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Showing posts from June, 2016

Remembering the code of black life

“Sithi masizodibanisa amehlo. Akuhlanga lungehliyo. Kunje kuzo zonke izizwe. Tutwini.”
I’ve heard these words many times; as though they were a litany or a poem. These are the words I heard every time I went to umthandazo, a prayer meeting, held at a home when a family member has died. These meetings were largely organised through the church. We would go after church on a Sunday or iGuildas —ulutsha, the youth—would go during the week. Thursday was reserved for uManyano. If the person who passed away was a member of uManyano, Thursday also meant kuxhonywa ibhatyi: a ritual that involves taking the manyano uniform and hanging it up in the home until the funeral. This would be a symbol and reminder to anyone who visits the home that the mother of the home was umama webhatyi, a church mother.
Recently these memories have been creeping up on me slowly, reminding me of the patterns and rituals I’ve been involved with which gave me meaning as a child and teenager. More importantly, they’ve be…

Social hierarchy in the school playground

There are times when I'm teaching and I will deliberately go off the script of marking boring work and delve into a conversation under the pretence of getting the girls to engage with a text. Today was such a day. I could sense my grade 9s weren't really riveted by the work we were doing; in spite of the value of the work. We were marking a past paper which is great preparation for exams but not so great when it's just another Wednesday morning at school.

The comprehension in the past paper wasn't particularly exciting nor particularly dull. It was Daniel Browde's reflection of attending his 20 year reunion. One of the questions that became a talking point for almost half the lesson was the issue of the social hierarchy he describes as a labyrinth: "The labyrinth was not the place, although it was apt that the reunion was held there. The labyrinth was the group: the 250 human beings herded together every weekday for 5 years. And not just any 5 years: those godf…