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The Performative nature of Tsotsitaal

“Long after the year 2000AD professors and pimps will still enjoy and be fascinated by slanguages and ganguages”

(Mfenyana, 1981: 302)

In South African township areas, young men have an informal way of talking amongst each other. There have been numerous debates surrounding the function, nature and origin of this urban informal male youth variety (Brookes, 2015:1). For my research project, I chose to investigate Tsotsitaal and the discourses surrounding it. I have chosen this particular area for research because of the interest I have for the way people communicate, whether it is through eye contact, touch, gesture or verbally. It should also be mentioned that my perception of Tsotsitaal has predominantly been linked to its criminal connotations, which I felt needed to be addressed. Furthermore, as my home language is Afrikaans I wanted to investigate a form of communication that is, for the most part, vastly different from my own and develop a way in which to incorporate or apply it to a field in which I am specialising, such as visual communication and narrative illustration.



see-you-gesture sharp-sharp smiley speaker taxi

Tsotsitaal II Tsotsitaal-Igreetingukusbheka chicken cigarette

I want to express my gratitude to the kind-hearted staff of the Kayamandi Legacy centre and especially to Lelo Mphindwana, Bennie Tshengelele, Yamkela Nqevu and Abongile Gxuluwe for giving me a wonderful introduction to their neighbourhood, their efforts, taking me on walkabouts through Kayamandi, enthusiasm and interest in my project. I would also like to thank Zamile Ntokwenzani and his friend Wanda Yose with a completely fateful meeting, for taking the time to escort and introduce me to local citizens and friends, your input and interesting stories.  I also want to thank Vuyo Mgijima and Mfana Gqomo, who has been immensely helpful in the gathering of data for this this project.


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    About Me

    My name is Kobie Nieuwoudt, I’m an artist & animator living in Cape Town.

    Humour is an essential part of life and I try to incorporate it into my work. For me illustrating is a positive, creative outlet and I hope it will also lighten the mood of those who come into contact with my work.

    Get in touch

    For enquiries regarding illustration projects and commercial work please contact me directly at kobie.nieuwoudt@gmail.com


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