This ethnographic exploration tackles meanings of childhood in Qondwa village, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, by illustrating how childhood is constantly shifted, negotiated and contested. These attempted definitions of childhood defy the Western constructs of childhood, regarding the ethnography here is undertaken in African context. I dedicated six months carrying out qualitative research on these meanings. For purposes of my research, I adopt the local term, rather than recorded Western definition of a 'child' in Qondwa which is expressed as any boy or girl who is financially dependent on parents or guardians, regardless of age. Furthermore, a boy only transitions into a man, as a girl into a woman, when financially independent of their parents/guardians, regardless of age. I hereby argue that there is no universal meaning of childhood and provide comparative ethnographies of childhood to cement this argument. I adopt Karp's theory of personhood to further argue that personhood of children determines how children experience realities. I go further to discuss childhood in the context of parents/guardians, childhood in the context of defined socio-geographic spaces, childhood in the context of traditional cultural events which show that there is no universal meaning of childhood, even within a culture displaying the complexities of such definitions.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2017.