A Critical Analysis on Vygotsky’s Developmental Theory as Depicted in the Ridddles: The Case of Sesotho Riddle Performance

Author: Thato Mabolaeng Monyakane (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Speaker: Thato Mabolaeng Monyakane
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Riddless are commonly known as puzzles or a game in the form of a spoken word. Guma (1967), Moleleki (1993) and Finnegan (2012) present a riddle as a game played at least by two people. One partner in the game asks a riddle question or a quiz and the second partner gives an answer or resolves the quiz as a second part of the riddle. The following is the activity of a riddle game in Sesotho when it is played. Quizer: Ka u lotha! (Let me quiz you!). The respondent answers: K’ang, “With what”? Quizer: Ka lapana la Mmankokotiane (With ’Mankokotiane’s little family). The quizzer might screech her/his teeth to demonstrate the object talked about if the quizzed does not understand the riddle and is unable to give an answer. This is to increase the quizzed chances of filling the gap regarding the ability to give an answer. If the quizzed has acquired the language and has an experience of seeing teeth in everyday life, s/he might recognise and give the answer, “ke meno” (it is teeth.) The quizzer creates an opportunity for the quizzed, that the answer the quizzer wants or that of the riddle is teeth. The quizzed might realise through the steps (guidance) provided by the quizzer that the teeth are like members of the family. They are firm on the gums as the name ’Mankokotiane suggests firmness. The teeth are firm on the gums.  Their home is the mouth. But if the quizzed still struggles to get an answer, s/he poses a riddle to the quizzer and they take turns to show that s/he wants to acquire more knowledge about the environment that surrounds him/her in Sesotho language and if the quizzer turned quizzed is unable to tell the answer, s/he is forced to tell the answer and buy the riddle of a former quizzed. This paper aims to evaluate the Vygotsky’s theory of development as depicted in Sesotho riddles. Vyygotsky’s theory argues that a person’s cognitive development, in particular a child or one’s learning ability can be guided and mediated by social interactions. The Sesotho riddles will be evaluated against the key concepts and models explaining the Vygotsky’s theory of development in learning, to illustrate how language and other cultural practices also contained in language like social experiences are acquired through playing riddles.  According to Vygotsky’s developmental theory, human development bargains on human interactions.

Keywords: Riddles, Sesotho, spoken word, Vygotsky’s developmental theory.