DAMIAN: When other people went to school or work we went to rob people. Our favourite spot was the shop close to the bus station. We spent the whole day hanging around to rob people. Like kids who got money to buy stuff for their parent in the shop. We would just get it from them. […] I was small but they knew who we were [a gang] so usually they did nothing. (Illustration of gang cultural repertoire performance: initiating confrontation)
DRÉGAN: I live in this place and there are gangsters there. I need to go to the shop. That shop is like a ‘mission’. It is like a ‘mission impossible’ because to go to that shop without getting robbed, without giving a cent away and you need to purchase what you need to purchase and come home safe. Joh, that was never easy. I never gave my money away but I had to fight. I must get beaten up but do not worry, tomorrow I will have to go back to that shop. […] I used to fight a lot when I was little. (Illustration of township cultural repertoire performance: responding to confrontation)
PHUMLANI: I was walking to the shop, someone, this guy wanted to take what my parents gave me to buy there in the shop. So the only thing I could do there was run. Because there was… because if I stood there and fought, I mean this guy was tall and fighting with him would have been pointless. (Illustration of suburban cultural repertoire performance: escaping confrontation)
BULELANI: Let’s say when, when you buy something. A guy is standing next to the shop. Now when you buy something they know you have money. Then they do something. […] I just ignore them. They won’t do nothing to me. […] Because personally, I also know gangsters. So if they do that to me I tell my friends, yes, and they will sort it out. (Illustration of flexible cultural repertoire performance: avoiding confrontation.)
For young men living in the townships, going to the shop to buy stuff for their parents was almost a daily occurrence. They described being urgently aware of the importance of their response to the challenges posed by peers hanging around outside the shop. Their reaction revealed what kind
of cultural repertoire they were drawing on, and this in turn determined their risks of social exclusion, harassment and exposure to violence in their neighbourhood.