Three infants observed

Three infants are born into three different families.


Banele 6 months copy

Banele is the son of Nomusa and Sizwe. Nomusa is 34, Sizwe 43. After being together for more than 4 years, and having had two daughters together, Nomusa and Sizwe decided to marry about 5 months before Banele was born. Banele is Nomusa’s 6th child and her and Sizwe’s 3rd child together. Banele is Sizwe’s first son. Nomusa was very ambivalent about having another child. The family all live together in a new suburban area on the outskirts of a large township about 40 minutes from Johannesburg. The older siblings are Sihle (15), Skhumbuzo (10), Siyabonga (9), Thando (4) Zanele (2). Sihle moved to live with her mother and the rest of the family a few months before filming began. This is the first time she has lived with her mother and the family. Until then, Sihle had been living with her grandmother in a rural area in a different province. Skhumbuzo and Siyabonga are brothers from Nomusa's second marriage.

Nomusa, who manages a guesthouse in a middle-class suburb of Johannesburg, was pressured by her employer to return to work when Banele was 3 weeks old. Banele and the two youngest girls remained at home with their father and a number of continually changing caregivers (referred to as Aunties, but not related). Sizwe was unemployed for the first number of months of filming, after which he was re-contracted at a Government military air base, cleaning airplanes. He was Banele’s primary caregiver for the first few months. After the first 2 months, Sihle, the oldest child was allowed to hold the baby and the other children followed gradually after that.

Filming Banele took place mainly on weekends, hence the family, children in particular, were often around. Nomusa and Sizwe separated and later divorced about 8 months after filming ended when Banele was almost 2 years old. Nomusa remarried and subsequently has had three children.

Note: You will hear family members referring to Banele as "Bhuti" - this literally translated means "brother" and is used both in this direct way and as another name for Banele.


Leago frog pose

Leago, whose name means "bridge builder", is Sue’s first child. Sue is 24, a single mom, who lives with her mother, Florence, whose house in a newer part of a densely populated township in Johannesburg. Although unplanned, Leago is a very welcomed child. Sue shares the house with her younger brother and her mom. Her father passed away when she was a teenager.

Sue has a diploma in marketing and resigned from her job shortly before giving birth. She has been a stay-at-home mom for the first 8 months of Leago's life. When she decided to go back to work Sue found a telemarketing job and then left Leago in the care of his great-grandmother, Lilian, during the day.

Originally Leago’s biological father denied paternity of Leago and, as per tradition, he had no access to the baby. After a few month he acknowledged that he was the father and initiated on-off interaction with Leago.

Filming took place in mid-mornings during weekdays, and occasionally on weekends, for the first 8 months depending on Sue’s schedule. After Sue had returned to work, filming was done mainly on weekends or late afternoon to capture the handover between great grandmother and Sue when she returned from work.

Sue's older brother Rodney and his daughter Naledi spend a lot of time at Florence's house during weekends and were often present during filming.


Sofia 1 yr copy

Sofia is Beatriz (36) and Geoff's (38) first daughter and third child. Beatriz and Geoff are married. The other children are Raphael, 4, and Luca, 2. They live in a house in a gated community in an upper-class suburban area of Johannesburg. Beatriz is a lawyer who took maternity leave shortly before giving birth and chose to go back to work when Sofia was two months old. Geoff is in finance. He took a few days of paternity leave after Sofia's birth.

Sofia spends her days with Nomsa, her nanny, who cares for all three of the children when the boys get home from pre-school before lunch. Nomsa arrives at work in the early morning and travels back home by taxi once Beatrize or Geoff return from work and drop her at the taxi rank. Shirley is also a domestic worker, living on the premises, and occasionally looks after the children, although her primary responsibilities are housekeeping, laundry and some cooking.

Once Beatriz had returned to work filming generally took place more flexibly, as requested by Sofia’s parents, between 5 and 6 pm so that the changeover interactions from nanny/housekeeper to parent could be captured, rather than filming predominantly in the absence of a parent.