim and Christian family members living under one roof. It is possible that this is a contributing factor to the high degree of moralising apparent within these households, and these attitudes and values can sometimes have the effect of members of this community closing themselves off to potentially valuable digital resources like MXit and print resources like the tabloids.

Table 6. Kinds of reading material found in the home
Item Number Type Comment
Daily newspaper (mainstream)
4 Argus, Burger
Tabloids (Die Son/Voice)
6 Son, Voice
Weekly community newspapers
7 Athlone News, People’s Post, Plainsman
More than 25 books
2 One household has “much, much more” than 25 books
An encyclopaedia
5 One household has at least 5 Bibles, One household reports Bible in car (not home)
4 At least one home had both a Quran and a Bible
A dictionary 6
Other 4 Text Books, Bedtime stories, Library books, Magazines One household had only magazines in the home

Frequency of assistance with reading and writing at home

The next question deals with literacy mediation at home. As Banda (2003: 118) states, and as has been corroborated by this study, in South Africa, and certainly amongst the respondents in this study, most reading and writing is in English, which is a second language to most South Africans. What stands out in this study is the high degree of mediation required for sms reading and writing, as reflected in Table 7. This can be attributed to the fact that the older generation continuously have to play catch up to the youth, who take to the shorthand form of writing with aplomb, but which the older members of the family often struggle to comprehend. There is also much mediation in terms of reading instructions, whether on how to use new technology or how to do an assignment, but one would imagine that this phenomenon can be found in mainstream homes as well. What is particularly of interest is the assistance required for reading magazines, tabloids, mainstream newspaper articles, books for pleasure, and schoolbooks.

Table 7. Frequency of assistance with reading and writing at home
Most of the time/some of the time Only now and then/hardly at all Comments
Reading information from government departments, businesses, or other institutions 1 8 One respondent reported that no assistance is needed
Filling in forms such as job applications
2 6
Filling in forms such as bank deposit slips
1 7 One respondent reported Grandma only needing assistance when spectacles missing
Writing notes to friends and family 2 6
Writing sms messages
7 1 One respondent reported the older generation needs assistance
Writing job application letters
2 6
Reading instructions, such as on how to do an assignment 5 3
Reading instructions, e.g. on how to use a TV or cellphone 4 4
Reading magazines
6 2 One respondent reported assisting the preschool child
Reading newspaper articles (mainstream) 7 1 One respondent reported assisting the preschool child
Reading newspaper articles (tabloids) 5 3
Reading books for pleasure/relaxation 6 2 One respondent reported assisting the preschool child
Reading schoolbooks
6 2 One respondent reported assisting the preschool child

Frequency of assisting the preschool child at home with reading and writing

From the responses reflected in Table 8 it is clear that much assistance is being rendered to the preschool child in all the households, and from a range of mediators, including non-family members.

Table 8. Frequency of assisting the preschool child at home with reading and writing
Preschool child assisted by/Voorskoolse kind bygestaan deur Most of the time/some of the time Only now and then/hardly at all Comment
Father/Mother/Gaurdian 8 1 respondent lists both mother and father as literacy mediators, 3 respondents clearly indicate mother as the only literacy mediator
Brother(s)/Sister(s) 4 4
Friend(s) 1 7
Teacher(s) 4 4
Other 1 (Aunts, grandparents) 7

Highest level of education of members of household

Table 9 confirms Willenberg’s (2008) findings in respect of the level of education of Manenberg residents. The majority of adult members of respondents’ households have attended but not completed high school. However, four of the respondents themselves have completed high school, and one respondent (Pbkm1) has acquired a College education. This latter respondent’s household is exceptional in having 4 members who hold degrees (all teaching).

Table 9. Highest level of education of members of household
Member of household Level of education
Grade R Grade 4 or lower Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12 Tertiary
Respondent 1 1 1 4 1 (College)
Grandma 1 1 1
Grandpa 2
Mom 2 1 1
Dad 2 1 1
Aunt 2 1 (Degree)
Uncle 3 1 (Degree)
Brother (age)
Sister (age) 2 1 (Degree)
Child1 (age) 2 2 2 1
Child 2 (age) 1 2 1
Child 3 (age) 1 1
Child 4(age) 1
Niece 1
Nephew 1 (Degree)
Spouse 1 1 1

Ability to read and write of members of household above 7 years of age

One respondents reports that not all members of their households above the age of seven years of age can read (see Table 10 below), and only one respondent (Anthea) reports that her Grade R child could read before entering Grade R.

Table 10. Ability to read and write of members of household above 7 years of age
Yes No
7 1

Language/s spoken to children and preferred medium of instruction at school

As shown in the next chapter, parental ethnotheories have a direct bearing on choices parents make with respect to which language or languages they decide to expose their children to. Whilst all of the respondents were brought up in Afrikaans speaking homes, they have made different choices for their children. As shown in Table 11, only two respondents are bringing up their children with Cape Afrikaans only, while two are bringing up their children with English and Afrikaans. Half the respondents are bringing up their children with English only. One respondent (Evelyn) initially reported that she is bringing her Grade R child up in Standard Afrikaans and Xhosa, but when questioned, she explained that that is what the child is being taught at school upon her insistence, and that she is speaking both English and Afrikaans to her child at home. These responses serve to confirm the importance attached to English within this community, and this finding is repeated in the next section (Table 12), where the majority of respondents report a preference for English as the medium of instruction once their child enters school.

Table 11. Language with which the preschool child is mainly being brought up
Afrikaans (Standard) 0
English 4
Kaapse Afrikaans 2
English and Afrikaans (Kaaps) 2
Xhosa 0
Zulu 0
Sotho 0
Other 0

One respondent reported a wish for her child to receive instruction both in English and in formal (standard) Afrikaans, which explains the apparent anomaly in terms of the number of responses in the table below.

Table 12. Language preferred as the medium of instruction when the preschool child enters Grade 1
Afrikaans (Standard) 3
English 6
Kaapse Afrikaans

Kinds of reading material brought into the home

Nichols (2008: 3) states that resources ranging from advice to practical assistance and material goods can be accessed via social networks, and that these “can make a difference to families’ positioning in relation to their children’s learning and education.” Social networks are potentially of particular importance to families living in communities such as Manenberg, where the struggle to make ends meet is a daily battle, and money is not often spent on mainstream newspapers, glossy magazines, and novels, which in their context might well be deemed to be luxury items. Table 13 shows how families are able to access a variety of reading materials via their social networks, with a variety of household members and non-family members bringing a range of reading materials into the home.

Table 13. Kinds of reading material brought into the home
Person bringing reading material into the home Kind of reading material
Children (of household) Library books, science books, books and storybooks from school, Afrikaans reading matter (not specified)
Grandmother Newspapers, magazines
Niece Books from school
Husband/ Grade R child’s dad Children’s storybooks, tabloids, novels, magazines, daily newspaper, community newspaper, church pamphlets, communication from school
Sister Novels, magazines
Uncle Daily newspapers, tabloids (Daily Voice), magazines
Family members Church pamphlets and pew leaflets
Respondent (TF3) Reading books from library
Neighbour Local (community) newspaper, magazines
Aunt Magazines
Friend Religious readings, community newspapers (People’s Post)


The above survey shows a range of literacy practices engaged in by the members of the various households, informed by their respective ethnotheories surrounding inter alia language, literacy, and schooling. In terms of language, Cape Afrikaans clearly plays a major role in the lives of the respondents: 4 of 8 choose it as language of first choice in the home, and 3 of 8 choose it in combination with English as language of first choice, thus 7 of 8 respondents speak a form of Cape Afrikaans daily in their homes. Despite this, English is clearly seen as an instrument of socio-spatial mobility in this impoverished community (for a similar finding in a similar community see Dyers, 2007; Dyers, 2008). This is reflected in the marked preference for reading and writing in English, the choice of speaking Cape Afrikaans only to children being made in only 2 of the 8 households, as opposed to those choosing English only (4 households) or a combination of English and Afrikaans (2 households). Without exception, all respondents regularly watch the news in English on TV. An interesting finding is that of the refusal of at least one of the respondents to read the tabloids, so that more claim to read the mainstream newspapers rather than the tabloids, even though the tabloids are more readily available to them, if only because of the low cost of tabloids. From the inventory of print media, more households were found to have in their possession free community newspapers (7 households) than tabloids (6 households) or mainstream newspapers (4 households). Those who do not have the mainstream newspapers in their possession but still claim to read them make use of their social networks to access the newspapers. In terms of digital literacies, more respondents engage in sms message reading and writing than those who use social networking platforms like MXit and Facebook, very few use a personal computer or surf the internet, and not one uses the equally accessible social networking platform Ou Toilet. The low numbers using a personal computer or surfing the internet is understandable against the backdrop of the community’s economic impoverishment, but the total refusal to entertain an application like Ou Toilet (even though the use of this particular platform is now moot following its being blocked by the major South African cellular service providers (cf, 2010)) needs to be examined more closely. Consider the fact that religious texts appear to play a large role in all the households, yet in one instance, the Bible could not be found in the home, but in the father’s car. Consider also the high degree of moralising displayed by many of the respondents in justifying either their reluctance or refusal to use the cheaper social networking platforms. A similar negative attitude was displayed by at least one respondent towards the tabloids. This moralising must be seen in the context of a vulnerable community needing to defend itself against crime, prying neighbours, and the disparaging glare of an uncomplimentary public seen through the eyes of the media. The members of this community, already living cheek by jowl with their privacy severely compromised both inside the home and within the neighbourhood, thus have to regulate that privacy and not allow the media or technology to encroach on that privacy. However, these same attitudes and values ironically have the effect of members of this community deliberately not accessing potentially valuable digital resources like MXit and print resources like the tabloids.

Chapter 6. Ethnotheories of multilingualism, space, and literacy

The previous chapter’s survey shows diverse literacy practices being engaged in by the members of the various participating households. What lies behind the choices made by these families? What informs the choices they make? Why the universal reference to ‘Kitchen Afrikaans’, when referring to Cape Afrikaans, the preferred language of communication in the majority of the homes? Again, given this preference, why is English favoured as the language of reading and writing in the majority of the participating households? A case can be made for the argument that the ethnotheories of the participants lie at the root of the choices they make, that these ethnotheories shape their beliefs and attitudes towards a range of issues, and that these in turn determine (consciously or unconsciously) what strategies they adopt in the literacy socialisation of their children.

A belief that one’s elders have the right to make decisions about how one raises one’s children can have the effect of a conscious choice being made in terms of what language one speaks to one’s children. Take the case of Target Family 5 (TF5): A family of four – the parents (Sharon and David) and a son (David) aged twelve in Grade five, and a daughter (Charise) aged seven in Grade one (she was still in Grade R when I began working with the family). Both parents have Cape Afrikaans as their first language. The family lives in the backyard of the home of the father’s mom and step father. While the backyard has been converted into rather well appointed living quarters complete with running water and electricity, the living area is extremely cramped, with the children sleeping on a mattress at the foot end of the parents’ bed. Both parents attended Afrikaans medium primary schools, both completed Grade 7, and both did not attend high school. Despite this the father has managed to obtain employment as a relatively well paid artisan (he is a welder), and he even runs a sideline business as a money lender. The mother assists the father in the running of the business, which is conducted from home. I visited this family on several occasions over a period of approximately twenty months, but never met the father, who was always at work or on some errand. The mother (TF5M: Sharon) agreed to be interviewed, and also allowed me to collect some literacy artefacts. She preferred to be interviewed in Afrikaans, and readily admitted that her English “was not so good”:

Extract 1. (T = Turn)

[T 4-6]: I prefer the Afrikaans [laughs]… because I’m not so good in my English.
(For a full transcript of the interview in Afrikaans with translation please see Appendix B.)
Yet when asked which language was spoken to the children, I received the following response (note, where English words or phrases are used in the original, these are rendered in italics in the translation):

Extract 2.

T21 Yes we speak English to them yes
T45 … because the grandmother, the grandmother and the grandfather speak English
T65 We decided to speak English because the grandfather speaks English and the grandfather wanted us to speak English to them. That’s why because when they come inside, and there the grandfather always told them they must speak English they mustn’t speak Afrikaans [said with a smile]

Clearly the grandparents of these children have a huge impact on their lives, as the parents have made a fundamentally important decision regarding their upbringing based on the wishes of the grandparents. Once this decision had been made, other areas of their lives were bound to be affected, including the crucial decision regarding schooling. Both children have been enrolled in an English medium school, so far with disastrous consequences for the older sibling, who is still in Grade five at the age of twelve, and who is unable to read or write. Both parents display an interest in their children’s education:

Interaction with teacher:
Extract 3.

T187 With her teacher I had a problem now at the moment because the teacher keeps hitting her… so Charise is all er like I asked her why does the teacher hit her then she said to me er, it’s because she gets up, and the teacher says to them maybe they must sit she’ll come to them herself but Charise is a hyperactive child, she can’t sit still
T189 That’s why. So I wrote a little letter to the teacher and the teacher said to me I’m threatening her. But I think she-she’s not there anymore, because I think she’s sickly also

Provision for higher education:
Extract 4.

T306 Ye-es, that’s my dreams for her [smiles], to also finish high school, matric-our dream i-my husband and my dream is, is very whatsitsname because we put erm, we’re trying now also to put money away one day for their studies and so
T310 Passed matric [laughs]
T312 Because my husband actually said my husband is a welder but my husband doesn’t actually want him to weld he must do something else
T314 My husband explains to him how welding is how you hurt yourself, how you mess up your body, my husband would like him to be something else one-one day

Turns 187-189 (extract 3) clearly show the mother Sharon’s engaging the school when it became apparent that the teacher was hitting their daughter, and turns 306 -314(extract 4) show that the parents are saving up in order to pay for the higher education of their children. Despite the good intentions and active involvement of these parents, their eldest child is clearly at risk of not completing his primary education, and without an intervention of some sort, it is highly unlikely that he will be able to obtain a higher qualification. While it is evident that of the two parents, the mother has most contact with the children, it would be simplistic to say that she is not equipped to assist her children to at least obtain a level of literacy which would aid in the transition to the school system, and thereafter to render such assistance as is required to assist the children in their ongoing apprenticeship into literacy. As mentioned earlier, literacy is not simply a skill set, a set of abilities involving reading and writing, rather it has to do with the culture of those who engage in literacy practices, and such culture is informed by ethnotheories. How do these ethnotheories inform people’s actions? Let us return to the survey of the previous chapter.

The household of TF5 was found to contain less than 25 books. There were no newspapers (although they do get the local tabloids from the children’s grandparents from time to time) or books of any kind: only a few magazines could be produced. There is a Bible, but it remains in the father’s car, because he likes to read it there. The point to be made here of course is that the children thus have no access to a potentially valuable resource. When asked whether she reads to her daughter, Sharon responded:

Extract 5.

T125 Yes I re-erm now and then, because last time I also read stories to her out of a b-erm whatsisname when the students were here also, their books
T127 but then she started to write in the books
T129 … but now and then then I read from the newspapers for her now when she asks me what is that what did happen/
T131 Maybe maybe erm she sees someone with a gun in the newspaper and so and, then she wants to know what has happened, now I must now read it for her

We know from the literature that bedtime story reading (cf. Brice Heath, 1982) is extremely important in contributing to children’s acquisition of literacy, but that this is mainly a middle class practice, and that families in non-mainstream (i.e. working class) communities often engage in very different literacy practices. The above excerpt shows that Sharon does not place a high premium on bedtime story reading, but that she does read to her child on the odd occasion. Reading a story out of a tabloid about someone with a gun can have the salutary effect of warning the child about the potential dangers lurking in this community with its multiple challenges of poverty, gangsterism, and substance abuse. For a child living in such an environment, knowledge gleaned from such literacy practices might very well mean the difference between life and death. With reference to the daughter writing in the books that the students had brought (this was part of a data gathering exercise in the first semester of 2009 involving third year UWC students from the Department of Linguistics), the mother appears to be unaware that for preliterate children, scribbling is a precursor to literacy. In a working class home such as this, books are often a scarce resource, and it is not unimaginable that a well meaning parent might want to preserve it by putting it out of the reach of the preliterate child, but this of course would inevitably result in the child yet again being deprived of a literacy resource. A further practice I found Sharon to be engaging in proved to be rather interesting indeed. When I asked about the record keeping of the transactions involving her husband’s business, she responded that her husband was the record keeper:

Extract 6.

T291…293 My husband… but I am only there now to get the money
(But when I pressed her on this issue, it turned out that she does indeed do record keeping as well):
T297 Yes yes. Yes I do that for him

As luck would have it, I happened to be there when one of their clients called, and I witnessed how she dealt with the client’s story about having lost the money she had loaned him earlier that day. She was very sympathetic, conferred with her husband (telephonically) about extending a further micro loan to the client, and then painstakingly recorded all the details of the transaction. Needless to say, the client did not get a free ride – he was held accountable for both amounts, and he had to sign for it and was given a receipt. A poignant irony here is that while this is clearly a frugal couple, able to save money to the point where they can even act as moneylenders, Sharon reports that, while her husband earns enough money, he is unable to secure a loan at the bank in order to buy a house they so dearly yearn for. While they can afford to buy a house in their price range, they do not appear to have access to resources that would enable them to negotiate the banking institution’s bureaucracy (Researcher fieldnotes).

Note in T293 (extract 6) how she claims to be “only there now to get the money”. However, what she was doing was far more sophisticated than that. She was operating both as a loans clerk and as a bookkeeper. She generously allowed me to take photographs (see below) of her record keeping system, and I was impressed with the amount of detail that she brought to bear on the exercise: There were receipt books (Figures 7 & 8), ledgers (Figures 9 & 10) with journal entries, and client details (Figure 11) complete with ID numbers, addresses, bank card, and bank account details.

Figure 7.

Figure 8.

Figure 9.

Figure 10.

Figure 11.

How then is it possible for such a resourceful woman to be struggling with assisting her children to acquire literacy? We need to look more closely at the literacy practices she engages in. She clearly engages in fairly sophisticated literacy practices, but it is not part of her local culture (her own or her household’s) to engage in those practices which are geared to apprentice a child into the type of literacy practices which would prepare the child for school readiness. Indeed, she reports that the child is hyperactive (extract 3, T187), unable to sit still and pay attention to the teacher’s instructions. We know from studies like that of Brice Heath’s (1982) study that a child to whom bedtime stories is read learns at a very young age to pay attention to the person reading the story, a most useful habit to learn before entering the school system.

From the above several themes generated by investigating parental ethnotheories have already become apparent; these include language choice, attitude to education and/or relationship with school/teacher, and literacy practices (and whether or not any of these aid the preschool child’s socialisation into literacy). To these can be added parental ethnotheories regarding safety, language, literacy, morality, space, and mobility. The rest of this chapter will be devoted to exploring three general themes, namely (1) multilingualism, (2) perceptions of space and place and (3) literacies; perceptions and practices, past and present. These themes will be explored with reference to all the participating families, but with specific attention being paid to the two families TF5 and PBKM1 who live in the same street a few doors from one another, yet whose children appear to be on such contrasting trajectories in terms of their paths to the acquisition of literacy.


All the respondents display an easy acceptance of multiple languages both locally and outside the local domain, as the following extracts demonstrate:

Extract 7.
TF2 (George and Veronique, Zebedia’s parents):
T33 George: … TODAY, it’s better to, to, for the children to speak good English
T35 and educational Afrikaans. Because, jobwise, erm, they, they gonna grow up and meet people who are from different cultures and those people mostly will be speaking English instead of Afrikaans//
T59; 61;63 George:… that’s why I’m saying the…formal Afrikaans…and what she’s learning now’s two, two different things [i.e. Cape Afrikaans and standard Afrikaans], so… she’ll need to, to learn that when she gets… to school… but it’s also important that… she learns it because, we live in Manenberg

Extract 8.
TF4 (Malia and Tahir, Moegsien’s parents):

T145 Malia: it doesn’t matter [which language he studies in]
T146 Tahir: After all one day they will have to more one day more, try and speak many languages

Extract 9.
PBKM1 (Anthea, Jade’s mother):

T279 English and Afrikaans I speak both, I find it important that at a young age they, I don’t want them to be lost when they somewhere and someone’s speaking Afrikaans

Extract 10.
PBKM3 (Carmelita, Job’s mother):

225…they must basically be able to speak three languages
227 [English, Afrikaans, and] Xhosa. Because at the schools there are many Xhosa children now and if they can understand them then they can make friends

The parents indicate the usefulness of their children learning multiple languages. This ranges from enhancing their children’s ability to make friends with Xhosa speaking children (Carmelita, extract 10, T227), to the importance attached to English as a means of mobility (George, extract 7, T35). However, both the local and standard varieties of Afrikaans remain important for children to learn (George, extract 7, T35, 63; Anthea, extract 9, T279). The standard variety is seen as important for school purposes, and the local variety is deemed to be important for the children in order to facilitate their interactions with others within Manenberg.
The parents display an awareness of polycentricity and of interactional regimes related to the use of various languages and varieties of language (cf. Bloomaert, Collins, and Slembrouck, 2005b):

Extract 11.
Malia and Tahir (TF4):
127 Malia: Pure Afrikaans//[laughs]
128 Tahir: Pure Afrikaans… (?) dad and them say this is Kitchen language that we speak

Extract 12.
Anthea (PBKM1)

263 ag, I can speak any Afrikaans it depends on I guess it’s with the hotel as well we had to learn, to speak, suiwer Afrikaans you know
265 erm then when I’m here around I can speak kombuis Afrikaans

Extract 13.
Carmelita (PBKM3):
[in response to the question: Why do people call it pure Afrikaans?]

217 Because it is pure and this is a slang [indicates what she is speaking]… [laughs]… the Cape slang
[In response to question concerning which variety of Afrikaans she wants her children to speak]
329 I’d like them [i.e. the children]to speak the suiwer one, for them to understand.
331… the question papers
333 The question papers are in pure Afrikaans. That is basically what many struggle with

Extract 14.
Carmelita would also like her children to speak “normal English…or higher” (T335):

T337 Like, you know [raises both palms] the white English.
T341 Cos on, at college you’ll get bilingual people and different Englishes and different Afrikaanses…

Extract 15.

T544 … you find that when when you speak English to someone in Manenberg, it’s like you, command that respect, because that’s what they give you, they give you that, you know not the English like, erm, the ‘flat’ [shows quote signs] English like they would say//
T546 //die plat Engels but I’m saying like the the the, the larnie [colloquial: high class/ high brow] you know//
T548 //like rah rah rah [exaggerated rolled ‘r’] English [R laughs], erm, people often tell me that I speak the rah rah rah

Blommaert, Collins, and Slembrouck (2005b: 211-212) argue that, at the level of a neighbourhood, polycentricity

entails hybridity and multiplicity at the level of centers, involving spaces or places that allow one or more centering forces…because spaces and places are typically multifunctional …[and that] multifunctionality is heightened by ethnic diversity…The connection between centres and interactional regimes is an aspect of the production of space and of the theorising of power therein…Each centre is characterised by at least one interactional regime

The primary schools in Manenberg can be regarded as centres, and they are dominated either by standard English or Afrikaans (or both). For this reason parents want their children to learn the “white” or “rah rah” English and the “pure” Afrikaans. In so doing, parents show that they are aware of the multiple norms and varieties of language (e.g. Carmelita, T337), the power relations within which they fit, and how the various varieties and norms are allocated institutionally and locally. There is clearly a nomenclature for the various varieties, as is evidenced by the use of terms such as ‘Kitchen’ Afrikaans or ‘rah rah’ English. There are also different “orders of indexicality” (ibid. 207) that are imposed on the users of these varieties, depending on which centre holds sway in the particular space they find themselves in. In the classroom, ‘proper’ Afrikaans or ‘rah rah’ English would have the greatest currency. However the playground, street, or the local shop on the corner would necessitate the use of ‘Kitchen’ Afrikaans or maybe even ‘flat’ English. In Manenberg, the school playground is also an area where a knowledge of Xhosa would be beneficial to a child, yet Xhosa has no currency in the classroom.

Parents distinguish between proposer learning and just picking up fragments:

Extract 16.
Yasmeena (TF3):

T112 No but you [i.e. Natheem] catch on, you catch on the English
T114 ask the dad there are some days that he just says the English words like that

Extract 17.

T233 They are learning like…he can… some of the months of the year he can say in Xhosa … but not everything

A distinction can be made between the way that Yasmeena and Carmelita describe their childrens’ language learning, and George’s (extract 7, T63) insistence that his child has to learn the ‘formal’ Afrikaans in school. Despite the abovementioned awareness of polycentricity and interactional regimes, it does not seem as if language itself is seen as a ‘problem’:

Extract 18.
TF4 (Malia and Tahir):
T130 Tahir: Hu-uh [no] the feeling is indeed-everything live together with it go on with it. Just talk
T132 Malia: it’s still the same language

The fact that standard Afrikaans has greater status than the local ‘kitchen’ variety does not prevent people from remaining proud of their language:

Extract 19.
TF3 (Yasmeena):

T134 Very proud it’s [i.e. Cape Afrikaans] my mother tongue [leans forward and laughs]

Parents see language as an affordance of a specific type, a resource to be accessed when filling in a form at the bank, going for a job interview, applying for a bursary, etc., as is evidenced in the following extracts:

Extract 20.

T37 because English is an international language…so erm, it would be better for them to understand and communicate with people better in English… you know because very seldom they most probably gonna…speak…to people in Afrikaans… job interviews most, most things that you do nowadays, you know, the- for even if forms for the bank you want to fill in then it’s.. gonna be in English and if they… are not … good in English … I don’t think they’ll…go very far

Extract 21.

T151 and I said daddy I wanna go to another school, my daddy said Andrea, you know we can’t afford that I said daddy but I wanna go to another school, so I went to Cape Town High, got forms…my mom qualifies for a bursary because I was erm, my mom got …legal guardianship of me.
T161 … my best friend…around the corner, her mom and dad got her into Cape Town High and then she told me about the bursary that they have available there…

Space: Local space – perception and mobility

Extracts 20 and 21 also speak to issues of space and mobility. Note how George (extract 20, T37) maintains that English is an international language. He compares it to Afrikaans and asserts that English has the greater potency for purposes of job acquisition or indeed, mobility: English will allow one “to go far” both literally and figuratively. The belief exists therefore that a way to transcend the local, to cross beyond the borders of Manenberg and to approach the centre, is to acquire English. Afrikaans is not perceived as providing the same affordance in terms of mobility. In Anthea’s case (extract 21 above), language is seen to be central as a resource to be tapped into, for instance in order to fill in forms which result in a bursary being granted, which in turn allow the young Anthea in the early 1990s to physically transcend the borders of Manenberg. In this example Anthea manages in this way to attend a school with markedly greater resources than township schools, and one that is untouched by the burning issues of the day troubling those who are forced to attend township schools, from lack of resources to teacher strikes.

Nichols (2008: 3) states that “[r]esources used by families to support children’s literacy are located in geographic space”. E.g. the library in Manenberg is located in Zone 3, a highly contested space. Social networks also offer potential access to resources. Anthea’s parents were divorced, both earned working class wages, and they could not afford to send her to a school like Cape Town High School, which, having been established in 1860, is one of the oldest schools in the country. However, according to Nichols (ibid.) it has been shown “that social networks can make a difference to families’ positioning in relation to their children’s learning and education”. Middle class parents are often able to tap into “old boy” networks in order to arrange for their children to participate in exchange programmes involving prestigious schools in Europe or elsewhere, normally in the west. They are also often able to use such networks to pave the way for their children to enjoy a post matriculation gap year with guaranteed accommodation and vacation jobs in Europe or North America. Working class parents often have more pressing concerns. In Anthea’s case, her parents needed to get her into another school, as the local school was bogged down by a strike, and with no teaching being done, Anthea was in danger of losing an entire school year. However, knowledge about a bursary scheme that would enable her to attend Cape Town High School was passed on to her by a friend (extract 21, T161), and Anthea’s father’s boss was happy to stand surety for any shortfall in the fees. By tapping into her own and her parents’ social networks, Anthea was able to obtain a high school education that would otherwise have been completely out of her reach.

To return to the issue of local resources: one such resource is the library. The majority of the respondents do not appear to view the library as a safe resource. Even an informant like Boeta D, a safety officer at Proudly Manenberg, appears to be ambivalent in this regard:

Extract 22.
Boeta D:

T214 It’s s-safe at the library because I stay there I know, what’s happening there. It’s-the only thing is, the, the-the library people comes, say 9 0’clock, eight-say eight o’clock they come in, they open up ‘leven o’clock, and the people is standing outside waiting for them to open. That is-that is the danger part because they standing with the books…and today, they even sell, books, the gangsters this laaties [colloquial term for youngster/whipper snapper]

By his own account, the library is safe, but there is an element of danger. This is directly related to the fact that the library is located in Zone 3, where gang the greatest number of gangs appear to have staked a claim, and consequently gang turf is highly contested. As mentioned in Chapter 4, the library has the appearance of a building under siege, it is barricaded, bullet proof windows have been installed, and these have holes in them.

Manenberg library is also close to Pecos (pronounced “Pickers” by the residents) Walk, and people from Tambo Village often walk past the library to get to Pecos Walk. The following extract is self explanatory:

Extract 23.
Boeta D:

T238 Ja, some people don’t like the area but, if you walk there you can see it’s a quiet area. And what’s happening now, first we didn’t have the black people walking up and down there, now they walking up and down there, maybe the people is afraid for that also. They coming to buy their, Tik, here, in erm, C! [Xhosa alveo-dental click indicating irritation – normally represented as Tsk!] what is ‘is road’s name? Er Pickers, they call it the Pickers Mall, it’s not the Pickers Walk it’s the Pickers Mall [R laughs], because if you go in the night there, it’s just like that [uses right forearm and hand to indicate rapid movement] that’s why the police is a lot there I call the police and tell them, hallo, things is not right there, check up.

So not only is there a lot of drug related gang activity taking place in Zone 3 in a road like storms River Way which is around the corner from the library, the same type of activity is happening close by in Pecos Walk (called ‘Picker’s Mall by the residents) in the adjacent Zone 2. The result is that when gang war breaks out, Manenberg library is literally in the cross fire. Some parents respond by flatly refusing to send their children to Manenberg library:
Extract 24.

T675 [the library is] right in the middle of a gangster ridden area
T678 number two, I won’t let Jade walk down to the library, I won’t let Jade go to the library…

Extract 25.

T286: I knew about the library but I don’t go there…because at the moment the library is a dangerous area…in Manenberg.

One mother avoids having to negotiate different gang turfs by taking the taxi to the library:

Extract 26.
T149 Yes. [nods]… we take the taxi down [to the library]
T153 Yes to get there safely

Thus, the respondents appear to be ambivalent about the library. As shown above, some use the facility, others do not, for fear of their children’s safety. Some also feel that the library does not meet up to expectations:

Extract 27.

T671 …the importance of a lib’ry card, the importance of a proper library in the area, erm, Manenberg, has a library that’s not a library either, refuse to call it a library right now
T673 Until they actually update their resources in that library, I see books there that …I saw when I was at primary school, you know, what is it to, to get some activities happening in that library, get the kids off the street, get them reading, you know
709 Yes, so now we have, erm a l- a little readathon, thing going that the government is running so now they forced to do something within the library, but how much is it advertised? I don’t see any ad-ad-advertising happening here posters going around saying, that this activity is happening at your local library…nothing

Extract 28.
158C:… There are [books]… but there aren’t enough. There are never enough books to read. Especially at the children[‘s section]
Carmelita’s statement about the inadequate number of books available in the library speaks to the scarcity of books (and the scarcity of resources in general) experienced by most households in Manenberg. In other words, most residents of Manenberg have little other means of acquiring books (see the inventory in Chapter 5 showing only two out of 9 households having more than 25 books), and if there are not enough books in the library, this has a major impact on those who do use the library’s services.
When considering morality within the local space, it would be useful to take cognizance of Salo’s (2004) argument that ordentlikheid (decency/respectability) is integral to the production of personhood in Manenberg in that it embodies values related to the local moral economy. In a separate study conducted in The Park, a shantytown on the outskirts of Cape Town, Ross (2010: 39) maintains that “ordentlikheid manifests as reliability in the conduct of social relations …[having] to do with approved forms of sociality”. Ross (ibid., 42) states that ordentlikheid is described by residents as an aspiration and a “disposition inculcated by the environment”, so that negative environmental factors could lead to the loss of ordentlikheid. In this way some women who engage in sexual liaisons frowned on by the community and men who get caught up in gang activity come to be considered rou (raw, uncouth, anti-social). While the respondents did not use the term ordentlik unprompted, more than one used the term deurmekaar when referring to something or someone considered not to be ordentlik. The term deurmekaar literally means confused, but it can also mean wild, disorderly, uncouth, anti-social, indecent, i.e. the opposite of ordentlik, and similar to rou.

In extract 28 below, the term deurmekaar is used to describe the respondent’s dogs as behaving in a wild manner. Indeed, the dogs are referred to as wolves, emphasizing that they are not behaving in a domesticated manner.

Extract 28.

T215 Die wolwe op o’se jaa’d, gaan ‘n bietjie.. deu’mekaar

In the following extract, Sharon chooses to use the term deurmekaar in order to describe behavior considered to be the antithesis of ordentlikheid:

Extract 29.
[in response to the question]: is’it ordentlike mense wat hie’ bly in’ie Manenberg?

T411 Som is deu’mekaa’

The following extract shows more clearly that deurmekaarheid [the local variation of the term is deurmekaargeid] can be construed as behaviour opposite to that of ordentlikheid:

Extract 30.

T77 Carmelita: Die slegte is die gangsterism. En die deurmekaargeid. Maar daar is goeie punte.
T78 Researcher: Verduidelik ‘n bietjie van die “deurmekaargeid”.
T79 Carmelita: Is diè wat so op die hoeke staan. Die vandalism by die skole. Die inbriek by die skole.

Concerns with needing to be perceived as an ordentlike (decent) person impacts on how people wish to present themselves to the outside world, both in where they live physically, and also in how they behave. We shall see later how this even impacts on the literacy practices of some of the respondents. We shall also return to the issue of gangsterism and gang members, as this issue is rather more complex than appears to be the case when considering the above extract. Another interesting point is that there does not appear to be a distinction between the backyard dwellers and those living in brick houses, although backyard dwellers would clearly prefer to live in brick houses.

Extract 31.
T509 … but also I feel at home here, your neighbours are here this is where grew up this is this is what you know, yes Mishay would love a house of her own, yes, erm Ingrid would love a house of her own, but with today’s expenses as well, you can’t afford a house of your own, unfortunately

T536 …this is our property, then she’s got a Wendy house there and, they residents of Manenberg, you know, those are also children of residents of Manenberg that’s waiting for homes

Extract 32.

T225 I don’t think differently of [people who stay in a Wendy house] because I used to stay in Manenberg but we used to stay inside the house.
T229 And I mean there’s no difference…because we’re all people, we all do the same thing: we clean our place, we must make food, do the washing, it’s just for them it’s a bit inconvenient for them sometimes because they don’t have what we have inside the house. Like maybe a bathroom, they don’t have a bathroom. And…because I used to stay in a wendy house before I stayed in the house. I stayed at my aunt’s house…at my aunt’s place. I had my own wendy house, that was before I got married.
T231 Now the first one…and for me it’s very nice to stay in a wendy house. It’s just that sometimes…we had electricity we had water it just that we didn’t have the toilet.

Extract 33.

247C: [shakes her head] not much is still spoken about those who live in the Wendy houses because nearly every house has a Wendy house in its yard

In some cases, there is some friction between backyard dwellers in the courts, who are necessarily in the backyard of an apartment on the groundfloor, and those living upstairs in the multi-storey courts, where space is already at a premium:

Extract 34.

T351 because…they actually want their yard now maybe for hanging [i.e. washing]
T353 …or so now some people take away their…space again…

There are of course those who would like to move into a brick house:
Extract 35.

T381 Speople who are in the shacks are are are, how can I say, I think one doesn’t still stay nicely like that>
T383 you stay better, if you [have] your own [indicates house, gesturing with both hands], like always like here in this place it’s still cold always

T316 I would like one day to [come] out of THIS out of Manenberg out of THIS place out of this [shows dwelling she’s living in] house…into a real house

Extract 36.

T138: They feel it [i.e. living in a brick house] gives them some dignity, because at the moment that is something they lacking because they living in somebody else’s yard, and, they get evicted any time, they don’t have sanitation, and stuff like
While living in a brick house is seen as more dignified than living in a Wendy house or shack in someone’s backyard, people appear to be accepting of the imperatives that have forced some to resort to living in a backyard dwelling. Again, living with dignity, or living in an ordentlike manner, depends on one’s behaviour, regardless of whether or not one lives in a brick house:

Extract 37.
T215 … I think most [people who live in brick houses have dignity] but er, I don’t see like some of the people that live in the brickhouses, I don’t think that if you live in a brickhouse and, you not maintaining that place, or…gangsterism is taking place there, or, they selling drugs, and stuff like’at, erm, I don’t think they have any dignity, because, how can you be proud of your house, if, that is what you doing

On the question of living in Manenberg or moving, some respondents indicate that they would like to move out of Manenberg.

Extract 38.

T389 …not here actually …maybe like Kenilworth [smiling, said with a tone indicating high class] Cent-that posh (?) so (see also Sharon: extract 34, T316)

However, contrary to the presumption that might exist that most people living in Manenberg want to move elsewhere, it appears that many appear instead to be content with living in Manenberg, despite admitting to the various problems besetting Manenberg, like overcrowding, gang violence, etc.:
Extract 39.
T51 Ok, I would say I’m quite comfortable in Manenberg. Y’know people-I don’t think- I will, most likely move out of Manenberg unless I really have to
T143 … Yes, most of the people I would say, 95% of the people living in the shacks , want to stay in Manenberg, but, as we were told already unfortunately that is something that won’t happen, because just between this, that road – Swakop and Jordaan Street it was already 2700 shacks, and they only planning to build round about 750 units, so it won’t be possible to accommodate everybody there.
T193 Yes, I would love to stay in Manenberg. Because, according to me there’s nothing wrong with Manenberg. For me, ‘cause I grew up in Manenberg, so I wouldn’t mind raising my children here

Extract 40.
T505 … the thing is this is that …people can say what they want to about Manenberg
T507 but this is home. I lived in Mitchells Plein I I can’t

Extract 41.
Anthea (unless otherwise stated):

T554 No, I’m sure they, sure that they want, I mean everybody, every child wa-dreams of moving out, if they from an underprivileged area, everybody dreams of getting out
T555 Researcher: But you don’t seem to
T556 NO, no
T558 for me …I said if I should win the lotto I’m not gonna move out o’ Manenberg why must I

Extract 42.

T89 [I] will stay in Manenberg

Extract 43.
Researcher (R) and Togra (T):

T218 R: Would you one day want to live in Manenberg again?
T219 T: I would love to live in Manenberg but he won’t.
T220 R: He won’t…
T221 T: Because you see he’s from Woodstock, he’s from that area. He used to stay in Woodstock all his life.
T238 R: … If you uh could you would move back to Manenberg?
T239 T: In an instant.

The respondents all seem to feel that their own portion of Manenberg is safe. Danger is perceived to lie in outside threats, like predatory men who prey on children, or speeding traffic:
Extract 44.
T51 Ok, I would say I’m quite comfortable in Manenberg. Y’know people-I don’t think- I will, most likely move out of Manenberg unless I really have to
T55 … and this is like my comfort zone is Manenberg, because- and especially here, it’s central, there’s the transport, there’s schools nearby the clinic’s nearby, the [mobile] library’s just down the road for my kids and
T57 It’s all central so I would like to stay in Manenberg if I could
T63 Yes, I’m fine because here it’s, it’s very quiet, it’s, hardly…anything happens here
T63 in this portion of Manenberg, ja
Extract 45.
T91 [animated hand gestures as if to emphasise the point] Because where I am it is alright. There isn’t still breaking in. Stuff like that. It’s fine here.
T145[smiles] They are not this side by us [gesticulates] they are that side and that side. We are basically in the middle.
T147 By us there aren’t still gangsters

Extract 46.
T279 Yes like here it’s alright, but, because here it’s still not wild your child is safe this side still a bit but there on top by my mom I won’t still say it’s safe there for them, but here it’s alright

To return to the issue of gangsterism and gang members: The gangsters are not unknown, amorphous threats – the informants know the gangsters. The gangsters form part of the community; a gangster is someone’s child, someone’s brother, someone whom informants used to play with as children, someone who previously protected informants. Some gang members even work for the NGO Proudly Manenberg:

Extract 47.
Boeta D:

T124 because we [Proudly Manenberg Safety Sector] working on the streets, like environment, we working, Manenberg, there where the gang fights is… that’s he’s afraid. Most of the gangsters is with the environment. And we’ve-I’ve got six on my panel… six gangsters with er, safety… but they doing a t- a nice job…

Extract 48.

T756 You know what? Manenberg the area?
T759 is not as bad. There are certain element, of people, that makes it bad.
T761 … I mean here where we live, it’s quiet, you know erm, we have the occasional fight, where we all run out and, we have the occasional erm, police raid on a house where we all run out and go and do
T763 … but I still I believe there’s a heart, there’s a parent, a son, brother, a sister, you know a mother…there’s that human being that, wants to, change. You know, erm given a chance they can. So, for, for me I haven’t given up…
T765 completely on on on, on someone, erm, I believe that everybody has the c-has the ability to change erm, I won’t I won’t write Manenberg off, at all, I won’t write any, gangster ridden area off, because there is that ability to change. We … not working with machines we working with people that can change

Extract 49.

T129 Like, we, where I grew up there was gangsters but they were more, they’re human beings like us.
T131 And I used to play with the gangsters. We used to play soccer. We used to play cricket. I mean with the HL’s the Hard Livings like they say. I used to play with them when I grew up there. I played soccer I played cricket like a boy. I mean we were friends. Uhm. It was like they were protecting the area.

Gangsters are clearly perceived as forming part of the community of Manenberg, they are integral to the social fabric of which this community is constituted. The point is that they are not all that Manenberg is about, as the following participant states:

Extract 50.

T188 So, that is, I think it’s something positive because they can see e-whoever comes from outside comes inside can see ‘oh but there’s also talent in Manenberg’ not just erm, gangsterism and drugs. So I would say it’s something positive

With respect to the literacy practices of parents and their children, some parents read to their children, while others don’t. It is interesting to note that older siblings often act as role models for the younger ones, either by bringing home books to be read to them, or by reading to the younger ones:

Extract 51.

T594 Ach, erm I’ve been reading to Jade since before she was born

Extract 52.

63;65 Yes I read to them…[65] The books [they] bring home from school

Extract 53.
Yasmeena and Taswel

T93 Yasmeena: yes// she [i.e. Natheem’s sister] joins the lib’ry then she comes with the books then I read to them
T94 Taswel: she reads to him yes

The following mother claims to read to her Grade R child only now and then. Here it is interesting to see that the mother values reading stories from tabloids to the child that could serve as essential lessons for survival in dangerous situations:

Extract 54.

T125 Yes I re-erm now and then, because last time I also read stories to her out of a b-erm thingy when the students were here also, their books
T127 but then she started to write in the books
T131 Maybe maybe erm she sees someone with a gun in the newspaper and so and, then she wants to know what has happened, now I must now read it for her
T133 yes explain to her yes

This same mother also displays an interest in her child’s schooling, stating that she even wrote to her child’s teacher. However, that attempt at communicating with the teacher ultimately failed:

Extract 55.

189 That’s why. So I wrote a little letter to the teacher and the teacher said to me I’m threatening her. But I think she-she’s not there any more, because I think she’s sickly also

In the case of Sharon, despite her clear interest in her children’s schooling, she has an older (David, aged 12) child who can’t read even though he is already in Grade 5:

Extract 56.

T179 he [David] can’t actually read, and he also can’t write actually

In terms of scaffolding children’s emergent literacies, the current literacy practices of the participants range from low engagement, like mothers not reading much to their children, to extensive engagement, like Veronique constructing ‘connect the dots’ games for their children to trace words (field notes), and Evelyn overseeing her child’s games involving literacy, like getting her to make patterns and shapes, do writing and coloring, or reading to her (Evelyn’s diary). While it is apparent that all the respondents are aware of the importance of literacy, it would appear that the mothers who were involved in TIP’s photo story book exercise are becoming increasingly literate, and have developed a heightened awareness of the importance of literacy. They also appear to have been enabled to developed a discourse to talk about language, reading, and writing, as the following extracts show:

Extract 57:

T749 I would like to see [the photo book stories]…become like a virus…that’s a nice way of putting it, yah?
T751 and infect, every household to also want to, it’s a way to brag about your kids, man.
T753 I mean I got a opportunity to brag about my daughter dancing, you know, erm, and, if every parent could have that chance to brag about their kid in a book, and say, when they see that book on the shelf they’ll say that’s my ch- that’s my child. You know
T755 and just feel that pride that, we’ve achieved something, you know it’s a legacy that you leaving behind

Extract 58.

T303 I learnt how to type/write (?) a book for grade R students. Cos you can’t just write a book and expect a grade R to read it.
T 305 You have to write it in their language so they can understand the book…and you mustn’t make it colorful else they’ll look at the colors and they won’t read.
307 So it has to be a minimum of colors
T 309C: I’d like to see [the photo stroy book] on the bookracks. In the libraries, things like that.
T 311C: Because it’s good stuff for grade R pupils // cos it’s easy for them to read

Extract 59.

T296 Oh that was an experience and a half for me. It was exciting [laughs]
T318 For me it is more important, it is, yes it is. For me it is more important now to learn numeracy and literacy because in the story book I could see there is a lot of stuff you need to know. It’s not difficult stuff. It’s small things but it’s important things.
T320 I’ve learned a lot from the storybook. That I can tell you.
T323 More now. To me education was important at all times but now I can see it, it is more important now, for me it is
T325 Because of what I done with this storybook and stories I’ve heard, my experiences with the group that I had in our storybooks. We had a lot of discussions between us.
T341 Every night I must read the same one. Ek sê Ibtisaam by now you know all the words in that storybook I must get you a new one! [laughs with Researcher] No she want that same one. Ok I’ll get you a, I must ask teacher Coetzee for another storybook for you, nuh? And everytime I forget. [both laugh] But we read through the magazines we page through the magazines and she would ask me mummy what is that. And I would ask her now what is that red thing there [inscribes a circle in the air]. That’s strawberries mummy! Ek sê , ok, I would ask her a lot of things…colorful pictures. I would ask her now what is that. That’s a fruit. What kind of fruit is it? And what is that? And what color is this fruit? Uh even if we go to school in the mornings as we walk to get our lift, she would see the cars, she would count the cars in the morning. I would ask her what color was that Mini Cooper. How many Mini Coopers did you see for the morning when we get to school. Her teacher is tired of hearing Mini Coopers in the morning [R laughs]. Cos teacher must, every morning Teacher I saw four Mini Coopers. And teacher ask her now, how many? Four. What colors? And she would tell teacher the colors. That’s why her teacher also told me her work is improving.
T343 Her teacher said no she is progressing…now she came to me, why is Ibtisaam progressing so quickly? I said well it’s thanks to Brenda Sonn UWC!
T345 Because my storybook . It’s, my child must read, numeracy and literacy is important now teacher. She says: Oh [R laughs] Because you see my child learns and I’m also learning the importance of I because it gives that child more knowledge. To other people it’s You mad your child must count cars, it’s not that. I’ve learned the importance of literacy and numeracy.

Finally, their appears to be a strong belief in the school as being the most knowledgable about what is best when it comes to teaching children:

Extract 60.
Carmelita (unless otherwise stated):

T113 The teacher [him/her]self put him in the English class because he spoke English at the school
T114 Researcher: Did you yourself not decide?
T115 I enrolled him in the Afrikaans class.

Extract 61.
Malia (stating which class she will enrol her child in):

T38 I will still decide because-I think in an English, because actually the teacher speaks mostly English

Extract 62.

T39 … in school… erm, they speak proper Afrikaans in school, which, which the teacher will teach her, proper Afrikaans…

Comparison of the two sets of families

Both groups of caregivers (i.e. target families and photo story book families) displayed similarly accepting attitudes towards multiple languages, including the need to learn more than one language, especially those of importance in the Western Cape, namely English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. They also seem similarly aware of polycentricity in terms of the multiple norms and varieties of language, the institutional allocation of these norms and varieties, and where these can be acquired. In telling their stories, both sets of parents seem to be presenting images of negotiating the scarcity of resources. The one difference between these families that seems to stand out is the ability to capitalise on opportunities to acquire and also to manage scarce resources. The photo story book moms have for instance managed to seize an opportunity to participate in a skills enhancing programme (the photo story book project), which also resulted in their children producing a book about themselves. Another difference appears to be the extensiveness of the families’ respective social networks. Anthea (PBKM1) and Sharon (TF5) represent two extremes, where on the one hand Anthea’s social networks make her more mobile and able to provide a plethora of literacy materials to her child. On the other hand, Sharon’s limited social networks cause her to be constrained. In terms of mobility, she is physically unable to take her child to the library, and she does not have anyone whom she can rely on to safely take her child to the library. A final and crucial difference can be said to be the respective ethnotheories of the respondents, which impact on the literacy practices they engage in, resulting in their children either being oriented to literacy in ways that are conducive to a successful transition to the school system, or not.

Chapter 7. Literacy trajectories

At the southern tip of Manenberg, in an area referred to as Zone 1 by the NGO Proudly Manenberg, there is a teenage girl called Lucille. She lives there in a modest home with her mom, her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Her one little cousin who is in Grade R can already read and write. Like her little cousin, she had been a bright little girl who attended school in Manenberg, and was subsequently sent to Livingstone High School, which is situated in Claremont, about 10 kilometres west of Manenberg. Livingstone has a proud struggle history, having managed to resist being closed down after Claremont had been declared a white area during apartheid. Its doors remained open to those classified other than white, and even though it had been designated for use by children who had been classified coloured, it actively resisted this state of affairs, and managed to take in some children who had been classified Indian. The school adhered to a policy of non-racialism, and went beyond the apartheid syllabus to teach an alternative history in order to conscientise its pupils to the realities of the day. Values such as tolerance for all and a rejection of prejudice and discrimination on the basis of race, colour, or creed were the order of the day, and a strong emphasis was placed on developing independent and critical thinking in the children. While the school is better resourced than many township schools, it falls far short of the resources available to the top former ‘Model C’ (white) or private schools. Nevertheless, it has a proud sporting and academic history, and continues to produce many movers and shakers who currently shape the country both in the private and in the public spheres (for instance Ebrahim Rasool, former Premier of the Western Cape, having had his primary schooling in Manenberg, was also schooled at Livingstone High). Lucille did well at Livingstone, completing her Grade 12 year there as head girl, and she seems set to be the latest to be added to the list of high achieving Livingstone alumni, as she has just won a scholarship to continue her education at the University of Ankara, Turkey.

In the very same street, just a few houses down the road, there is a boy called David, who is about to enter his teenage years. He lives in a backyard dwelling together with his parents and his little sister who is in Grade 1. The entire backyard of his grandparents’ home had been converted into a living quarters by his dad. The home consists of a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom which leads off from a small lobby. David and his sister sleep on a mattress on the floor at the foot end of his parents’ bed. While their home has running water and electricity, it is not well insulated, and the cold and damp seeps in during the winter months and on cold nights, whatever the season. David’s parents are Afrikaans speaking, but at the insistence of his grandparents, his parents have attempted to rear him as an English speaking child, and he has spent his entire primary school career receiving instruction in English. David has not had a very successful time at school. He has repeated a few standards, and at the age of twelve, he is in Grade five, when he should be in Grade seven already. Worse, he is more than two years behind the rest of his peers, as he is still unable to read or write. The prognosis for David is unfortunately not so good, as it is clear that he will struggle to complete his primary schooling, and the chances of his completing high school are very slim indeed. Even though his parents have been setting aside a portion of their modest income with the view to funding his tertiary education, at this rate it can be said with certainty that he will never gain entry into a tertiary institution, and at this point he has no chance of obtaining a tertiary qualification.

The brief stories above tell the tale of two children who live in the same street under similar circumstances, yet they appear to be on opposite trajectories in terms of literacy and mobility. It is clear that Lucille has many more choices available to her than David. She is literally about to embark on a journey beyond our shores, and ceteris paribus will most likely return with a tertiary qualification leaving her well set for life as a productive citizen in post-apartheid South Africa. She will certainly have a range of choices regarding where to work and live. It is unlikely that David will travel beyond the borders of South Africa under the same conditions as Lucille is about to do. He may well get to travel, but chances are that it would be as a deck hand on a fishing vessel, or some such menial job that also has the benefit of allowing the worker to see the world to some degree. There seems to be only a small likelihood that David will continue with his schooling until the end of the secondary level, since he is already struggling to cope at the primary level, being unable to read or write, and he still has two years of primary schooling to go. It is more likely that David will add to the statistics of the high dropout rate of school goers in Manenberg, and the danger is that he will get caught up in the gang culture or the grip of substance abuse, as is the case with so many children who do not complete their schooling in this community. It would appear that, like so many of the poor in this country, David is destined to be “lock[ed]…into an underclass in post-apartheid South Africa” (Bray et al., 2010: 172), while the same does not hold true for Lucille.
Lucille’s little cousin Jade and David’s little sister Charise are both in Grade R, but already there are warning signs that they could end up following opposite paths in terms of their literacy trajectories. Jade is already able to read and write, whereas Charise is still in the process of learning to read and write. Jade has clearly been receiving quite a bit of input and assistance from her family in respect of her literacy acquisition, whereas this has not happened in Charise’s case. Certainly, Charise is displaying the characteristics of emergent literacy one would expect from a child her age, and engages with a great deal of enthusiasm in role playing games like ‘teacher-pupil’ with her friends. However, by her mother’s evidence as given in Chapter 5, she has not been sufficiently socialised into the classroom situation, as she does not yet comprehend the need to be quiet and pay attention to the teacher (Charise’s mother puts this down to hyperactivity), resulting in clashes with the teacher. Charise’s mother, in attempting to preserve a children’s book that had been donated to the family by UWC students during the data gathering exercise mentioned in chapter 3, has put the book out of harm’s way because Charise had started scribbling in it, but now of course the child has no access to it. This certainly does not bode well for Charise.

The above stories represent extreme cases in the continuum of examples of literacy trajectories available to children that one is likely to encounter in this community. Chapter 6 above shows how parental ethnotheories can and do influence parental practices, including literacy practices, and these ultimately determine how children are oriented to literacy and learning, and whether or not children are sufficiently prepared for transition to the school system.

As mentioned in Chapter 2, space in Manenberg presents as a chequered mosaic of physically unsafe places of institutions, of resources, corridors of semiotically linked landscapes, delimited areas of ganglands, and contested spaces of moral order. These all have a profound influence on how families go about their daily lives, and which resources they are able to or choose to access, and ultimately resulting in the diverse literacy trajectories of their children. Salo (2004: 116) states that for the ‘coloured’ population within this community, the core issues of respectability and the finer distinction of class and colour are defined and informed by shared values of religious observance, sobriety, literacy, sexual propriety, submission to authority, family loyalty, and modesty. As shown in chapters 4 and 5, concerns over questions of morality can sometimes cause parents to eschew potentially valuable resources, such as the cheap social network platforms like Mxit, which are freely available via the internet for downloading onto most cellular ‘phones.

Further, this study has shown that some families are able to successfully apprentice their children into literacy, while other families with similar socio-economic profiles are less successful. One way of explaining the reason for this disparity is by adopting the view of literacy as a social practice, i.e. as something people do. The ethnotheories of parents and caregivers in families who are successful in apprenticing their children into literacy informs inter alia their literacy practices, which tend to be conducive to assisting the preschool child’s acquisition of literacy. The ethnotheories of parents and caregivers in families who are less successful in apprenticing their children into literacy also inform their practices, including their literacy practices, but these are not necessarily conducive to assisting the preschool child’s acquisition of literacy. The data show that such parents and caregivers

• may not engage in bedtime story reading, but instead engage in oral storytelling,
• may place such value on books that the books are kept in a cupboard to prevent the preschool child from defacing or otherwise damaging it, thereby depriving the child of a valuable literacy resource, and they
• may hold the belief that teaching the child to read and write is the province of the proper authority – the school teacher.

The case of Charise is quite instructive in demonstrating that parental ethnotheories are crucial in determining what literacy practices parents engage in. Her father is deeply religious, and enjoys reading the Bible in his car, and that is where the Bible stays. For a family such as this with virtually print literacy materials in the home, the Bible is a potentially valuable literacy resources, but it never gets read in the home. Charise’s mother, though educated only to the level of Grade 7, is capable of engaging in the sophisticated practices of bookkeeping, accounting, and record keeping in running her husband’s business from home. She certainly is capable of rendering assistance to Charise in respect of her literacy acquisition, but this just does not form part the family’s culture, as informed by their ethnotheories. This situation was further complicated by the parents’ decision to raise the children as English speaking even though there is minimal support for English in the home. To compound matters even further, Charise and David’s parents appear to lack the necessary resources or social networks to facilitate their accessing ways in which to aid their children in their quest to facilitate their acquisition of literacy. Charise’s brother David was unable to make a successful transition to the school system, which system in turn failed him miserably, and at the age of twelve he is still unable to read or write. One would imagine that an intervention is needed here to avoid the possibility of Charise suffering the same fate as David.
Parents and caregivers who have participated in intervention programmes like those engaged in by projects like the Community Development through Early Learning (CDEL) project run by UWC and TIP appear to have developed a heightened awareness of the importance of literacy and the creation of a scaffolding environment to assist their children in the acquisition of literacy. Parents and caregivers who participated in this study but who have not participated in such programmes do not all appear to display this heightened awareness, and do not always engage in practices that are conducive to their children’s acquisition of literacy with the view to facilitating their children’s transition to the school system. Indeed, this thesis has shown that children from the very same community, living in the same street under similar socio-economic conditions, can be set on different paths in respect of their literacy trajectories. Consequently, some children appear more than likely to be on a trajectory to successfully complete their schooling and gain university entrance, providing them with an avenue to break out of the cycle of poverty, while others appear to be in danger of remaining trapped in the grips of poverty.

The respondents display an uncomplicated perception of multilingualism. Whereas many scholars might argue that it is preferable for a child to receive instruction in the home language (and without problematising the notion of home language here), we need to take into account that parents will do whatever they consider to be best for their children. If they feel that it is best for their children to receive instruction in the dominant language of the region, then that is what they will do. Standard English is by far the dominant language in South Africa, and standard Afrikaans still carries weight in many areas. For this reason, parents often send their children to schools in Manenberg where the medium of instruction is English, even though the home language is not English. There is also evidence of some Xhosa speaking parents sending their children to schools in Manenberg where the medium of instruction is Afrikaans. As for the acquisition of multiple languages, parents appear to view multilingualism as a major resource: It is seen as allowing their children to communicate with others both locally, given the changing demographics of Manenberg, and in the wider arena, potentially affording their children greater mobility. These are clearly not ignorant people wishing to give up their home language for English. They wish for their children to acquire English in addition to the language(s) spoken in the home and locally. The problem they face is how to access the resources to facilitate this acquisition.

Listening to people’s voices on the ground makes for unexpected findings. There are local patriotic narratives, narratives of pride in Cape Afrikaans, and narratives of emplacement or ‘replacement’, rather than displacement. An institutionalised literacy artefact, the waiting list, came up both during the initial data collection involving the larger group of families, and during the interaction with the group of respondents reported on in this thesis. The waiting list seems to have the effect of legitimising poverty: If one is on the waiting list, then one has the moral legitimacy to live in a shack or some or other backyard dwelling. Consequently, living in a shack in Manenberg is not frowned upon, unlike those who live in shacks in shantytowns elsewhere (cf. Ross, 2010).

In terms of territoriality, streets of townships like Manenberg were initially designed to facilitate policing, but these streets are also accessible to gang control. The situation in Manenberg is therefore much more complex than first imagined – various agents, the police, the gangs, NGOs like Proudly Manenberg, all are vying for control of the streets, and ordinary residents of Manenberg must negotiate all of these imperatives being brought to bear on what is clearly not innocuous, impartial space. Urban planning structures, whether those harking back to the apartheid milieu or those now being envisaged by successive administrations in the post apartheid era, have become fluid, compact, and subverted by phenomena like shack dwelling and gang wars. Apartheid envisaged structures have become less rigid, the very idea of space, new categories of how people may move around, of how they may live have come into being: one may live in a shack in Manenberg and still be a legitimate resident. Thus the issue of a lack of resources have redefined who can be in Manenberg.

It would seem that a body of preconceptions is being contradicted in Manenberg. Here people can live in a shack without being stigmatised, here one may be a gang member and still be regarded as a full member of society, worthy of protection from eviction (cf. Joseph, 2010). Here gang members may work in the Safety Sector of the NGO Proudly Manenberg, working to ensure the safety of other members of the community. Thus structures have become fluid, where normative structures would treat agents in a punitive manner, here the situation has become porous, agents are able to move between the ‘legal’ and what would be considered extra legal by many living beyond the borders of Manenberg.

What is striking is that people are truly marginalised through a lack of material resources. They have an appreciation of multilingualism, but no resources to appropriate languages. They have a well developed perception of their multilingual space, and an awareness of normative orders that place language varieties in space, e.g. ‘pure’ Afrikaans can be found in school. They regard all the languages as important, and emplace languages with indexicalities linked to them. While the level of education of many of the parents is fairly low, it is clear that these are not ignorant people – they are aware of what is going on around them. However, it is as if many of the parents come up against a brick wall all the time – they don’t have the paths to move on. Even when they have resources (e.g. Sharon and her husband who are saving up for their children’s education and want to buy a house but can’t get a loan), they appear not to have the resources to use the resources. However, the photo book story moms do appear able to capitalise on windows of opportuinites to acces resources when these arise. It would seem that their ethnotheories postion their life orientation towards looking for resources and using it. It is clear that the literacy and other practices of some of the target families and the photo story book moms differ, making some of the target families less adept at accessing and capitalising on resources, but would it just be a question of educating them? It would seem that one needs to look at the structural conditions which constrain these families. These families probably need to develop a strategic orientation to resources. First, of course, they need access to resources, but then they also need to use it strategically, or have access to human resources that can help them to use it.

Chapter 8. Conclusion

In the investigation of the literacy orientation of preschool children in the multilingual environment of post-apartheid Manenberg, this thesis has explored parental ethnotheories in respect of space, multilingualism, and literacy. It has shown that these ethnotheories impact on parental perceptions of the spaces they engage in, and on their practices, which in turn influence the literacy socialisation of their children. This is an impoverished community, resulting in an extreme paucity of literacy resources. Some parents overcome this obstacle by tapping into their extended social networks, and manage to provide their children with a text rich environment. Others have narrowly defined social networks, and are less successful in employing this avenue to assist their children with access to literacy resources.

While the findings of this thesis allow the writer to make the claims listed above and in the previous chapter, it would appear that much more work needs to be done. This thesis only looks at a few families, all of them classified as ‘coloured’ under the previous regime, and none of them has Xhosa as language of first preference. Post 1994 a number of Xhosa speaking families have relocated to Manenberg, and we have seen that some of these families have begun sending their children to English and Afrikaans medium schools in Manenberg. This presents challenges both to the families and to the schools, as it is not clear what level of support the families or the schools can offer the children in regard to the scaffolding of language and literacy acquisition. An in depth study would be required to investigate these matters, and also to see whether the intervention conducted by UWC and TIP can be rolled out to the entire community.

As mentioned in chapter 1, this thesis was aimed at contributing to the ultimate goal of the CDEL project by seeking ways to mobilise the residents of Manenberg around the literacy socialisation of their children as part of an integrated programme designed to empower residents to take their place as citizens in post apartheid South Africa. However, it is the opinion of this writer that the empowerment of the residents of Manenberg will continue to encounter difficulties unless government and the private sector undergo a paradigm shift. Gangsterism, violence, and substance abuse will remain major stumbling blocks while poverty and high unemployment prevail. The democratically elected government has had three terms in office thus far, yet communities in townships like Manenberg continue to live under very similar conditions to those they lived under in the apartheid era. The current government, under pressure from more powerful global players and international market forces, appears to have embraced capitalism while attempting to widen the social security network in order to alleviate the conditions of poverty that the majority of its constituency continues to live under. Certainly, the famed ‘invisible hand of the market’ has been particularly obtuse in ignoring the plight of the poor. Within its own Tripartite Alliance, there are contending forces with opposing views concerning which economic system would be best suited to alleviate the plight of the impoverished masses. The current government’s economic policy is viewed as an attack on the working class by some within the Tripartite Alliance. Indeed, Hamilton (2002) states that the ANC is blindly determined “to press ahead with its neo-liberal programme, [that] the attacks against the working class will intensify[, and that] resistance will grow and the crisis in the Alliance will deepen.” The government would do well to heed the warning sounded by Lefebvre (1972: 54), namely that the Soviet Union failed to create a socialist space, and so was doomed to fail. This government clearly needs to consider Lefebvre’s (ibid: 55) claim that “[t]oday, more than ever, the class struggle is inscribed in space,” and to examine carefully what spaces it is working at producing for the people of this country as a whole, and for the people like those in Manenberg in particular.

Despite the potentially gloomy picture painted above, the people of Manenberg continue to display a defiant resilience. Cammy (2009) reports that when he moved into Manenberg in the late 1960s the people had a slogan: “Die Tsjatsjies a’rit is”. The phrase is difficult to translate as it contains an obscure contraction (“a’ rit is” ): ‘rit is is a form of dit is , with “a’” possibly a contraction of wat/waar/daar/dat or maybe ja, or it could simply be an exclamatory a! Cammy (ibid) feels that the phrase can be restated as Die Tsjatsjies soos dit is . Although I have been hard pressed to find anyone who remembers what the nickname means, that sentiment seems to have remained, as has the nickname “Tsjatsjies”. Bourdieu (1989: 21) argues that “objective relations of power tend to reproduce themselves in relations of symbolic power”, and that “agents put into action the symbolic capital that they have acquired in previous struggles” when engaging in symbolic struggles like those related to legitimate naming. It seems to me that the act of renaming or nicknaming one’s neighbourhood coupled with the attitude the abovementioned slogan reflects can be construed as an assertive act, an act of reappropriation of space. In the same way that a people’s defiant response to apartheid was captured in Abdullah Ibrahim’s anthemic “Manenberg revisited”, so people refuse to allow Manenberg to be pigeonholed or stigmatised by outsiders or the media. In spite (or perhaps because) of these negative images of Manenberg, the respondents declare themselves to be happy with their respective lived spaces in Manenberg, and many believe that they can make a difference in Manenberg. The challenge of course is how best to assist them in that cause.


Banda, F. 2003. A Survey of Literacy Practices in Black and Coloured Communities in South Africa: Towards a Pedagogy of Multiliteracies. Language, Culture and Curriculum. Vol. 16. No 2. pp 106-129.

Barton, D. and Hamilton, M. 1998. Local Literacies. Reading and writing in one community. London and New York: Routledge.

Blommaert, J. 2010. The sociolinguistics of globalisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blommaert, J. And Dong, J. 2010. Ethnographic fieldwork: a beginner’s guide. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Blommaert, J. 2006. Sociolinguistic scales. Working papers in urban language and literacies. Paper 37. London: Kings College.

Blommaert, J., Collins, J., and Slembrouck, S. 2005. Spaces of multilingualism. Language & Communication. Vol. 25. pp 197–216.

Blommaert, J., Collins, J., and Slembrouck, S. 2005b. Polycentricity and interactional regimes in ‘global neighbourhoods’. Ethnography. Vol. 6. No. 2. pp 205-235.

Blommaert, J., Muyllaert, N., Huysmans, M. and Dyers, C. 2005. Peripheral
normativity: The production of locality in a South African township school. Linguistics and Education. Vol. 16. pp 378–403

Boeta D. 2010. Personal communication (Multiple private interviews conducted in person between April and June 2010.

Bourdieu, P. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. 1989. Social Space and Symbolic Power. Sociological Theory. Vol. 7. No.1 Spring. pp 14-25.

Bourdieu, P. And Wacquant, L. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bray, R. Et al. 2010. Growing up in the new South Africa. Children and adolescence in post-apartheid Cape Town. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Brice Heath, S. 1982. What no bedtime story means: Narrative skills at home and in school. Language in Society. Vol. 11. No. 1. April. pp. 49-76.

Bunar, N. 2008. “If we only had a few more Swedes here”. Ungdomsforskning. No. 1 & 2.

Butler, A. 2004. Contemporary South Africa. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, and New York, N.Y.: Palgrave MacMillan.

City of Cape Town. No date. City of Cape Town Census 2001. Accessed 10 October 2010. Available at:

De Certeau, M. 1988. The practice of everyday life. Berkley: University of California Press.

Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. 2005. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research Third Edition. Thousand Oaks; London; New Delhi: Sage Publications, Inc.

Dyers, C. 2008. Language shift or maintenance? Factors determining the use of Afrikaans among some township youth in South Africa. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics. Vol. 38. pp 49-72.

Dyers, C. 2007. An investigation into the role of the Afrikaans language in indexing the individual and collective self among some township youth in South Africa. The Journal Of International Social Research. Volume 1/1. Fall. pp83-101.
Ellison, N., & Burrows, R. 2007. New Spaces of (Dis)engagement? Social Politics, Urban Technologies and the Rezoning of the City Housing Studies. Vol. 22. No. 3.pp. May. 295–312.

Gee, J. P. 2004. Situated Language and Learning. A critique of traditional schooling. London and New York: Routledge.

Hamilton, W. 2002. Re-building the movement in South Africa. Socialism Today Issue 71. Dec-Jan. (Website). Accessed on 1 November 2010. Available at:

Hammersley, M. 1993. Introducing Ethnography. In Graddol, D., Maybin, J., and Stierer, B. (Eds.). Researching Language and Literacy in Social Context. Clevedon; Philadelphia; Adelaide: Multilingual Matters Ltd in association with The Open University.

Hanks, W. F. 2005. Pierre Bourdieu and the Practices of Language. Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 34. pp. 67-83.

Hartley, A. 2008. Official pledges to Proudly Manenberg campaign ‘were hot air’. Article sourced from the Cape Times published on the website on 12 September 2009. Accessed on 10 November 2010. Available at:

Janecke, W. 2009. Personal communication (multiple private interviews conducted both telephonically and in person in February 2009).

Jones, M. 2010. Experts slam ‘horrific’ gossip site. Cape Times. Independent Newspapers: Cape Town. 11 November 2010, page 7.

Jooste, B. 2009. Manenberg group walks out of meeting with city in protest. Article sourced from the Cape Argus published on the website on 27 April 2009. Accessed on 10 November 2010. Available at:

Joseph, N. 2010. Manenberg: Members under fire at eviction site. SAPS Journal online. Accessed 10 October 2010. Available at:

Lefebvre, H. 1972. The Production of Space. Malden, Oxford, and Carlton: Blackwell Publishing.

Legget, T. 2005. Terugskiet (returning fire): Growing up on the street corners of Manenberg, South Africa. Institute for security studies. Accessed 16 February 2009. Available at:

Martin-Jones, M. and Jones, K. 2000. Introduction: Multilingual Literacies. In Martin-Jones, M. and Jones, K. (Eds.). Multilingual Literacies: reading and writing different worlds. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Moose, J. 2010. Personal communication (multiple private interviews conducted both telephonically and in person between April and October 2010).

Nichols S., Nixon H., Rainbird S., and Rowsell J. 2007. Exploring a Methodology for Tracing Spatial, Social and Textual Networks through Neighbourhoods. UniSA/Uni of Adelaide/Flinders University: Paper delivered at the 3rd State Of Australian Cities National Conference 2007 – SOAC Adelaide, South Australia 2007. Accessed 16 July 2010. Available at:

Prinsloo, M. 2004. Literacy is child’s play: Making sense in Khwezi Park. Language and Education. Vol. 18. No. 4. pp. 291-304.

Patton, M. Q. 2002. Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.

Pavlenko, A. and Blackledge, A. (Eds.). 2004. Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual matters Ltd.

Ramanathan, V. 2005. Some impossibilities around researcher location: tensions around divergent audiences, languages, social stratification. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education. Vol. 4(4). pp. 291–320.

Rampton, B. (2006). Language in Late Modernity: Interaction in an Urban School. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ross, F. C. 2010. Raw Life, New Hope. Claremont: UCT Press.

Rudestam, K. E., and Newton R.R. 2007. Surviving your dissertation. A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (3rd edition). Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage Publications.

Salo, E. 2004. Respectable Mothers, Tough Men and Good Daughters: Producing Persons in Manenberg Township, South Africa. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Emory University, Atlanta, USA.

Schwarz, C., Davidson, G., Seaton, A., and Tebbit, V . (Eds.). 1990. Chambers English Dictionary. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers Ltd.

Scollon, R. And Scollon, S. 2003. Discourses in Place: Language in the material world. London: Routledge.

Sinclair-Smith, K. 2009. Personal communication on 26 October 2009. (Sinclair-Smith is employed by the City of Cape Town as Principal Professional Officer: Metropolitan Spatial Planning.)

Slabbert, S. and Finlayson, R. 2000. “I’m a cleva!”: the linguistic makeup of identity in a South African urban environment. Int’l. J. Soc. Lang. 144, 2000, pp. 119-135.

Stein, P. and Slominsky, L. 2006. An eye on the text and an eye on the future: Multimodal literacy in three Johannesburg families. In Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (Eds.), Travelnotes from the new literacy studies: Instances of practice. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Street, B. 2000. Literacy events and practices. In Martin-Jones, M. and Jones, K. (Eds.). Multilingual Literacies: reading and writing different worlds. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Stroud, C. 2009a. Unpublished presentation delivered on 17 August 2009, CHR seminar room, UWC, Bellville.

Stroud, C. 2009b. A Postliberal Critique of Language Rights: Towards a Politics of Language for a Linguistics of Contact. In: Running ahead: A Postliberal Critique of Language Rights. Forthcoming.

Stroud, C. 2002. Framing Bourdieu socioculturally: Alternative forms of linguistic legitimacy in postcolonial Mozambique. Multilingua. Vol. 21. pp. 247 – 273.

Stroud, C. and Mpendukana, S. 2009. Towards a material ethnography of linguistic landscape: Multilingualism, mobility and space in a South African township. Journal of Sociolinguistics Vol. 13/3. pp. 363–386.

Harkness, S., & Super, C. M. 1996. Parents’ cultural belief systems: Their origins, expressions, and consequences. New York: Guilford.

Harkness, S., and Super, C.M. 1992. Parental Ethnotheories in Action. In Sigel, I., McGillicuddy-DeLisi, A. V., and Goodnow, J. J. Hillsdale. (eds.). 1992. Parental Belief Systems: The Psychological Consequences for Children (2nd ed.). pp. 373–92. N.J.: Erlbaum.

Turok, I. and Sinclair-Smith, K. 2009. City’s heart is not CBD, but crowded south-east. Cape Times. Independent Newspapers: Cape Town. 26 October 2009, page 11.

Wacquant, L. 2008. The Body, the Ghetto and the Penal State. Journal of Qualitative Sociology. Vol. 32. pp. 101–129

Willenberg, I.A. and September, R. 2008. Profile of the Manenberg Community. Unpublished report, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa.

Williams, C. 2010. Unpublished personal communication (multiple private interviews conducted both telephonically and in person between January 2009 and October 2010).

Accessed on 25 November 2010.


Research into the literacy orientation of preschool children in Manenberg

Consent form
Thank you for agreeing to participate in this study which is being conducted during the period from January 2009 to December 2010. Your involvement in the study is limited to the period ………… to ……………
This form outlines the purpose of the study and provides a description of your involvement and rights as a participant.
The purposes of the study are:
1. To contribute to fulfilling the requirements for the researcher to complete the degree of MA (Linguistics) in the Department of Linguistics, University of the Western Cape.
2. To gain insight into the topic of literacy, particularly literacy practices of preschool children living in the Manenberg area, with the aim of making recommendations that might lead to the improvement of school literacy learning and teaching.
We will be using any or all of the following methods: questionnaires, interviews, diaries, observations amongst others to obtain information from you as parent, caregiver, teacher, expert, community worker, resident, or other actor in relation to the preschool child in Manenberg. Based on this information we will write one or more research papers culminating in a thesis on the topic of literacy orientation/literacy practices/social uses of literacy or multiple literacy practices of preschool children in Manenberg.
We guarantee that the following conditions will be met:
• Your participation is voluntary
• You have the right to withdraw at any stage
• Your name will not be used in any records, unless you specifically want your name to be used
• Personal names or names of places will be given pseudonyms that will be used in all verbal and written records
• If you grant permission for audio/video recordings, no recordings will be used for any purposes other than this study.
If at any stage you have questions about the study, please contact Dmitri Jegels at or 0219593899.
Are you willing to complete the questionnaire? Yes….. No…..
Are you willing to keep a diary? Yes….. No…..
Do you grant permission to be quoted (i.e. for your name to be used)? Yes….. No…..
Do you grant permission to be quoted anonymously? Yes….. No…..
The aims and implications of the study have been explained to me. I understand that I can withdraw from the study at any time. I as the respondent agree to the terms.




I/We, the researcher/s, agree to the terms





Literacy and language questionnaire / Letterkundige en taal vraelys
Remember there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. The answer is as you report it. Onthou daar is geen ‘korrekte’ of ‘verkeerde’ antwoord nie. Die antwoord is soos u dit daar stel.
1. Which languages are spoken in the home? If more than one, tick according to choice. E.g. if Kaapse Afrikaans is first choice, tick box in column 1.
Watter tale word in die huis gepraat? Indien meer as een, merk volgens keuse. Bv. As Kaapse Afrikaans die eerste keuse is, merk die boks in kolom een.
Keuse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Kaapse Afrikaans
Formele Afrikaans
English and Afrikaans
Other/Ander (state/noem)

2. Which languages do you prefer to write in?/ Watter tale verkies u om in te skryf?
Other (state)/Ander (noem)
3. Which languages do you prefer to read in?/ Watter tale verkies u om in te lees?
Other (state)/Ander (noem)
4. How often do you read/ write the following in daily life at home?/ Hoe dikwels lees/skryf u die volgende tuis in u daaglikse lewe?
Regular (at least once a week)/Gereeld (ten minste een keer ’n week) Never/Don’t know Nooit/Weet nie
Write sms messages
Skryf sms boodskappe

Update your Facebook status Bring u Facebook status op datum
Chat on Mxit Gesels op Mxit
Chat on Ou Toilet Gesels op Ou Toilet
Surf the internet Gebruik die internet
Write a letter or anything else Skryf ’n brief of enigiets anders
Fill in official forms
Vul amptelike vorms in
Read newspapers mainstream, e.g. Cape Argus, Die Burger)
Lees koerante (harde nuus, bv. Cape Argus, Die Burger)
Read tabloids, e.g. Die Son or Voice
Lees informele koerante, bv. Die Son of Voice
Read magazines
Lees tydskrifte
Listen to radio Luister na die radio
Regular (at least once a week)/Gereeld (ten minste een keer ’n week) Never/Don’t know / Nooit/Weet nie
Listen to cassettes/CDs/mp3 players/Watch DVDs
Luister na kassette/CDs/mp3 spelers/Kyk na DVDs
Use a personal computer
Gebruik ’n persoonlike rekenaar
Watch educational programmes
Kyk na opvoedkundige programme
Watch recreational programmes
Kyk na vermaaklikheids-programme
Watch news in English on TV
Kyk na nuus in Engels op TV
Watch news in Afrikaans on TV
Kyk na in Afrikaans op TV
Watch news in Xhosa on TV
Kyk na nuus in Xhosa op TV
Watch news in Zulu on TV
Kyk na nuus in Zulu op TV
5. How often do you read/ write the following in daily life anywhere besides home, and if you do, where?/ Hoe dikwels lees/skryf u die volgende enige plek in u daaglikse lewe behalwe tuis, en indien wel, waar?
Regular (at least once a week)/Gereeld (ten minste een keer ’n week) Never/Don’t know Nooit/Weet nie
Write sms messages
Skryf sms boodskappe

Update your Facebook status Bring u Facebook status op datum
Chat on Mxit Gesels op Mxit
Regular (at least once a week)/Gereeld (ten minste een keer ’n week) Never/Don’t know / Nooit/Weet nie
Chat on Ou Toilet Gesels op Ou Toilet
Surf the internet Gebruik die internet
Write a letter or anything else Skryf ’n brief of enigiets anders
Fill in official forms
Vul amptelike vorms in
Read newspapers(mainstream, e.g. Cape Argus, Die Burger)
Lees koerante (harde nuus, bv. Cape Argus, Die Burger)
Read tabloids, e.g. Die Son or Voice
Lees informele koerante, bv. Die Son of Voice
Read magazines
Lees tydskrifte
Listen to radio
Luister na die radio
Listen to cassettes/CDs/mp3 players/Watch DVDs
Luister na kassette/CDs/mp3 spelers/Kyk na DVDs
Use a personal computer
Gebruik ’n persoonlike rekenaar
Watch educational programmes
Kyk na opvoedkundige programme
Read a book/Lees ’n boek
Watch recreational programmes
Kyk na vermaaklikheids-programme
Watch news in English on TV
Kyk na nuus in Engels op TV
Regular (at least once a week)/Gereeld (ten minste een keer ’n week) Never/Don’t know / Nooit/Weet nie
Watch news in Afrikaans on TV
Kyk na in Afrikaans op TV
Watch news in Xhosa on TV
Kyk na nuus in Xhosa op TV
Watch news in Zulu on TV
Kyk na nuus in Zulu op TV

6. Kinds of reading material found in your home?/Watse lees material is daar in u huis?

Daily newspaper (mainstream)
Daaglikse koerante (harde nuus)
Tabloids (Die Son/Voice)
Informele koerante (Die Son/Voice)
Weekly community newspapers
Weeklikse gemeenskaps-koerante
More than 25 books
Meer as 25 boeke
An encyclopaedia
‘n Ensiklopedie
A dictionary/’n Woordeboek
Other (state)/Ander (noem)
7. How often is anyone in your household assisted with reading and writing the following at home?/Hoe dikwels word enigeen in u huishouding tuis bygestaan om die volgende te lees?
Most of the time/some of the time Only now and then/hardly at all
Reading information from government departments, businesses, or other institutions
Lees inligting van regeringsafdelings, besighede, of ander instellings
Most of the time/some of the time Only now and then/hardly at all
Filling in forms such as job applications
Vul vorms in soos aansoeke vir werk
Filling in forms such as bank deposit slips
Vul vorms in soos bank deposito strokies
Writing notes to friends and family/Skryf notas aan vriende en gesin
Writing sms messages
Skryf sms boodskappe
Writing job application letters
Skryf werksaansoek briewe
Reading instructions, such as on how to do an assignment
Lees instruksies, soos hoe om ‘n opdrag uit te voer/studiestuk te doen
Reading instructions, e.g. on how to use a TV or cellphone
Lees instruksies, bv. hoe om ’n TV of selfoon te gebruik
Reading magazines
Lees tydskrifte
Reading newspaper articles (mainstream)
Lees koerant artikels (harde nuus)
Reading newspaper articles (tabloids)
Lees koerant artikels (informeel)
Reading books for pleasure/relaxation
Lees boeke vir plesier/ontspanning
Reading schoolbooks
Lees skoolboeke
8. How often is the preschool child assisted at home with reading and writing? Hoe dikwels word die voorskoolse kind tuis bygestaan met lees en skryf?
Preschool child assisted by/Voorskoolse kind bygestaan deur Most of the time/some of the time Only now and then/hardly at all
Other (state)/Ander (noem)

9. What is the highest level of education of each member of your household?/ Wat is die hoogste vlak van opvoeding van elke lid van u huishouding?
Member of household/Lid van huishouding Level of education/Vlak van opvoeding
Brother/Broer (age/ouderdom)
Sister/Suster (age/ouderdom)
Child1/Kind 1 (age/ouderdom)
Child 2/Kind 2 (age/ouderdom)
Child 3/Kind 3 (age/ouderdom)
Child 4/Kind 4 (age/ouderdom)
Member of household/Lid van huishouding Level of education/Vlak van opvoeding

10. Can everyone in above 7 years of age in your household read and write?/Kan almal bo 7 jaar oud in u huishouding lees en skryf?
Yes/Ja No/Nee

11. With which language is the preschool child mainly being brought up? Met watter taal word die voorskoolse kind hoofsaaklik opgebring?
Afrikaans (Formeel)
Kaapse Afrikaans
English and Afrikaans (Kaaps)
Other (state)/Ander (noem)

11. When the preschool child enters Grade 1, which language would you prefer as the medium of instruction?/Wanneer die voorskoolse kind Graad 1 toe gaan, watter taal sou u as die taal van onderrig verkies?
Afrikaans (Formeel)
Kaapse Afrikaans
Other (state)/Ander (noem)
12. Does anyone bring reading material of any kind to your home, if so, who brings it and what kind of reading material is it?/ Bring enigeen enige sort leesstof na u huis, indien wel wie, en watter sort leesstof is dit?
Person bringing reading material to your home/Persoon wat leesstof na u huis bring Kind of reading material/Soort leesstof


Nastassia (GRADE 1) 08: 04:2010
Today Nastassia made patterns & shapes. I read her a story about a goat who lost his way but returned home safely with the help of a little boy called Ben. The name of the story was Ben & the goat.
Today Nastassia did some writing & coloring. She wrote a few words from her school file. She coloured in pictures that her brother drew for her.
Today her brother just read her a story. She watched Mickey Mouse & the clubhouse which is very educational. She learned a lot by watching her favourite programme.
Nastassia played in the yard & she did some colouring again.
Today Nastassia was excited to go back to school & see all her friends again. She came back with lots of homework. She had cut out pictures from magazines. She had to cut out pictures of transportation.
Today Nastassia was visited by Dimitri who interviewed me. Her cousin also visited so they played. Nastassia studied her file with words & she had to colour the pictures in. Her brother read them both two books.
Today Nastassia came home early because she had a dentist appointment. She didn’t want to open her mouth so the couldn’t extract her tooth. When we got home she wrote everyone in the house’s names. She felt so proud because she can write her baby sister’s name, Pia.
Everybody got letters from Nastassia today. We couldn’t make out a word she wrote but we pretended. All that was on the letters was “letters”.
Today she made envelopes out of newspapers & she painted it.
She just coloured and wrote today.
Nastassia went to sunday school & she told me the story of Adam & Eve. After lunch she read through her file.
Today her brother and I both read her a book. We asked her to tell us what she understood about the story.
Nastassia finally knows the days of the week & shapes. Her favourite shape is triangle.

(Full transcription of all interviews are available from the author on request)

TF1: Transcript of interview with husband and wife (George and Veronique) in Manenberg.
Key: G=George; V=Veronique; R=Researcher; T=Turn
(?) = Inaudible/unclear
[ ] = Researcher’s comments
– = Abrupt stop/staccato speech
. = Full stop
, = Short pause
… = Longer pause
// = Interruption/overlap
= Translated text
Italicised text = Original speech in Afrikaans
CAPITALISED WORDS = Emphasised speech, typically with greater volume or higher pitch

T1 R: What languages or language do you speak at home?
T2 V: Erm, most of the time it’s… you can say it’s like, English and Afrikaans
T3 G: Mm, but most of the time we speak English//
T4 V:: //Yes//
T5 G: //Because//with him, the girl, they grow up with English. He, he as well he just… say from a year or so before he went to school or so he started//
T6 V: //Mm//
T7 G: //with Afrikaans mostly. You see he seldom goes out to play in the street…
T8 R: Uh huh [meaning ‘yes’]
T9 G: So, in the house everybody just speaks English with him.
T10 R: OK a-//
T11 G: //but they adapting with Afrikaans
T12 R: Let me just come back to er, the s-, you went, when you went to school, primary school was that English or Afrikaans?
T13 G: Afrikaans
T14 R: And high school?
T15 G: Afrikaans
T16 R: Afrikaans. And in your case?//
T17 V: //I was Afrikaans… in//
T18 R: You were in Afrikaans?
T19 V: Yes
T20 R: Er…
T21 V: High school and primary school
T22 R: High school AND primary school [baby runs out]
T23 G: Psst! [to older child]
T24 V:: Yes
T25 G: Watch vir hom toe man
T26 V: (?)
T27 R: So, and you choose to speak…
T28 V: English//
T29 G: //English
T30 R: to the child, to the children//
T31 V: //the children yes
T32 R: OK… Erm, can you give me reason why, why you’re doing this?
T33 G: I, I, I find, erm, most, mo- i-i, in a, in… Afrikaans is basi- TODAY, it’s better to, to, for the children to speak good English
T34 V: [Baby moans] Sh, sh, shh…
T35 G: and educational Afrikaans. Because, jobwise, erm, they, they gonna grow up and meet people who are from different cultures and those people mostly will be speaking English instead of Afrikaans//
T36 R: mm//
T37 G: because English is an international language [baby babbles] so erm, it would be better for them to understand and communicate with people better in English… you know because very seldom they most probably gonna, gonna speak to – because, er, to people in Afrikaans erm… job interviews most, most things that you do nowadays, you know, the- for even if forms for the bank you want to fill in then it’s.. gonna be in English and if they… are not goo- good in English erm I don’t, I don’t think they’ll, you know, go very far//
T38 R: //You mentioned educational Afrikaans what do you mean by that?
T39 G: Erm, like, the Afrikaans that they speak now, like, like our daughter she’s two. She speaks a totally – the Afrikaans that she speaks is what she hears in the street, which is something that she will never, they, they don’t talk that kind of Afrikaans in, in, in, in school… erm, they speak proper Afrikaans in school, which, which the teacher will teach her, proper Afrikaans, and not what she’s, erm, hearing now, and, and that she’s starting to learn, and which is something that I wouldn’t want her to learn anyway
T40 R: Why do you say that’s proper Afrikaans, the Afrikaans of the school, and of the Sewende Laan ? That you’re now//
T41 G: Ja, ja, oubaas se gevleuelde woord en so aan (?) erm, Ko’buis Afrikaans she’s, she’s speaking now, but in a bad way, because she’s mostly English, so.. so she, she she speaks Afrikaans like a British person [R laughs] would speak Afrikaans. She, she, really she struggles with … and//
T42 V: With Afrikaans yes//
T43 G: with, with, she struggles a lot but, we leave her… (?) we’ll help her, you know, when we see OK like that word, or that word shouldn’t be there… but, you know like I say when you, when you fill in a, a, a bank form or any form, you- the Afrikaans that is there, you know//
T45 R: Mm//
T46 G: //it is, erm, Van waar is jy oorspronklik? Which we, w-we don’t talk like that at home [R laughs] you see, so, she’s gotta fill that in at, at the bank… so she’s gonna come home and ask, er, what does this mean…
T47 R: Mm
T48 G: Which… she’ll learn at school, they will teach her Waar, van waar is jy oorspronklik? //
T49 R: Mm
T50 G: //but, in the home, we’ll ask, somebody who comes here, Van waa’s djy?
T51 R: OK
T52 G: and she wouldn’t know, that that is the same thing//
T53 V: //same thing//
T54 R: //mm//
T55 G: //that we are speaking about, so she will also go out and ask somebody Van waa’s djy?
T56 R: Mm// [M laughs]//
T57 G: But when somebody else comes around, right, an-and asks her, Van waar is jy oorspronklik? then she would think what’s this person talking about//
T58 V: //Different language [R laughs]//
T59 G: I don’t know that, that’s why I’m saying the, th-the, the the formal Afrikaans, an, and what she’s learning now’s two, two different things, so, you know I, so she, she’ll need to, to learn that when she gets… to school
T60 R (?) [M laughs]
T61 but, but it’s also important that//
T62 V: Uhh [affirmative]//
T63 G: you know erm, she, she, she learns it because, we live in Manenberg
T64 R: Mm
T65 G: you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s a Coloured area so, you don’t expect your child to go outside and talk English all the time because, the other children ar… at the end of the day they either gonna make fun of her, or think that O julle dink julle’s daai mense want djy wil dan net Engels praat <Oh you think you’re wonderful [literally ‘those people’] because you only want to speak English, you know//
T66 R: Is that what people think of people who speak English?
T67 V: Yes//
T68 G: Yes, in, in, in, especially in a place like Manenberg because, like, a child like her, they don’t realise that she doesn’t know how to relate in Afrikaans, because it’s only English in the house… but they speak only Afrikaans… so that, they get this attitude that you know//
T69 V: Mm//
T70 G: you think you better than other people because you just want to speak Afrikaans//
T71 V: & R: //English//
T72 G: and, erm, English… but like I say here in Manenberg you know, everybody’s – has the perception that in Manenberg that if you speak English you know, you trying to be better, or//
T73 V: Djy’s uitgeërig //
T74 R: Djy’s uitgeërig [laughs]//
T75 G: Ja, and they don’t realise, ja and they don’t realise… you know that you just trying, you know, the best for your child


One Response to “Masters Thesis: Completed February 2011”

  1. Afzal said

    Good luck Dmitri
    Here’s hoping you will transfer all that knowledge and skills to other and less fortunate, starting with me, right here under your nose. By the way, my first week at uwc was interesting indeed. Tell you more when I see you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s