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This book began as unfinished business. In 1983 I published The Brotherhoods: Street Gangs and State Control in Cape Town. It sought the cause of the city‟s many youth gangs in socio-political factors: poverty, poor education, broken families and the massive urban relocations of people of colour under the apartheid regime. It ended by warning that unless communities took these wild youngsters under control instead of blaming them on apartheid there would be a massive increase in crime and violence whatever the political system. There was. After the democratic elections in 1994 crime became the single most damaging factor in economic reconstruction and urban development. And at the heart of this problem were gangs, syndicates, drugs and murder. The elections coincided with my return both to criminology (after 10 years of teaching journalism) and to Cape Town. I found the gang problem far worse than when I left; nothing had been solved and young and generally underprivileged people were as much the victims as the perpetrators of extremely high levels of violence. I could hardly do otherwise than to take up where I had left off. Professor Wilfried Schärf of the UCT‟s Institute of Criminology offered all support and discussion time I needed (as well as essential funding) and Rosemary Shapiro of Nicro National pulled me onto a committee working on draft legislation for juvenile justice. Here I teamed up with Rosemary and Advocate Ann Skelton of Lawyers for Human Rights in what was to become a powerful working synergy and a wonderful friendship. The proposed legislation, hammered out in the offices of the Community Law Centre at UWC and at the Institute of Criminology, was a revolutionary break from existing models of punitive justice. It proposed victim and community involvement with young offenders and a „track‟ which was restorative and demanded that young offenders take responsibility for their actions. Rosemary, Ann and I were closely involved in moves that led to whipping being banned as a form of punishment and we all wound up on the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Young People at Risk chaired by the extraordinarily-dynamic Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, now Minister of Welfare. The committee‟s aim was to propose to the new government legislation dealing with young people at risk and in trouble with the law. All these developments - and President Nelson Mandela‟s personal interest in the welfare of young people led to a crisis in punishment. Until whipping was outlawed, more than 30 000 young (and generally black) men were being whipped annually by the state. The outlawing of this form of punishment, linked to a growing objection to prison as a form of punishment for youngsters, raised a deafening question, not the least from magistrates: what to do with young people who offend? This study began as an attempt to answer this question with regard to gangsters. But this time, instead of looking at the external factors which led youths into gangs, I asked a question I should have asked 10 years earlier: what is it about adolescence that makes gangs so attractive? Because only in answering this can we find what might motivate young people to escape them. This research took me from the dangerous streets of Mannenberg to rituals as ancient as humankind itself. And, surprisingly, it demanded that I ask questions about myself and my relationship to my father: important questions we should all ask. Needless to say, this work is in its infancy and is now being taken forward by a number of individuals and organisations (the most important of these being Nicro and the Wilderness Leadership School). When this study was completed I began work on the development of a programme for young people based on ancient Khoi-San trail science. The road through adolescence has many pathways. . . . In addition to those whom I have mentioned, many other people made this book possible. They include some wonderful and dedicated people on the Youth Justice Consultancy and the Inter-Ministerial
Committee, Ministers Dullah Omar (Justice) and Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi (Welfare) who offered time and insight when these were needed, Karl Niehaus for his startling political wisdom at all times, Lauren Nott and Nigel Branken of Nicro for being prepared to try out difficult and unusual pilot studies, Elaine Dyer for introducing me to the magic within us all, John D‟Almeida and his Outward Bound team for dealing with the toughest youngsters imaginable with such gentleness, Karen van Eden for taking forward this work with insight and sensitivity and Venetia Lorenzo for her delightful lack of tact when it was most needed. Most especially I would like to thank my co-researcher Dudu Douglas Hamilton whose work with the two most dangerous gangs in the city was nothing less than an act of extreme bravery. She has a maturity way beyond her years, but I confess I often feared for her safety. Perhaps her upbringing among the elephant herds of Kenya stood her in good stead. And finally I would like to thank my wife Patricia and children Gaelen and Romaney-Rose. Researchers with their heads clogged up with facts and meetings are not the best people to have to live with. But Patricia offered only concern, support and discussion. And my children, both adolescents, forced me to practice what I preached.
Boys everywhere have a need for rituals marking their passage to manhood. If society does not provide them they will inevitably invent their own.
The woman drove the car forward and felt a bump as the tyre ran over the foot of one of the attackers. But another one clung to her car‟s bonnet, obscuring her vision and causing her to narrowly miss a mini -bus taxi. The taxi driver, quickly assessing the situation, pulled out a pistol and began firing at the youths, who ran away. Their action was undoubtedly criminal. If the youngsters were brought to court it would be the job of a prosecutor to prove that this was an unprovoked attack. And it would be the task of a magistrate to impose a sentence that would cause the young men to feel society‟s wrath and to deter them from ever undertaking such action in the future. But would these steps, seemingly so central to the necessary course of justice, be of any use to the victim, the youths or society? If one is to judge by the escalation of teenage lawbreaking and recidivism despite decades - even centuries - of whipping and imprisonment, the answer is probably no. On the contrary - and particularly if the young men were gang members - each step of the legal process would serve to reinforce those traits the law officers would most like to eliminate, embedding the youngsters deeper in gang culture and increasing their taste for wild, anti-social performances. There are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, the South African justice system was not designed with young people in mind and does not act in ways likely to win their allegiance or change their attitudes. The reason for this, at least in part, is our inheritance of a legal system designed for control and not for social restoration or personal transformation. Jim Consedine has noted that:
The law imposed by the English, wherever they colonised, was the law of a conquering empire. The English did to others what the Roman Empire had attempted with them - impose its own form of imperial law. In essence it was hierarchical and centralised. In criminal matters it was retributive in nature, vengeful and punishing in effect.
A second reason is that collective adolescent behaviour - particularly where it relates to gangs - seems to be little understood by law officials trained in Western legal procedures. Indeed, few adults can accurately remember the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the pressures to conform, perform and win respect. Why did the youngsters attack the woman? In their absence it is impossible to answer for them. But in their action can be sensed a certain naive wildness, an unplanned theatricality, which seems to have placed more value on ritualistic performance than on the apparent goals of the action (why lie on the bonnet hacking at the windscreen rubber when a brick through the window would have done the job?). This does not condone their behaviour. But to understand such action - and I will argue that we need to do this in
improves behaviour or produces well-adjusted adults.we need to understand what adolescence is. And of feeling misunderstood. Mircea Eliade. The failure of this understanding is presently crystallized in the institutions we have created to correct adolescent rule-breaking. they are secluded and taught the art of womanhood by older females in their .. Here. goes out to the edge . not by punishment and imprisonment. not at the level of socio-political explanations... It is a time of anticipation for something indescribably other . Ritual and adolescence In order to understand what is meaningful for young people . Parents. desert. are myth-makers. more socially cohesive cultures. mentions that initiation of boys begins with two events: the first is a clean break with the parents. strung across an abyss of danger.. in his book Iron John. is to prove to the boy or girl that he or she is more than mere flesh and blood. In a recent South African survey of beliefs and attitudes.order to develop policy concerning young people at risk . Bly sees a crucial link between excess and initiation: We need wilderness and extravagance. David Cohen has described adolescence as a rope bridge of knotted symbols and magic between childhood and maturity. It is also a period of intense feeling. Something in the adolescent male wants risk. courts danger.The boy‟s body inherits physical abilities developed by long-dead ancestors. exhausted by long hours required to make ends meet or demoralised by their inability to cope with the hardships of poverty.. In older. In his book Circle of life: Rituals from the family album. This view is captured by American Sarah van Gelder: The result of this uprooting and neglect is that the solid core of contributing adult members crumbles. or wilderness. It is clearly the most confusing time in our lives and a time deeply misunderstood by Western culture. lawlessness and excess mean to adolescents? And what can we learn from it in order to lead them to the calmer waters of adulthood? This is a key question in the design of any new youth justice system. Whatever shuts a human being away from the waterfall and the tiger will kill him. Robert Bly. But the attempt by young people to solve these problems is more instructive than their causes and is best understood.and without this understanding we cannot hope to be involved in what is meaningful to them . Earlier work on gangs in South Africa has suggested that the effect of poverty and apartheid‟s massive social engineering created s ocial stress to which gangs were a teenage response.a longing for magical transformation and a rejection of the mundane. But Western cultures have largely lost what most pre-industrial cultures knew: These needs and excesses have to be dealt with by ritual guidance and initiation. This pain is considerable and it was made worse by the massive social engineering under apartheid which placed terrible strain on families.. young people were asked to respond to a question: „Hardly anyone I know is interested in how I really feel inside‟. and that risk-taking is also a yearning for initiation.even to the edge of death‟. and the institutions that provide the foundations of community fall apart. in his reports of initiation experiences in dozens of cultures all over the world.we will have to remember something important about our own adolescence: teenagers. It demands ritual space. What does ganging. when girls reach menses. after which the novice goes to the forest. gang formation is an attempted defence against personal pain and isolation which stateinflicted punishment simply compounds. Nearly six in ten African youths strongly agreed with the statement. They need to discover when childhood ends. creating and recreating situations and whole webs of significance little understood by the pragmatic adult world. when and how adulthood begins and what their culture expects of them. Their aim seems to be to inflict emotional and physical pain and social isolation despite the absence of proof that this ensures compliance. these requirements are recognised for what they are. . The community safety net is left in tatters. This echoes the words of William Blake: „The road of excess leads to the place of wisdom‟. Kids are left on their own in . adultless communities. and his mind inherits spiritual and soul powers developed centuries ago. may turn to drugs and alcohol. a time and a place where young men and women can become introduced to the unknown man and woman inside themselves. has noted that „adolescence is a time of risk for boys. above all things. whether the initiator is a man or a woman. but at the level of meaning.The job of the initiator. . To quote David Matza: „The process of becoming deviant makes little human sense without understanding the philosophical inner life of the subject as he bestows meaning upon the events and materials that beset him. Indeed. But adolescence is also hugely creative.
Other rites of passage are more spiritual. teenage surfistas ride atop speeding trains swerving through the hills above the city. But. for example. Here teenage rituals continue to be enacted daily which are far older than the justice system which judges them. Elaborately. While hunting is no longer a vital skill in most of the world. No one escapes the constant necessity of dressing himself in a series of different uniforms or silk hats. Khoi trance dances. for reasons lying deep in the mystery of personality. For this reason elaborate rituals have developed around the heroic deed. the inner circle of the gang may be gained by hunting and killing an „enemy‟ gangster. adolescents dive from high towers to prove they are courageous enough to become men. Tom Driver has suggested that ritualising is our first language. Human longing for ritual is deep. not our „mother‟ but out „grandmother‟ tongue. It is rather that rituals have invented us.through migration. for example. is brought into play. The short answer to why we do these things is that we do them in order to grow up. These are spirit food. In Rio de Janeiro. initiation into clubs and organisations.we are often without formal life-paths and have . holy communions. Jewish barmitzvahs. After Jewish bar mitzvah at 13 a boy becomes a Son of the Commandment and becomes accountable for his actions. And at these times the greatest point of growth for adolescents is not their legs or their genitals but their spirit. performance and ritual. they risk serious injury or death. Among the !Kung. But we do not grow up gradually and comfortably. the changes which take place over the few teenage years are staggering. it is something in which men have never really lived. to become heroes and to be accepted is paramount. young people engage in rituals of transformation which have a single goal: adult respect. Boys typically face an ordeal or trial where they earn and affirm their passage to manhood. Boer kommando lore. Risking one‟s life is ever present in these hunts. In new Guinea there is a saying: „A boy cannot change into a man without the active intervention of older men‟.and adolescence is one of these times .young people continue to have (and act on) the same needs. and watching himself go by. Among older members. we do it in spurts followed by periods of stability. but the necessary challenge can also be found elsewhere. for millennia. he says. a boy traditionally cannot marry until he has made a kill. And for boys this seems particularly important. It is for this reason that when we feel a prolonged or acute absence of moral guidance. their need to test their mettle. In this painful and dangerous journey can be found echoes of African initiation ceremonies. In each case there is a conscious recognition that adolescence involves a process. a transformation. ancient hunting rituals. constructs for himself a succession of little dramas in which he is the principal character. scarifications and apprenticeship to a spiritual master. Emile Durkheim goes even further. guiding. the ritualising impulse. substances and attitudes dating back to the dawn of our species. observing that „society is not an empirical fact. a becoming. It is for this reason that they become obsessed by heroes. Our need for ritual is elegantly captured by Thurmon Arnold: Every individual. In Vanuatu. But in cultures which have lost their ancient roots . Arthurian legends and many other rituals through which. young people have attempted to prove themselves worthy of adulthood. to keep it from slipping into the sea of indeterminacy. laid down for us in structures older than consciousness. Behind all of these actions is the mentor. He can now be counted in the quorum for public prayer and publicly bless and read the Torah and the prophetic Haftorah.and often in bizarre forms. Sally Falk Moor sees rituals acting to „provide daily regenerated frames. images of Hollywood. In the suburbs of Cape Town young gang members have to „break a bottle -neck‟ be the person to light a broken bottle-neck filled with a mixture of dagga and mandrax. If they touch the electric lines or fail to duck at the right moment. the wise one. poverty or dilution . And ritual is so basic to our creation of society that to lose ritual is to lose the way. and with tools. It is merely an idea. d efinite and observable. At times like this . the shaman. It is not true.community. This can range from first hunts and ritual warfare to psychic ordeals. within which the attempt is made to fix social life. It is a time filled both with danger and enormous potential for growth. channeling the wildness to calmer shores. often unconsciously. when we do not know in our conscious minds what we ought to do. And where ritual is absent it will be created . Elastic vines attached to their ankles are just short enough to prevent them from crashing to their deaths. and in our culture often frustrated. many people in traditional societies still consider the first hunt to be a necessary milestone on the road to adulthood. approving. the father or mother figure. In the span of a life. social constructions of reality. that we human beings invented rituals. wherever adolescents are. and as such it is something we do not outgrow.
transitions from group to group. quite literally. These adults consider they have something to teach: certain skills. It is at these times. but these are different from the structures of society.. The individual must die of his or her old ways in order to be born into the new.to rehearse in the dark. that we „evolve rituals to suit our needs‟ and engage in them in order to transmit collective messages to ourselv es.rituals that focused upon the young in all the light and darkness of their tribe‟s collective psyche. to quote DH Lawrence. marriage. a ritual or an entire culture. sharing ritual object use. And they are part of the tradition of Africa.and because adolescents can only be influenced by what is meaningful to them . without a script. It is a process whereby the individual differentiates himself or herself from the rest of the community. not embedded in the norms of society and sometimes distinctly opposed to them. especially in males. social puberty. Life. Separation involves symbolic behaviour signifying the detachment of the individual from his or her fixed point in the social structure. holy terror. and the individual is often impelled to do what is forbidden. equality. According to Van Gennep. a term developed by French anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep. . These crucial actions which we engage in as we pass from one state of being to the next are best understood as a rite of passage.be it from a human being. At this stage there is a suspension of the rules. magic. And if these things are not well learned it places the future of the culture in jeopardy. And we did this by taking collected wisdom of an entire culture or a single village or street and presenting this knowledge in the form of a comprehensible drama. is made up of a succession of phases. they celeb rate it: They would assault their adolescents with.In an essay called The Age of Endarkenment. so to speak. he says. with elaborate and excruciating initiations . Traditional rites of passage Traditional cultures everywhere greet the onset of puberty.an understanding of the use of ritual is essential to the construction of the goals and sanctions of a new youth justice system in South Africa. Liminality is a time when adolescents engage in rites of transgression. fatherhood/motherhood and death. During incorporation. all its sense of mystery. essentially they were those crucial moments when we shift the gears of life. Rites of the Threshold (transitional rites or liminality) and Rites of Incorporation (coming together. anonymity and even foolishness when compared with the heterogeneous. These ceremonies and rituals are defined as an individual and inner process of growth as well as a social process of continuity. name-conscious intelligence of the mainstream social order‟. dances. hierarchical social structures and gender differences be respected and allowed expression. He found that the many cultures he studied created ritual ceremonies around moments of individual life crises such as birth. visions and rituals. This stage is often symbolised by death. To build the new we must learn from the old . defined by their spontaneous unconventional nature. But they have also been among the guiding principles of all homogenous societies which place social cohesion and restitution above control and punishment. Michael Ventura noted that adults in these cultures don‟t run from this moment in their children as people in Western cultures do. rituals that had been kept secret from their young until that moment. They generally involve by sharing and coming together. For this reason . Rites of passage in traditional societies demand that continuity in relationships between generations. Ritualised liminality employs structures of its own.. and they are often used to „emphasize homogeneity. from situation to situation and from age to age are implicit in the very fact of existence. In the condition of liminality the state of the „traveler‟ is ambiguous. stories. status-marked. all its questions and all the stories told to both harbour and answer those questions. These ceremonies differed only in detail from culture to culture. Rites of Separation (to detach the subject from their old status or condition). But. The initiate is neither where he was nor where he is headed. rituals are used to symbolise the individual re-entry into the community and into the new group.practices that plainly would not have been necessary unless their young were as extreme as ours. Rituals of transformation are useful in understanding adolescence. passing through a realm that is undefined.
brutality to children and even aimless murder. And these traditions have much to teach modern justice systems about social control and stability. During the ceremony the young woman remains naked but painted white . The girls would dance in a circle and the boys in their own circle. wife beating. As the men lead them away. before they can become an adult. therefore. To most traditional people the absence of such rituals is almost unthinkable. After eight days a community celebration takes place. Instead of condemning youthful wildness in their period of liminality.take it in consciously. transferred from conventional to ritual space. stepping over a threshold through some sort of ceremony into a symbolically „heated‟ situat ion beyond the mundane. Joan Broster found that young teenagers were initially incorporated into the umtshotsho. save me!‟ In many African cultures young women are secluded behind a reed screen in a hut where they are taught by their grandmothers. The magistrate was backed by a committee and a lot of ritual teaching went on. Asked what would happen without them. Strict rules of behaviour were enforced. Without these ceremonies they would go completely wild. while young men are „sent to the mountains‟ for teaching and circumcision. Girls will be secluded „behind the curtain‟ during intonjane and boys will undergo abakhwetha . a club where young men and women danced and courted under the supervision of a „magistrate‟. And when the young girl emerges from seclusion she is welcomed at a big community celebration of singing and dancing at which a bull is slaughtered. depression. some infantile being in them must die. Research among Xhosa people in the Transkei showed the tenacity of these ancient rituals. She goes behind the curtain in a hut for 28 days. or female spiritual teacher. signifying the importance of the ritual. and any transgressions were paid for in fines of brass or copper bangles: In my area the meetings were held every Thursday and they came in their best clothes . Robert Bly insists that „women can change the embryo to a boy. For young boys initiation is generally done by older men who help them move from their mother‟s world to their father‟s world. Intonjane is an attempt to shape the child and discipline her in some way and teach her about her ancestors and about magic and being a woman. discipline it. The young men would have bad dreams and the young girls would get sick.it will turn up outside in the form of gangs. There she is taught by her grandmother who is the inkangata . The authority structure would break down. adolescents in these cultures undergo more formal rituals of transition. rituals of adolescent passage and the handing down of ancestral teaching are still firmly in place. . They could even die! Also they would have no voice. boys need a second birth. All her old clothes and her old ways are expected to be left behind. In this place. an old Tembu chief was unambiguous: It would be chaos.‟ The process of separation is often dramatic and involves procedures noticeably different from everyday life.but they would not be allowed outside the hut to „pet‟ without the permission of the m agistrate. An old inkangata.having only a blanket for protection.circumcision rites. and does not see his mother again for a year and a half . Such practices continue because these cultures have learned what the West has forgotten: If a culture does not deal with the warrior energy of its young men and the spirit energy of its young women . He stays down there for six weeks. the boys may be crying out. they capture its intensity in rituals which teach and empower while protecting social life from adolescent excesses. Occasionally a girl would circle a boy . In the old times it was longer. These are practices which have developed over centuries because they are necessary for the stability of community life. „Save me. drug violence. . Working among the Qaba people in the Transkei. honour it . The youngsters couldn‟t wait to be admitted to umtshotsho.a colour signifying a holy state . In Hopi culture the old men take the boy away at the age of 12 and bring him down into the all-male area of the kiva. retaining the element of surprise. this time a birth from men.At a certain moment young men and women are.clothes and beads were very important. Mothers carefully refrain from telling their sons anything about the impending events. but only men can change the boy to a man . . Later.the mother is not allowed in the hut. Mamma. In New Guinea the initiated men live together in houses at the edge of the village. Despite more than a hundred years of disruptive migrant labour and nearly three centuries of Christian and Western influence. described intonjane as follows: At about 15 the girl must train for womanhood.
and where this not acknowledged it can be socially destructive. Ncoyini remembers: My father received me. Training for warriorhood is central to many rites of passage for young men. Nzimela Ncoyini. . to quote Bly. Tension is built up around the ritual. accepts the job of working seven years under the ground.it doesn‟t make sense. is the feeling of acceptance. Teaching is given about spirit ancestors and about sacred and ritual foods and objects. You have mixed feelings . I felt purified. who underwent circumcision. People listen to you when you use these terms. It makes you feel a bit uncomfortable at times but you really feel that your presence is appreciated. the people who shared his „bush‟ experiences were comrades and „if we still had wars I could be a soldier‟. Women are actively excluded: You have to denounce your feelings for a woman. Before the makwetha enters this ritual space the young man. a process which today lasts about a month but used to last up to nine months. For young people the rewards are considerable. It made me feel I wanted to act responsibly. According to Ncoyini. The men can attend meetings at the Great Place of men and no longer have to speak through others at beer drinks and other social occasions. I felt very positive. In both the Tembu and Mpondo rituals which were studied for this paper a secret language is also learned. very warm and welcome. These are not sexist practices.overheated young men with jail sentences or with averted eyes. According to Ncoyini this language made him feel like a new person: The language changes your mentality . who said it was the right time. But it is a time into which most of the culture‟s values are packed and learned. A young Mpondo. The young men are instructed on what is expected of a man. The quality of a true warrior is that he is in service to a purpose greater than himself. It‟s good that way or people will take it for granted. the older people who had been through the ceremony welcomed me and the community of adults gave me advice on how to be a new person. The makwetha ceremony is often treated with amused tolerance or even embarrassment by many city dwellers in South Africa. They call a woman isigwati. „the poisoned warriors called drug lords prey primarily for recruits on kingless. leaves his clothes behind and wears only a blanket. leaves the granary at will through the rat‟s hole.you‟re afraid of the operation but you know that across the bridge there‟s milk and honey. more important. At the celebration after the ritual the young men and women are welcomed back into the community as adults and equals. Adults pay attention and respect you and are prepared to help you when you use these terms. saying he was too young. It is probable that a large part of our brains relate to warrior behaviour and warrior thoughts. deepens his ability to digest the evil facts of history. first asked his mother if he could undergo the ritual but she refused. If someone talks about a woman in your presence there is something you have to shout out to exclude the thought. Robert Bly sees such initiation as a process which asks the son to „move his love energy away from the attractive mother to the relatively unattractive serpent father‟: When a man enters this stage he regards Descent as a holy thing. But two years later he asked his father. Here. like his female counterpart. In our cities many adolescent boys are experiencing battle intensities .it is very important. is painted with white clay. Everything is hidden until you go yourself. a transcendent cause.Young men undergo a different type of passage to manhood. and follows the voice of the old mole below the ground. warriorless boys‟. It is to destroy the memory. For the boys the ritual from this point is strictly men‟s business. learns to shudder. bites on cinders. But. marking the men as initiates. he increases his stomach for terrifying insights. And it contains important intuitions about adolescent character-shaping and the excitement of the transition to adulthood. and in the hut the initiate is accompanied at all times by a male teacher. A small domed grass hut is built for them in a secluded place far away from the community and often in the mountains. However the procedures were kept secret: You are never told what‟s going to happen. Within the ritual there are traces of military initiation and battle discipline and strong bonds are created between fellow initiates.
. And when they attempt to do this things can go awfully wrong.The inner boy in a messed-up family may keep on being shamed.We are bad-weather animals Gangs are all about this warrior energy in search of respect and rites of transgression. Separation Separation for youths on the street corner begins by constructing „us‟ and „them‟. But there is a poignant sadness about this: young men cannot initiate each other. The rituals of ganging are usefully understood through van Gennep‟s stages of separation. It is possible that it also prevents the female in the boy from developing. broken homes or drugs. In the cities these boys invent rituals to fill the gap. racism. mythologised. no safe paths to warriorhood. So they become simply active. the dizzying dive to the end of the rope. Gangs are a contradictory and „imagined‟ communities whose members are young men (and less often young women) who have newly reached the age of sexual maturity but do not live in a culture which provides them with any ritual pathways for becoming sexually active.These are feelings deeply yearned by young people but seldom attained in Western and westernised adolescence. no effective fathers who understand what it is they are being asked. The sudden addition of the enlarged brain to the equipment of an armed already-successful predatory animal created not only the human being but also the human predicament. a rite of passage through the hallways and rooms of the enemy into the bosom of the admiring gang. Robert Ardrey. A gang is a group of young men with no older men around them. Through a dual process of differentiation and alignment. The search for „respect‟ in the crossing to adulthood takes on larger-than-life proportions. And in this atmosphere violence is high. a fighter or a knight it is possible that he is replaced with demons. absent during the day. In hard stony ground. In this environment ritual occasions are fraught with perils because the aggressive impulses of human beings are accompanied by very few restraints perhaps none at all except those few maintained by a culture deeply divided by apartheid and poverty. This absence has many causes. the youths break their ties of childhood which bonds them to their . Not receiving any blessing from your father is an injury and. peer admiration is the only form around. returns home at six. as Rob ert Moor has said: „If you‟re a young man and you‟re not being admired by an older man. has argued: Man is a predator whose natural instinct is to kill with a weapon. very often. Ganging as a rite of passage Fathers are important. Western education and values have difficulty in leading boys towards manhood. On the volatile streets of the ghettos there is an ever-present danger that aggressions usually held in check by social pressure may come free. Having abandoned initiation.. but the love unit most damaged by the Industrial Revolution has been the father-son bond. no old men to welcome them into the ancient. One is the destruction of the older inner-city suburbs and their „stoep culture‟ of older people (in the hard new suburbs without verandas one was either inside or out on the street). it can seem a trackless waste. But there are deeper reasons: When a father. In the absence of learned moral codes and social restraints and we are a creature which kills.his interior warriors will be killed off early. arrest. When their situation is complicated by poverty. . invaded. In this atmosphere police attention... disappointed and paralysed for years and years. In the desperation of the streets.I think it‟s likely that the early death of a man‟s warriors keeps the boy in him from growing up. rituals take on a life-or-death quality. In Bly‟s words: When a boy grows up in a „dysfunctional‟ family... instinctive male world and.. lashes or prison become the dangers of the hunt. Youngsters have no magic rituals. in a book called African Genesis. his children receive only his temperament and not his teaching. you‟re being hurt‟. liminality and reintegration. When a son does not see his father as a hero. And when mothers spend long hours away from home similar absences may appear in a daughter‟s psyche.
guns or styles of fighting. Every time I hear a gun shot I imagine that it is me standing with a gun in my hand. due the group‟s criminal associatio ns. or „some one shooting a gun‟. Or they talk about different guns: 22‟s. seems unexpected: They told me they would leave me and if I am in trouble then I would have to sort it out by myself . According to one gang member. One boy explained: You see there are different styles of how you can handle a gun . It is a particular argot specifically used by gang youths to differentiate between those who are a part of the normal or gang community. or „two gang members pairing up together to go and make trouble . „the community labeled me a gangster because I always stood at the entrance of the shop with my friends‟.. They describe all their close shaves. I just want to take out the guns and shoot like the cowboys. Language Language is one of the most distinctive features of a gang disposition.> It was nice to hear the sound of the gun in the gang fight. Along with this the gang youths had a particular style of expression. adopting a style of talking. They also engage in extensive explanations of their different styles of fighting and how one gang can be identified by their particular technique. the extreme rejection. It makes the enemy scared and it makes you feel brave when you see the enemy running from you.some will do anything to get me out of the community.when I got into trouble I went to them and they told me I have to bear the consequences. It can begin from the moment a youth flashes his first gang sign. the patterns of fighting is a way of differentiating themselves from competing gangs. Another boy commented: „I felt the community turned against me and I could not understand because I grew up in front of them . Central to this language is the gun: The nicest thing about the gang is the sound of the gun. Disposition Due to the „delinquent‟ nature of an adolescent group such as a gang. That is why the Americans are so powerful. both desired by the youth and startling. in for the kill. 58‟s and how one makes the sound „buff‟ and another „boof‟. This disposition involved a performance of both macho and belonging that manifested in both language and action. They do this by acquiring a gang disposition . The stories are about battles. to stand with a gun in my hand. The response of the family to the child‟s association with a gang is. in a sense. demonstrating their toughness and daring. Although it is partly informed by the youths desire for independence. to go out in the night and walk with a gun to shoot someone. I don‟t want to have to cock the gun . a way of exalting „their‟ side and glorifying the hunt. .<$F Subject C.I just thought it would be fun to join a gang. posturing on the street corner.called „coupling‟. not only in spoken language. That was my only wish before I was a gangster. We surround our enemy and send two without guns to go and look for the enemy. For example there are hand signs that express „someone running away in a gang fight‟. Unlike traditional societies where the breaking of childhood bonds may be exalted in a formal ceremony. or the amount of damage they cause. the child‟s mere associati on with the group is enough to spark off the process of separation. The Americans don‟t fight in the daylight. shouting „bang! bang! bang!‟ with great elation.. Being labeled a gang member has severely negative connotations.adult (and very often female) community by trying to gain acceptance into the adolescent group. in the ghetto streets it is a more gradual process of assimilation of gang disposition: conforming to certain gang criteria. mobilising around certain territories and around certain real and imaginary symbols. The gang youths favourite topic of conversation is about gang fights. In a sense. We fight at night and split our team into groups of three or four. When they find the enemy they start running and the rest of us come out with the guns. They had a way of visually expressing events. but in their use of certain signs and hand signals to describe events.for instance if I have two 16-shooters (on the front hips). According to one youth from the Americans gang: Each gang has got his own way of fighting.
the six white stripes of the flag are for the clean work (money) and the seven red stripes for the dirty work (blood). hidden tattoos on their necks and arms. The only overt visual signals appeared to be facial recognition. how they like to make people run and how all they want to do is go out and shoot someone are rituals of entrance. Their behaviour became very affected. as usual. outside was public. baseball caps. I broke my mother heart to please my friends. There were a few visual signs and symbols which were definitive of certain gangs. I was born free. Many of the sayings have a fatalistic acknowledgement of their position in life and a cynical view of themselves: I want them [his gang] to be losers. prowling around. and displaying themselves to the community. its own salute and its own mottoes. There the leader‟s mother was boss. Many of these devices remain a secret. outside they were boss. or simply by the territories from which they came. They slightly cold-shouldered me in front of the youths walking by. telling a story. The Americans were the gang which had most obviously clothed itself with various symbols. but mostly the indicators were imaginary or constructed stories of belonging. Their talk about how they love the sound of guns. Even though most gangs have adopted an „American‟ style with the latest Nikes or Reeboks. and for a woman. seemed quite different inside their leader‟s house. These displays of belonging are affected performances to appear tough. baggy pants and leather jackets. But still the winners of my pride. the group was on edge and there was an element of unpredictability. The 14 stars are the states in America. Cape Town. talking to someone. jeering at the pretty girls. hard. A group of school kids came out for their lunch break and walked passed us. The gangs also have sayings and mottoes that mark off symbolic difference such as „When two killers meet one must die‟. . and dangerous. on the corner with the gang.There are also hand signs for stabbing someone. as a symbol of the American nation. Outside the performance began the moment they became aware of being in the public eye. They simply appeared to be a group of friends laughing. borrowing and transforming existing devices and icons. there was no particular style or colour theme that separated one gang from another. Ritual symbols and identity Mobilising around visual or even imaginary symbols parallels gang identification through territory and serves to differentiate one gang from another. checking out the scene. inside was private. Posturing on the Street Corner Gang disposition also develops on the street corner where ghetto youths spend most of their time „hanging out‟ on their turf. The atmosphere changed. Around these symbols they have also constructed stories and mythical histories that function as a secret entrance ritual. This gang. sweatshirts. Within the house little defined them as a gang. Born to Kill. Within seconds the whole gang seemed to mobilise into a performance process. The American flag. joking and spending time together. Both the flag and the Statue of Liberty are used to define a territory around which the gang can mobilise and their territory is marked by elaborate graffiti of the statue and the American eagle. and strutting around. The following note was jotted down during observation: At home base. But not to stay free. and one of the stars represents the gang. known only to those who „belong‟. friends are few. Each gang had it‟s special rules. having sex. Language expresses the relationship to both the community and the gang. acquiring a macho disposition. According to its members. defined the „American‟ gang‟s territory: The gang actually call their territory „America‟. Born to lose When days are dark. The youths under study were not visually distinctive. displaying their identity with the group. The street corner is a site of public display. the Americans in Manenberg. The 13 stripes together stand for the 13 presidents of the United States.
there were 13 presidents sitting around the table. they construct secret myths known only to those who belong to the gang. the fourth you won‟t betray your friends. you do it yourself and if so you must die with them. or John Frank Kennedy. a cabinet. „Nothing binds a group so tightly as a closely held secret‟. the second discipline. The Statue of Liberty is a lady with a snow-white cloak. According to the South African Police Service Gang Unit. the American gang‟s use of the symbols of America mobilised caused other gangs to appropriate flags of national territories. Their motto is: „In God we Trust. They have an imaginary constitution. the fifth you dress well day and night [he could not remember the last two]. .if we fight amongst ourselves what kind of impression will that give of the gang like if I fight with another guy in the gang and members of another gang come past and say: „Look a Dixi boy is fighting against his brother‟. stripes and dollar signs. These function as entrance rituals. Some gangs also have their own imaginary „book of knowledge‟ similar to prison gangs. such as dollar signs. Through this they believed they were different to the American gang. So the performance on the street corner also seems to be a performance of ownership as well as one of belonging. we have to stay together.The gang name . a White House and they count their money in „dollars‟. The issue of respect constantly arises: we must respect one another . Territory defines clearly to the community who belongs to the group and who owns a particular neighbourhood or street corner. Another opposition gang called the Hard Livings live by the motto of „rather wisdom than gold‟ and come under the British flag. some with precious stones. These stories add another layer to the territory over which the gang has taken possession and knowing them deepens the separation from the adult world. I walked on the seven red-lined carpet and met another two guys and showed them my passport. Two people come to ask who you are and what you want. If not others will kill you for not helping your brother. six were busy counting money [six white lines on the flag]. That is your passport to enter the White House.tomorrow they could come and see us still fighting and they will bring guns and shoot us .then all we can say is we fought against each other but we didn‟t see the enemy come from behind. and strips. Juwele Frank Crone. Part of the litany is as follows: When I joined the Americans I found myself in a snow white road where I walked on a thin red line. The Statue of Liberty was a lady with a seven-point crown on her head. Then you kill the eagle and take the dollar and go to the White House. and seven wiped the blood from the money [seven red lines]. The Americans also implant various gold symbols. stars. a president. To quote David Cohen. Join the Force of Killers. Kindness. except they believed they came under the eagle of America as opposed to the Statue of Liberty. You meet with a eagle. The first one means respect. We have to die together. Then I went in a room with a seven-point table. in their front teeth. many supposedly stolen and some specially made with the stars. I showed them the dollar sign and In God we Trust and they left me and that was my passport into the White House. A member of Junky Funky Kids (JFKs) explained that his gang fell under the symbols of America. Territoriality Acceptance of gang boundaries is central to gaining acceptance into a gang. This often necessitates gang fights to defend or appropriate territory. Each point of the crown has a meaning. in his claws is a dollar and on the dollar you also find In God we Trust. Knowledge of this „book‟ is a part of the gangs entrance ritual and defines the way youths are supposed to conduct their lives once a part of the gang: In the book of knowledge we don‟t run away from each other if we are in trouble. JFKs could either stand for. They believed they were enemies with the American gang because it was an American who killed John Frank Kennedy. These territories often cover no more than a hundred-metre strip of residence blocks or four to five streets. three to four on each finger. In money we believe‟. Some members wear an excessive number of gold rings. Freedom. They call themselves The Chosen Ones. No one tells you to become an American. These flags have also taken on special meaning and defining myths. Junky Funky Kid.the Americans . „Turf‟ is a powerful way of bonding the group. Justice. such as the Statue of Liberty. Into the symbols of America.stands for „Almighty Equal Rights Is Coming And Not Standing‟. the third you won‟t lie on your stomach when you go to prison. in her right hand is a torch and in her left a Bible which says In God we Trust. This was given as the primary reason for their antagonism with the Americans. They will get a bad impression .
„I only kill my enemy. So while one group assumes ownership over a boy. Most acts of bravery that attempt to prove manhood. Gang youth who were interviewed relished the belief that they invoked fear in rival gangs. their buddies or their enemies: The big gangsters stand in the front line because they are the ones that are the most hated and the most feared by the enemy . liminality marks the beginning of „free fall‟. whether it comes in the form of bullet wounds. posturing with other members of the gang. signifying his bravery and ability to perform in the face of danger. It can range from short brief confrontations between a few members to full-scale gang wars. . A similar ownership is assumed over women. Personal performance is finely measured. Now freed from adult restriction. and secondly it is important to be marked by the opposing gang as a ruthless and dangerous enemy. The more wanted and feared they were by rival gangs. The aim is to be „talked about‟ by their own and rival gangs. not people who want to live in peace. in the absence of any guidance from older members of society. Battle generally happens when rivalry occurs between gangs over the issue of ownership regarding turf. Once the youth has gained acceptance he moves into a state of liminality. is defined by acquiring a gang disposition. a time and place when gang members are more conscious than ever of who is watching them: You build your reputation by showing people you‟re not afraid . Performance in Battle The battle-field is a pivotal space in gang life.Territoriality leads to certain expectations. Liminality In gangs.you get into to the front line if you are brave and if you are scared you go to the back <$F Subject D. another may try to put a bullet through his head. „other gangsters who were waiting there where I live. community. Conversely. a child living in an enemy‟s territory is marked out as enemy. The youth‟s main concern now shifts from gaining acceptance to gaining status in the gang. whenever they saw me they would chase me and shoot at me‟. I must shoot them so that people see that I‟m not afraid.like when there is a gang war and they attack me when I am standing alone with a gun. the battle-ground is an extension of the street-corner. Being seen and identified in gang fights is of particular importance in two respects: Firstly it shows warrior capacity and builds reputation. to be recognised and noticed by the community. In a sense. Separation. These scars accumulate on the young man‟s body. gang language. particularly that the boys who grow up in the gang‟s territory will become a part of their gang. also play a crucial role in attracting the opposite sex. At this point. Gang youths attempt to display both a fearless demeanour and warlike capacity. he exists in a world of betwixt and between and is required to test his young manhood and build his reputation through performances of bravery and daring. demanding excesses which place the youth temporarily or permanently . Excess is praised. therefore. acquire visual scars of their bravery and boast of their deadly accuracy. These are a visible sign of a youth‟s allegiance to his new „deviant‟ group and a warning to others. what is conventionally unacceptable becomes acceptable and the thread joining them to conventional morality becomes increasingly severed. According to one youth. This forces a young boy to go to extreme s which adolescents in more „normal‟ peer groups would not. Enemies „deserve‟ to die. These excesses range from full-scale gang fights and organised criminal activity to the first serious assault or kill. According to one youngster. women or markets. Body mutilations Another indication of liminal behaviour is body mutilation.beyond social recall. But this had a sinister edge. The key motivation for the individuals seems to be „acceptance‟. subverting inhibitions against murder. According to this boy „when you are not afraid the girls like you‟ . stab wounds or teeth damage. adopting gang beliefs and customs and mobilising around specific territory. the greater status they acquired in their own gang.
The youth. And they can serve to ensure their exclusion from the community.ineradicable symbols of their membership to a deviant group.even when I try not to think about it just comes back and I feel scared. According to one youth: I thought about leaving the gang but then I asked myself what is the use because even if the enemies know I am not a part of this gang they will still want to kill me because I have killed their brothers. He was introduced as „this one who has five bullet wounds‟. The confusion and lack of clarity that defines this stage of their lives leads the young man to engage in excessive behaviour without seeming to realise it. Confusion between reality and fantasy In the absence of formal initiation. These scars and markings can make individuals permanent members of a group and often plague the youths for the rest of their lives . describing his first kill.One can compare gang wounding to a traditional circumcision. It often seemed to be undertaken casually. I didn‟t want to run away because I know on TV the main guys don‟t run away so I just took out my gun and shouted „mutha fucker‟ and „don‟t fuck with the OJs‟. paradoxically. Youths seem to get swept up in the fantasy world of dreams. The purpose is the same: a „sign of union‟ and a mark of manhood. I started shooting at them and they ran away. movies (which they try to act out in real life) and wishful thinking: When we go fight with the Americans I just imagine I am in a film. Although this was not overtly defined it was an unspoken and assumed requirement. aren‟t you gangsters?‟ If they run they don‟t realise they become an easy target for us.I can‟t sleep at night . but it was a traumatic ordeal which came back to haunt them in their dreams. recounted: We were sitting in a group and someone mentioned that there was a problem that needed to be sorted out but no one tells you to go and kill someone. The one thing is when I sleep at night this event always comes to my mind . One youth. Killing is the moment when being labelled an enemy takes on its full and permanent form. Many gang youths who leave gangs have been found later dead in a gutter . The last gang fight I was in. community support or hope of a normal life. And. First Kill The moment that marks the youth‟s final and absolute break from the norms of convention is his first kill. it is the single act which differentiates between those gang members on the periphery and those of the inner circle and it marks the first real test of endurance. gets drawn into the cycle of revenge killings..if they have any at all. It is a moment when a boy shows other members of his gang how deeply he is prepared to become committed to gang life. And their confusion is evident: . The pictures they paint of themselves are eventually what they become. He was greatly praised by all for his warlike and fearsome spirit. I was sitting in some other peoples yard waiting for him to come home. So I decided to take the gun because I wanted to show the other members that I can also do it. some Americans came down the same road as us and we just started shooting at them. according to the unforgiving ethics of gang life. particular detail and attention given to the one that hit him between the eyes and ricocheted off his Rayban glasses. confusion emerges between reality and fantasy. An insert from our field notes is illustrative here: Chaka strutted in. All the gang youths encountered were required directly or indirectly to make their first kill.either at the hand of their former comrades or because they have forfeited gang protection and are now fair game for other gangs.that is the same as it is on the films. is a label which will follow the youths to their graves. „Enemy‟. or to Dinka face scarring.I went to kill this American. If people are watching us through the windows we point the gun at them and ask them what they are looking at . I ran after them and shouted: „Why are you running away. Caught between fantasy and reality it becomes questionable where their limits lie . their attempt to gain status and respect through criminal acts of violence denies what they seek: as their reputation goes up in the gang it goes down in the community. now head-hunted by rival gangs. When he came home I shot him twice in his legs but both bullets went right through his legs into a cabin and they killed someone else. you must decide on your own.. obviously considered by the rest of the group to be quite a warrior. We just shot them.
killing mindlessly. We urgently need to ask where we derive our understandings of these processes and whether they are still appropriate. They are all young warriors. Eternal Liminality By now the young man is almost inevitably destined for a permanent career of crime. We all went for him and he ran into the toilet in his house. What may have started as a need for ritual orientation in a period of adolescent crisis has developed into a greased pole of deviance. greeting us with HO$H! [FA greeting used by the Americans to each other] That was the biggest mistake he ever made.if the police get information about a murder two or three years back the gang will think I gave the information to the police and they will come to get me. At this stage his peers have become his father and his wise men. The words of an adolescent in this deep are chilling in their callousness: One day quite a few of us Mongrels decided to go and look for trouble in American territory. another man is a madman soldier. Me and another Mongrel friend were the last to kill him . to get drunk and fight each other you can get drunk and have a nice time but we must respect one another. dropping napalm over entire villages.then another guy came and finished him off with a „pum pum‟ [uzi submachine -gun]. raping. attacking their houses.There are a lot of rules that define the important things you must always remember not to do. However. The prospects of ever leading a normal citizen‟s existence are difficult to imagine. We decided it is wrong: to rob people in our community. the action of gang members leads them implacably towards what might be termed „eternal liminality‟. Of these differences Robert Bly was to say: „One man is a self-sacrificing warrior fighting for a cause beyond himself. and cars. We covered our faces with red and white scarf‟s like the ones they use. At this stage gang youths have either a very short life expectancy or can bank on spending much of their lives in penal institutions. Instead we broke the door of the house down and the pregnant lady ran out. Everyone went in and started to stab him with the knives. The reasons for adolescents entering traditional and gang rights of passage stem from similar needs and dreams. According to one member: You can‟t just leave a gang because there are a lot of secrets that you share . You must respect the community. We had our weapons on us and covered ourselves in the stars and stripes flag. Life is defined by violence which knows no limits or regrets. Instead of incorporation back into the community. The similarities and differences between traditional rites of passage are best illustrated graphically (see overleaf). Someone in the group put a shotgun in the window to shoot him but saw a pregnant lady in the toilet and said „don‟t shoot!‟. pillaging. to swear at one another. because conventional discourse about youth at risk is couched in the binary of welfare and punishment. any discussion about new approaches to state-based youth programmes needs to first ask: what is punishment? The purpose of punishment It is essential to step back from entrenched judicial processes and punishments and to question the value of the way we deal with young people in conflict with the law. . I didn‟t feel anything . they are bound to the gang by terrible necessity.I just forgot about it. This one called Music Maker came out and made the American sign. whether it be knowledge of the dynamics of organised criminal activity or the murder of various members. But they emerge at opposite ends of the compass and with very different life expectancies. But both life-paths are deeply instructive in the construction of a youth justice system which works for young people and for society. Once the knowledge of a gang member becomes too extensive. We walked passed the Americans‟ flats and shouted „we were Americans‟.
The attractiveness of forward-looking theories is that they accept that we cannot change the past and that the best we can do is to seek to prevent similar wrongs in the future. There are a number of fundamental problems with this approach: Even if we grant that punishment should be in accordance with desert. This thesis has encouraged many reforms in prisons and a search for alternatives to incarceration. a legal system which assigns punishment in accordance with moral blame must unavoidably favour one view of morality over other competing views. Their goal is not moral improvement but the rehabilitation of offenders. Sentencing. no one concentrates on the fact that the man has done wrong in the past. If this is so. in this case. seems to assume that good can come of evil. in this case. someone else from doing wrong. but for the sake of the future. in the last resort. this view suggests. No. to prevent either the same man or. unless taking blind vengeance like a beast. Punishment to advance human welfare A reaction to retributive sentencing has been the argument that for punishment to be justified. maybe. as these vary widely for different cultures or individuals. or authorised force. The deliberate infliction of harm also does not accord with our moral intuitions which purport to form the basis of our legal system.the punishment should fit the crime. by some spectacle of his punishment. however. As Tony Marshal has pointed out. it does not follow that punishment is justified. „the morality of personal consequences has little impact on those who do not stop to consider consequence. Present sentences handed down to young people do little to reinforce morality. By assuming no necessary connection between law and morality. It also reduces respect for the law. it must be shown to advance human welfare. A real objection to officially sanctioned violence is its capacity to undermine the moral status of those against whom it is directed. And if a penalty is not allocated in relation to the offense but in the interests of deterrence. This position is nearly as old as the lex talionis and is well stated by Plato: In punishing wrongdoers. is an enforcement activity whose specific function is to promote individual reform and social protection. but ultimately with as much potential for violence as those it must restrain. There are no absolute or universal moral values or principles.even when it is deserved. While much criminal law involves the protection of individuals from acts of violence (violence being seen as immoral) it appears to justify acts of official violence in defense of moral principles and values. The principle of retribution does not explain why punishment should be inflicted on those who break rules. upon the use of force. In a multi-cultural society like South Africa. welfare-oriented approach which holds that the purpose of punishment is not to bring about moral reform but to reduce the likelihood that harmful behaviour will occur. does this not imply that . nor upon those who believe (often correctly) that the chance of avoiding such consequences is high‟. it should not be imposed . But it is not without problems in the formulation of a sentencing policy. Sentencing. it is difficult to judge what counts as normal or acceptable behaviour. When we set out to punish someone. It involves the deliberate infliction of harm and hard treatment of an offender. our goal is to inflict suffering or pain. This is what Harris has called a care/response to sentencing. Yet pain and suffering seem to be as close to things that are intrinsically evil as anything in our experience. Retributive punishment.Punishment as retribution The predominant view in our criminal justice system is that punishment is retributive: lex talionis. or punishes him on that account. relaying the message that the main reason for avoiding crime is its consequences for oneself rather than any a priori judgment of right or wrong or consideration of the consequences for others. Legitimate. In this view. Violence has a moral edge to it. is an enforcement activity whose specific function is to seek punishment for wrongs done. aiming at retribution in punishment would seem to require a kind of favouritism. Its distance from other social control mechanisms leaves the formal control system totally reliant. in fact they are probably counter-productive. punishment is not inflicted by a rational man for the sake of the crime that has been committed (after all one cannot undo what is past). criminal activity is a symptom of personal inadequacies. Where nothing is gained by punishment. and there is little proof that punitive actions change either people or society for the better. This is what Kay Harris calls the rights/justice orientation which links punishment with moral wrongdoing and social revenge. It is a forward-looking.
Indeed. Police are caught between unrepentant offenders. far-reaching proposals for new juvenile justice legislation which attempted to address these problems were made public in November 1994. fines. where Maori pressure led to the drafting of the Children. They suffered that others might desist. The conclusion here is that neither revenge nor public protection are adequate foundations for a theory of sentencing or punishment. at best. and calls for more punitive responses and longer sentences result in ever greater expense with no discernible effect upon the incidence of crime. There are no fathers or respected elders here. If this argument is good. Fiji and Canada.there might sometimes be justification for punishing someone who had committed no offense at all? The random arrests of low-level political activists in South Africa in the 1980s as a warning to those more politically involved is an example of this. judges and police who enjoy no intimate bond of care and mutual respect with the offender are liable to degrade and stigmatise. There is certainly no evidence that sentencing oriented towards putting offenders down or teaching harsh lessons or deterring through harsh sentences is effective. Restoring harmony The starting point of a new approach is to look at the relationship between the individual accused and the legal ceremony surrounding a social misdemeanour. and are themselves cynical of the process and often despondent about their capacity to deliver the service they have been trained to provide. community and family groups were enabled which would relocate youth justice to the group of people most meaningful to the young offender. they not only fail to prevent crime. were based on the ideas of restorative justice. he says. These proposals. dissatisfied victims and an unresponsive court system. whipping or imprisonment. the cost of the system to society at large is becoming massively greater. but have recently been taken up within former colonial countries where powerful cultural lobby groups have demanded appropriate justice and a return of legislative and personal control over their children. Attempts to solve these problems have older resonances in the Scottish hearings system. then it would seem that there is no way in principle or practice in which respect for individual freedom as well as respect for fundamental principles of justice can be accommodated within purely forward-looking theories of punishment. As CS Lewis has suggested. and finally kindnesses which no one but you will recognise as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties. The denunciations of prosecutors. „you start being „kind‟ to people before you have considered their rights and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which they in fact (once) had a right to refuse. are irrelevant and unconnected to the crime . find comfort and symbolic distance from his rejecters in the world of delinquent subculture. therefore. This implies that forward-looking accounts.and hence unlikely to lead to a change in offending behaviour because offenders are rarely obliged to confront the consequences of their actions. A pioneer in this field is New Zealand. What is required. is a new paradigm for dealing with young people who transgress the criminal law which recognises that in the present system: The formal sanctions imposed upon them by the courts. open the door to. where the offense and the punishment are not necessarily contingent. Young Persons and their Families Act in 1989. whether it is cautioning. in the worst scenario. Victims are deeply dissatisfied with the treatment they usually receive and are often left with feelings of helplessness and anger as a consequence of the crime perpetrated against them and the official response to it. When you replace justice with welfare. A particular problem in South African courts is that the procedure implies a judgment of the young accused and not of their actions. diversion and the . the young person is likely to reject his rejecters and. coercive rehabilitation and at worst to unjust punishment. Similar ideas have been developed in Australia. These approaches imply forms of coercion which simply lower the self-respect of the offender. As the crime rate grows. In terms of this Act. drafted by non-governmental organisations involved in juvenile justice. In South Africa. For this reason. they cause it through the symbolic effects of stigmatisation. it has been argued that when the institutions of the courtroom and the detention centre take this form. benevolence undisciplined by justice becomes a tyrant. hinder reintegration and increase disrespect for the law.
in this case. the function of criminal law would not be to solve conflicts but to seek to avoid them by prohibiting harmful behaviour and stepping in to provide protection from those unwilling to obey the law. This also implies a context which is meaningful to the young person and within which he or she wishes to be well regarded. as well as from processes which had emerged in other parts of the world. Select the more serious cases of crime for formal public punishment in order to fulfill the moral education functions of the criminal law. in this case. low crime societies are places where .centrality of the family and community in the lives of young people. if it is to be effective. This approach. esteem. The use of force. Coercion would not be ruled unacceptable. would be to demonstrate that the law was widely respected and to persuade people that the law should be obeyed. would not be oriented to punishment but to persuasion. be much harder for someone who is unemployable to see the benefit of laws prohibiting the sale of the drug mandrax than someone for whom health. But communication is a two-way process. The first task of law enforcement. for example. Central to the document‟s reconceptualisation of juvenile justice were the notions of stigma and shame. in this case. steering the ceremony away from a stigmatising preoccupation with the badness of the young person.as in rural areas people do not mind their own business. or the ability to find and hold a job or to afford accommodation. remove from individuals the right to choose not to obey the law and the right to use force in the resolution of disputes. would be a strategy for opening the lines of communication. Legal systems. The proper task of a sentencing authority. We need to accept the child and reject his behaviour. being victimcentred fosters shaming which is focused on specific deeds rather than on offenders themselves. To win compliance. restraint in the use of force and a range of sentencing options which have the potential to engender respect for the law. They incorporated understandings derived from traditional and popular forms of community justice. In other words. . and legislative process would have to attempt to ensure that sentences took these social contours into account. especially. by their nature. Step in when they fail. What should such a system be reasonably expected to deliver? It should. Such informal control would not be based on force but on the implications for the young person of committing an act unacceptable to those whom he respects. would be to formulate remedies appropriate to the harm caused by offenders with a view to assuring the public that continued confidence in the capacity of the law to fulfill its function is justified. from this perspective. The argument here is that crime is best controlled when members of the community are the primary controllers through active participation in dealing with offenders and reintegrating them back into the community of law abiding citizens. would provide a tough challenge to the criminal justice system and would be unlikely to be a soft option for offenders. Such an approach would subscribe to a minimum use of force. Sentencing and correction. at minimum. and Underwrite the legitimacy of community controls by showing that the state backed them up with severe deterrence when they were snubbed. Penalties for juveniles. For this reason it is sensible to locate control of young offenders in the community. All are not equal before the law. association. wealth and security is a real option. would involve acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to live in a modern world. Essentially. Rehabilitation. and such an approach would have to take into account the context of the young offender. The role of government in this case would be to: Audit the effectiveness of these community controls. would carry an ambiguous message in that it would demonstrate that the law is not respected. where tolerance of deviance has definite limits and where communities prefer to handle their own crime problems rather than hand them over to professionals. but a means towards ensuring the peaceful resolution of conflict. It could not assume that all people had the basic life skills such as reading or writing. defined as restorative justice. But this carries with it an obligation to reduce the morally justifiable recourse of state officials to the free use of force in the resolution of disputes. ensure voluntary compliance. It would. The focus would be on the act itself and the problems it has caused for the victim. It assumes that individuals are dependent to a degree on social relations for economic support. In this approach. the law would have to respond to the reasons people had for committing offenses. It would simply not be the first resort. security and affection (the existence of society itself is predicated on such an assumption).
of course. the misery of unimportance and loss of self-esteem and selfcontrol. punitive. Two Xhosa expressions capture this. be a response to wrongdoing. To do this it is necessary to recognise that reconciliation is not just admitting guilt. To quote Michael Foucault: „To find the suitable punishment for a crime is to find the disadvantage whose idea is such that it robs forever the idea of a crime of any attraction. independence and generosity. It is a matter of repudiating the values or attitudes that led to an offence and showing a willingness to compensate for harm done. maintaining balanced ecological relationships is a way of ensuring that one‟s own life is itself balanced.with fire perhaps . And in this context they should be restorative. Humans are social creatures and belonging is the baseline from which personality develops. incompetence. But it also involves finding ways to mobilise adventurous spirit.„a person is a person through other people‟. We also have to realise that within the tough delinquent exterior is a need to play . Building young people In their book Reclaiming youth at risk. they should be central to initiatives to divert young people out of the formal justice system.significance. using Native American principles as a framework. we need to reconceptualize punishment itself. building a support system and the actual programme process. making reconciliation and social harmony within the family and community the cornerstones of the system. Rites of passage programmes need not. satisfy the deep need young people have for ritual. This understanding involves an awareness of unmet needs. plants and the environment. Brendto et al caution us that „nothing we know about the human animal suggests that we have been programmed to be obedient‟. They should be closely tied to the community.can easily be discerned in gang behaviour). (A search for the inverse of these feelings . In adolescence this can lead to feelings of insignificance. inexpensive. emotionally powerful experiences involving meaningful rituals of transformation. but would be kept under control by being embedded within the daily network of a number of other people who were of importance to the young person. they should be supported by the judiciary and all other state role-players. In traditional societies this sense of belonging extends beyond the human circle to animals. competence. especially older people of influence and they should ensure some level of commitment from the young people concerned. and the other is the saying „all children are my children‟. expensive and seen as a soft option. There are better ways to change adolescent behaviour than demanding compliance and we need to move beyond labeling deviants negatively to an understanding of what it is that captures and holds adolescent attention. power and virtue .older male mentors.The goal would be to tie potential and actual young offenders back into a web of social relations where an unexpected move would result in a magnitude of subtle countermoves. This section of the paper will focus on three areas we consider to be important in programme design within this framework: Building the young people themselves.but also with the world to see what it will answer. discouragement. tough. Deviant behaviour would not necessarily be seen as deviance or called deviance. powerlessness and unworthiness. In peasant society.‟ Programmes as ritual The preceding discussion suggests a certain degree of prescription in designing appropriate programmes for teenagers at risk. Bendtro et al.in the case of young boys . mastery. It is the basis of individual worth in most societies (and education systems) and if young people are deprived of the chance or ability to master . magical. Fostering self esteem is critical to working with young people at risk. increase their personal social resilience and create meaningful bonds with significant adults. But if they are. One is the notion of ubuntu . bureaucratic. Essentially. suggest that any programme to re-establish self esteem should involve the notions of belonging. Mastery involves social and physical competence and opportunities for success. particularly . Importantly. Its loss can begin with something as small as a sarcastic cut-down from a parent or as large as the collapse of the social support unit. It is also self-evident that they should not be superficial.
. Initiatory rebirth Whatever form they take. marriage. The steps to mastery are as old as they are modern.. in that the purpose of any external discipline and support is to build inner discipline and social worth. Nsenga Warfield-Coppock sees these steps as being birth. Brendtro et al suggest that self worth is also derived from how one is viewed by others. . puberty.Second. these rituals involve an educational experience which takes place within family or community space and with the participation of adults known and trusted by the young people. Building a support system Rites of passage are traditionally a source of social learning and an inoculation against wrongdoing. apprenticeship to a hurricane energy such as.. In Egyptian teachings for priesthood young students were required to seek: Control of thought. Freedom from resentment under wrong. personal power. Bly finds these steps to be: First. Young people who lack a sense of power over their own behaviour and environment often lack motivation and seek alternative sources of power through dependence on chemicals or membership in a youth subculture. Young people cannot develop a sense of responsibility unless they have been responsible to others.. the purpose of this form of education is to transmit from one generation to the next the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the society. For this reason.unless they avoid emotional superficiality and build significance. independence and generosity . Freedom from resentment under persecution. Faith in oneself to wield the truth. Ability to distinguish real from unreal The spirit of independence is the product of both mastery and belonging.the warrior. Many studies have shown how migration from rural areas and inner-city relocations under the Group Areas Act first eroded extended family .their lives they retreat into helplessness and inferiority. Within an African American tradition. who helps a man rebuild the bridge to his own. Together with the industrial work-cycle these factors have placed severe strains on parents and significant elders in communities and reduced the amount of support available for adolescents. mastery. Adolescent rituals he sees as comprising: Preparation of sacred ground.. If programmes for young people do not have as their goal the development of positive characteristics such as a sense of belonging. Separation from the mother.then nuclear family . Ability to distinguish right from wrong.. self esteem and self control they will not change the attitudes of young people and will probably fail. eldership and death.Fourth. the arrival of the male mother. Control of action.. From within Western tradition.. bonding with the father and separation from the father. but are generally seen as being linear and orderly. Faith in the Master‟s ability to teach the truth. or the mentor..networks and traditions. and to prepare the young people for their future membership of the society and their active participation in its maintenance and development. Faith in one‟s ability to assimilate the truth. Initiatory ordeals. To quote Tanzanian leader Juilius Nyerere.. bonding with the mother and separation from the mother. Generosity allows them to „de-centre‟ and contribute to those around them in a self-affirming way. These views highlight the importance of older people and kin in the initiatory process. being committed to the positive value of generosity and caring for others improves ones view of oneself through the eyes of others.Third. Symbolic initiatory death.and fifth the marriage with the Holy Woman. They are conceptualised in many ways.
religious leaders. without ritual. These suggestions imply ways of dealing with adolescents in the community which are both ancient and innovative. demons. identity or situation to another. the latter re-creating only part of more formal ceremonies. depending on the young people and community involved. resource people. love. The agencies with which ritual is concerned. teaching and basic physical requirements as well as for experiences of trust. This implies a vehicle for transformation from one status. liaison. These need not be „tribal‟ or retrogres sive groupings. of society. ancestors and other spirits that may be called „supernatural‟. undergirding family and school support and building trust and discipline. mentor. from a ritual guide and teacher in a rites of passage programme through the more formal roles of probation officer to a community buddy in a parole programme. but our attempt here is to form a gantry of essential procedures necessary for its success. It may be that. but they may also be certain powers of nature. community and programme leaders. A re-valuation of old people in communities would be a powerful and progressive step towards re-balancing the lives of young people at risk. are such that they may be represented symbolically if they are to be depicted at all. specialised skills and a positive character to share‟. in the development of programmes for young people at risk. Warfield-Coppock defines a mentor as „a person who is designated by a group or the community and assumes the responsibility of guiding and teaching another‟. Such a programme would differ in form. or would be so in a different way. Tom Driver provides a useful starting point for ritual programme development: A ritual is a performance that invokes the presence and action of powers which. Mentors should be of good character and the same gender as the young person. There is a continuum of roles for mentors. They are the trunk of the spreading tree. The biggest challenge of any rites of passage programme is to recreate adult and mentor support structures. Building what we do We have established that adolescents respond powerfully to ritual and performance and abhor superficiality. and such a call for help would not only restore the self-respect of a presently marginalised sector of society but would probably provoke an enthusiastic response. customs and spiritual traditions. are divinities. spiritual and historical mediators and teachers. history. then. city life has increased the need young people have for support. protection. teacher. These tasks and the need for adult training in adolescent work point to the need for a national Mentorship Programme incorporating parents. to go back to tradition is the first step forward. often with disastrous social consequences. Ritual or symbolic performance in a rite of passage programme might better be described as transformance. culture. as leader. discipline. There is awesome power in relationships which work. A comparison of this procedure for young men looks like this: Traditional Gang . We have seen that in the absence of this support young people create their own support structures and rituals. And older people have what parents generally don‟t: time for youngsters. of the state. or of the psyche. This person is one who has „successfully navigated and attained adulthood and is deemed someone who has specific knowledge. facilitator. They would have the task of transmitting something of value to the new generation. curriculum writer. would not be present or active at that time and place. assistance. teachers. often acting as a surrogate father or mother. sponsor and elder. An old African proverb says it takes a whole village to raise a child. In modern times it will take a whole community to heal one. One of the greatest causes of cultural anomie among young people has not been the absence of good parenting but the absence of good grandparenting. In the development of programmes for youth at risk there is a need for adults to serve in many roles. There is also a good argument for the formation of community Councils of Elders attached to the Mentorship Programme. We have discussed Xhosa and gang rites of passage rituals. All communities have within them older people whose life experiences qualify them to act as cultural. They would have to be people known to the community and any recruiting programme should include rigorous psychological and social selection filters.Simultaneously. speaker. sport and outdoor education. elders and those who have specialised skills in a range of areas such as martial arts. values. The most obvious examples of such powers. In his book The magic of ritual. no doubt.
Vision quest. Making relatives .and should link to . initiatory procedures and spiritual and temporal teaching which are required in a rites of passage programme. foster care. . These resonate with . action and community. In terms of the programme. shelters. The parameters of this paper. in the mountains. Social acknowledgement and ceremonies are grouped as Water/Community and comprise peer. the vision quest experience or „going solo‟ and the actual place where the young people will gather and call their own. and sustains periods of fasting and going without water while they contemplate who they are and where they are going in life. learning. processes are conceptualised under the corresponding notions of place.training for a form of warriorhood (such as martial arts) and the actual induction process. a clubhouse movement and more on-going wilderness experiences. community service work. air. however. But the rites and rituals of adolescent transformation are essential to all young people and it would be wrong to require youths to offend in order to qualify for a significant and life-affirming experience. Rites of passage programmes are being suggested here as a diversion option for young people who have fallen foul of the law. These include the wilderness experience. Beyond the rite itself. Earth/Place represents the sites and physical situations in which the rites of passage take place. WHEEL GRAPHIC HERE Based on the four ritual orientations of earth. involves those parts of a rites of passage programme where action is taken . public and kinship ceremonies as well as elder involvement and mentoring. These situations connect with longer programmes and more permanent places such as holding centres. emotional and mental support programmes. vocational training.Acknowledging ancestors/community history Absent Elder permission Absent Induction through awe/fear Induction through awe/fear Sacred ground Territory Peer ceremonies Peer ceremonies Public ceremonies Absent Initiatory death Dicing with death Surviving battles with self Surviving battles with gangs Solo time and introspection Discouraged Warriorhood Warriorhood Scarring Scarring Community acceptance Community rejection Acceptance of older teachers Father/adult anger Rites or re-incorporating Eternal liminality Not included in these rituals are several from Native American culture which are instructive: Sweat-lodge purification. but the linkages and support structures for this process are represented below. shoplifter awareness and substance abuse treatment.more aggregate programmes such as parenting education. What has been suggested in proposals for a new Juvenile Justice Act are Family Group Conferences as a way of relocating youth justice issues back to communities and families. are narrowly focused on those who offend and require attention. These link with more formal programmes such as victim awareness. The forth quadrant. Youth Brigades (an important idea which needs urgent attention in South Africa). the preparation of sacred ground. information centres and formal education. this connects with recreational programmes.a ritual for creating kinship-like bonds with friends or elders. counseling. Such a programme would require intensive discussion at community level.following the Sweat Lodge ritual a person embarks upon a journey into the wilderness.a spiritual cleansing which allows renewed closeness to the Earth. crisis intervention. mediation services. gang programmes. sex offender treatment programmes. life skills training. fire and water. behaviour management and parts of wilderness courses. These conferences would be an important starting point in the development of a rites of passage programme. Air/Learning represents rituals. rites. Fire/Action.
west or earth. it was clear that they were very insecure in adult company. which consisted of the following: A selection process and meeting of welcome between youths. let alone an adult. abseiled down cliffs and canoed down rivers. A welcoming ceremony was planned which attempted to draw in as many important members of the community as possible (for various reasons this was smaller than hoped). The creation of a Club House as a base for the youths over the following year. south. But at root they celebrate death and rebirth. together with their mastery of the tough environment as they climbed mountains. This led to great anger and fear. This last is very important and should be built into various phases throughout the year . The results of this and other similar pilot studies can be found elsewhere. A councilor available for mediation and support at personal and social crisis points.say north. My guidelines for the ceremony were as follows: Can we get the community.particularly at times when they were physically exhausted from their exertions and more vulnerable. What we are trying to do is to allow that label. east. the parents and important symbolic eaders to go out of their way for these kids? And who are those symbolic leaders? The ceremony should have a particular format which should be kept secret from the youths. destined for prison. but what is important here are some of the ideas around which the programme was constructed. fire water.If the passage of a young person passing through courts to jail can be termed a Fa ilure‟s Journey. A two-week wilderness experience involving strenuous physical and emotional activities. Most traditional rites of passage work on the basis of four orientations . what is being suggested here is the opposite: a Hero‟s Journey. that the most damaging thing that happens to them is negative labeling. They were selected by Nicro and the Department of Welfare and discussions took place with them and their parents (where these could be found).but at the welcoming ceremony it needs to be the foremost thing. their parents. course co-ordinators and mentors. forthcoming 1996. Life and job skills programmes run at the Club House. Several important guidelines emerged from discussions which established the programme and from the early phases of the programme itself: Stories When the young people joined the programme. The path of this journey could be depicted as follows. All agreed to go on the programme. that stigma.<$F Nicro National. A community welcoming ceremony for the youths when they returned from the wilderness. They had probably never shared their feelings and their life stories with anyone. SMALL CIRCLE IN HERE Stitching these ideas together into a youth at risk programme first took place in South Africa in late 1995 when 20 young men were put forward for a year-long pilot study on the use of rites of passage. but also to a sense of achievement which they had seldom. their self-confidence increased rapidly within two weeks. probably. Because of these talk-sessions. air. At the time of writing these pilot projects were still in progress. Physical challenge During the wilderness experience the young people were physically challenged beyond all previous experience. if ever. called The Journey. particularly with tough youths like these. The reason is.> The youths were at „at risk‟. had before. The training of the youths to mentor the next group of boys after the year‟s programme ends. During the wilderness experience they were encouraged to share their stories . to die and have the community indicate that . some in a place of safety awaiting trial and most. The welcoming ceremony The young people had probably never been affirmed by adults during their time of adolescence.
It‟s not the act. then to the rest of the gathering. what new names they might like to consider for each other and what they would call their group. learning through experience was seen as essential to the programme. Kurt Hahn. Fire . Conventional punishments tend to deaden emotion in young people (other than anger) whereas a rite of passage programme works with emotion as a central ingredient. By way of conclusion What has been suggested above are experiments and conceptual categories . But a compelling moment may be produced by one or two really big Guy Fawkes rockets. Afterwards the young men should be encouraged to form circles and share or enact their stories of the wilderness experience with adults and friends who are present.and the presentation of a new skin . Experiential education In both the wilderness experience and in the choice of a club house. that‟s important.The washing of the face masks could be part of a water ceremony. the kind which create a huge whump and mushroom a huge canopy of fire over the people. first to the youngsters to sip. Facial mud may work just as well .particularly from the city . particularly.Xhosa youths are covered in mud which is washed of during the ceremony. themselves. or if they brought something from their past which symbolised what they wanted to leave behind and burned it. A comparison between emotional impact of imprisonment and The Journey experience can be illustrated graphically: The power of names Names in ritual space have powerful transformative qualities.in this case perhaps track shoes and T-shirts. Wilderness has the added value of inducing a fear which is possible to overcome but which sharpens attention while it lasts.highly painted mud masks which are washed off during the water ceremony. Water .The sense of renewal is often created by a ritual burning of the outer skin . The above programme was named The Journey and not a „programme‟ for this reason. on the basis of the wilderness experience. This is particularly important for boys who are victims of cultural attitudes eschewing emotion. said of experience: „It is a sin of the soul to force young people into opinions .indoctrination is of the devil . names are the cement for mental health and power and influence can be particularly seen in gang usage. planting or covering with earth. the founder of Outward Bound.out of their usual frame of thinking and acting. but what it symbolises. The emotional impact of ceremony is important because it resonates with deeper feelings of self-worth. This is essentially a de-labeling ceremony and is our best chance to end recidivism. They. Often air is symbolised by singing. no substitute for . in the end.they acknowledge this and grant that the young men are reborn.the beginnings of a map which would require considerable discussion and planning to actualise. It suggests a new.the clothes . But more powerful would be the handing round of a flagon of blessed (or in some way magically-charged) water. Air . culturally sensitive. Older Western traditions involve burying. The ceremony should avoid any superficiality and should involve the following orientations: Earth. as in many others. It would be ritually powerful if the young men burned their old clothes before receiving the new. Central to experiential education is finding older people who have something to teach and younger people who are appropriate role-models for youth at risk. Sometimes snake symbolism is used for obvious reasons. were asked to consider. In African culture.This the most difficult. There is. approach to diversion work.but it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experiences‟. The safe house was called a Club House and the young people were encouraged to find a name for it. Wild surroundings. have a transformative effect on people and serve to jog young people .
. communities and the collective wisdom of our many cultures are seen as central to this support then all young people are at risk. importantly for the many young men at risk.. or wash pistons in gasoline. And many if not most . or repair ploughs. And at the outer edge are those who do not have any support systems. to express and resolve. What is being suggested in this paper underwrites an extensive re-evaluation of what it is that our collective national cultures wish to teach our children. as they repair arrowheads. through frustration and a need to survive. And. dress. Some find mentors in their teachers or neighbours or grandparents. the development of procedures based on these understandings. adolescents fail to succeed within the dominant „success ethic‟ of the middle class. Unless post-apartheid South Africa reassesses its commitment to the support. youths enter a delinquent subculture and resort to delinquent measures such as crime. while essential. cultural sensitivity and acceptance.they believe it is the school system and the state which should take responsibility to educate them.. To quote Ruth Benedict: „There has never been a time when civilisatio n stands more in need of individuals who are genuinely culture conscious. join gangs which carry them beyond the boundaries of social and legal acceptance.„modern‟ parents have lost the deep educational initiative without which young people lose touch with ancient inherited cultural roots and simple human wisdom. or care for birthing animals. It is our contention that the formal education system. Sons who have not received this retuning will have father-hunger all their lives. The subculture is considered to substitute middle class values with an alternative status system. but any transformation of their lives requires that we look at what society provides for .and was never designed . but a body-on healing. fads and fashions. the notion of father as teacher is being lost. The boundary between the insiders and the outsiders is not a barrier but a continuum along which teenagers are able to move with surprising ease and speed.. The lucky ones have parents who act on an intuition that adolescents need both physical and emotional engagement. most urban adolescents survive in their fashion. or because they believe school teaches these things. the contradictions which remain hidden or unresolved in the parent culture‟.even if their children are not at school . like the eight young men who were discussed in the introduction to this paper. Others measure themselves and find adult coaching in sport or academic achievement. Appendix Subcultural theories were developed distinctly in relation to Western class-based societies and interpret gangs as a reaction of lower class youth to their social circumstances . attack cars and people in outrageous performances. almost cellular. educational disadvantage.thorough research into the rites and rituals of all cultures. values.and requires of all adolescents.can dance to retune. beliefs and ways of life to those of conventional society. In a non-alienated culture a son does not receive a hands-on healing from a father. In order to succeed. drugs. romances and sexual encounters. It represents an attempt to retrieve some of the socially cohesive elements destroyed in their parent culture due to structural disadvantage. This changed social behaviour is said to offer a solution to the problems of adjustment. „now standing next to the father. . It is these we define as young people at risk. and dead end jobs Within such a nonopportunistic environment with so few career outlets. Some.> Of course. and the re-invocation of older life-experienced people who become respected by young people. conveying different norms.to undertake the cultural. who go too far. But many find only each other and they put together an emotional and symbolic life as best they can: Music.in particular to the problematic experience of unemployment. education and parenting of all children . Social structure is therefore linked to social behaviour through the interpretation of adolescent gangs as a cultural response to the problems posed on them by their disadvantaged material and social class. who can see objectively the social behaviour of other peoples without fear and recrimination. 1990.<$F Bly. They have done this either because they do not know how to deal with their adolescent children. or . albeit “magically”.unless families. transfer of life knowledges essential to the well-being of young people. has become bureaucratised and is unable . In more traditional societies the son‟s body. „It seems that the latent function of subculture is .
and „emotionally disturbed‟. schools. Social disorganisation theories identify the lessening of social bonds in a community as the primary cause of gangsterism. looking at the central role of economic and political relationships in crime in modern society. he analyses delinquency from a structural. In the South African context this is of particular importance. Marxist and other structurally-based theories address the issue of social power. the parent culture as lower class values. the breakdown in social control and communal family structure. offering a macro perspective of the gang phenomenon. It is based on the axiom that class conflict is inevitable in capitalist societies and that such dynamics relate to issues of deviance and control. The cultural perspective assesses „distinct patterns of life‟ that manifest in the dominant culture as middle values. J. Gangsterism thereby reflects a decline in social control by traditional institutions. to social change. The family unit no longer offered security and support and the youth in these areas were forced into gangs as a way of obtaining some social support. and the subculture as „delinquent‟ values. As an extension of these theories.In particular Clarke et al‟s article Resistance Through Rituals offers one of the most comprehensive subcultural theories of delinquency.. hence they become more vulnerable to criminal influence. Ardrey.S. Labe ling theories shift the focus from the forms of deviant behaviour to the processes by which persons come to be defined as deviant by others.deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label‟.New York: The Free Press. (1963) Outsiders. New York: John Wiley. Labeling theories examine the impact of society upon delinquents. All of these theories contribute something to an understanding of gang formation and dynamics. Subcultural and structurally based theories are important in the context of South Africa. It offers a „procedural‟ model of becoming deviant. Crudely speaking the structural perspective assesses the surrounding material and economic conditions. Hence the critical variable in the study of deviance is seen as the social audience. conceived in terms of the gradual construction of a role and an identity.. in part.. Psychogenic approachesare individually based theories that see gang youths as „sick‟. From this perspective gangs are interpreted to function as a mechanism of emotional support. Using the same basic argument as above. over the individual. as Pinnock‟s empirical study conducted in the early eighties. Bibliography Adelson. illustrated. community organisations. cultural. This ostracization forces the individual to join an organised deviant group such as a gang. According to Bronfenbrenner it would seem that the child turns to his possibly undesirable age-mates less by choice than by default. They argue that the initial labeling of an individual as „delinquent‟ causes rejection from accepted societal groups. Becker. According to Becker „deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits. This study claimed that the removals instituted by the Group Areas Act resulted in social disintegration. Working class delinquency is placed in the context of the class struggle. „maladjusted‟. Robert (1961) African Genesis. informative of the structural and material circumstances from which adolescent gangs arise. Process orientated theories such as social disorganisation further allow one to understand the rise of gangs as a response. London: Collins. In conjunction with labeling theories. . This does not mean that delinquency is simply a symptom of class warfare but that „connections are sought between the structural “contradictions” of capitalist society and the forms of deviance and control‟. Social organisations in the slum areas are inadequate to meet the social and psychological needs of an adolescent boy. such as family. they allow one to pinpoint those groups in society which are more prone to being labelled deviant than others. The biographical perspective assesses how the youth‟s reaction to their material circumstances manifest in their behaviour. and biographical perspective. This disturbed psychological state is contributed to by disturbed family patterns and relationships in the early years of the child. (1981) Handbook of Adolescent psychology. The gang becomes an alternative institution to fulfill those needs which the larger social structures could not. H.
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