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.