Home Institution

Tulane University

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


This paper attempts to synthesize both background research and interview content on respect, specifically respect for mothers from their children in Cato Manor. Cato Manor is populated with largely single-mother, matriarchal households of Zulu identifying people.

I conducted eight interviews with four mothers and their children, with the “children” ranging in age from 19 to 29. I requested that my participants share as many stories with me as possible in order to help me write my findings in a narrative approach. I asked about a variety of topics, including what respect is in general, what it means to respect one’s mother, and how respect differs when it comes to fathers.

Zulu culture and black culture were factors in many of the responses I received. Cultural expectations shaped respect in general: who was respected and how to show it. Lessons learned from one’s mother and one’s community were essential aspects in one’s personal perception of respect and how to show respect towards one’s mother. Children spoke about respecting their mother as being obedient and behaving well outside the home, as they are a reflection of how their mother raised them. Similarly, mothers stated their expectations of good behavior from their children outside the home, often mentioning respect towards elders.

On paper, respect for mothers in Cato Manor does not differ much from respect for elders in the community. It is in the intricacies of my participants’ answers where the fascinating substance lies: the different examples of disrespect, the conflicting opinions, the common themes, and how the features of Cato Manor influence it all.


African Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Women's Studies


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