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Zukiswa Wanner Explores the Politics of Language and Class in South African Education

Zukiswa Wanner

Men of the SouthZukiswa Wanner, author of Men of the South and The Madams, has written an article for Guernica‘s Writers Bloc project, a “collection of essays about education systems around the world”, in which she explores how the politics of class and language have weighed down South Africa’s education system.

During the course of my research on education for Writers Bloc, I went to the North West of South Africa with a friend. Her sixteen-year-old sister, who was in Grade 10, had written a list of some school necessities she needed her to purchase. The list read:

Maths set
HB Pencils
3 A4 Notebooks
1 A3 Notebook

My friend, in her sister’s presence, showed me this list. I asked the young girl about the spelling of “Dikshinari.” “I was just joking. I decided to spell it in seTswana.”

I gave her a paper and a pen. “Could you spell it in English for me this time around?” She did not do much better. “Dikshinary” is what she wrote.

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Photo courtesy Geosi Reads


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