Work­ing hard to be a great dad

Madimetja Jerry Mo­got­lane

CityPress - - Voices - Voices@city­

It has been 20 years since my two sis­ters and I were left or­phaned. The un­chal­lenge­able will of God robbed us of our fa­ther when he died of liver fail­ure. I was too young to know it, but I am told his liver had been both­er­ing him for the bet­ter part of his 45 years of life.

His death left us emo­tion­ally scarred. It robbed us of a doting fa­ther and his ex­tended fam­ily of an al­tru­is­tic fig­ure. May his soul rest in peace.

To us as chil­dren, he played both a fa­ther’s and a mother’s role. He taught us ev­ery­thing we know to­day.

Af­ter his death, we were left to fend for our­selves. Life was hard but, we rose above its ad­ver­sity and pit­falls. We were de­nied the priv­i­lege of go­ing out with him for dinner or to the soccer sta­dium, but we al­ways felt his love for us and that was more im­por­tant.

To­day, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is recog­nis­ing the con­tri­bu­tion fathers and fa­ther fig­ures make in the lives of their chil­dren. Fathers spend the day with their chil­dren as a re­flec­tion of the roles they play in their lives.

But it is a well-known fact that there are many chil­dren who have never felt what it is like to cel­e­brate the day with their fathers. This is be­cause of the sad re­al­ity that they do not know the where­abouts of their fathers.

A friend re­cently tweeted: “I don’t cel­e­brate Fa­ther’s Day; it is an in­signif­i­cant day in my life.” When I asked him about his, he cited the ab­sence of his dad in his life as the main rea­son he wouldn’t cel­e­brate the day.

The an­guish over be­ing aban­doned is felt by many – if not most – of the kids in our coun­try. Grow­ing up in my vil­lage, I wit­nessed many cases of child-headed house­holds. These chil­dren had been forced to as­sume the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of adult­hood at an early age. They had no shoul­der to cry on when it came to deal­ing with is­sues of teenage preg­nancy and the other chal­lenges of ado­les­cence.

Chil­dren Count – Abant­wana Ba­balulek­ile is an in­sti­tute aimed at mon­i­tor­ing chil­dren in South Africa by track­ing and pre­sent­ing fig­ures on chil­dren to a range of au­di­ences. Statis­tics re­veal there were about 85 000 child-only house­holds across South Africa in 2013. These fig­ures are a shame­ful in­di­ca­tion of how cruel this world has be­come to some of those who never met their dads.

Dur­ing my early years, I was told of the prim­i­tive idea that a man is judged by the num­ber of chil­dren he has fa­thered. This pa­tri­ar­chal no­tion was at the time em­braced by our so­ci­ety. It al­lowed men to have as many chil­dren as they wished. These

TALK What role should fathers play in their chil­dren’s lives in 2016?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word FA­THER and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 men pro­vided for all their chil­dren by means of sub­sis­tence farm­ing. Farm­ing was the main­stay of our econ­omy. This “dy­nasty” idea was passed from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other. Life was good then. A few years down the line, and there has been a rapid change in this no­tion. Chil­dren have been aban­doned by their fathers and this has re­sulted in main­te­nance courts filled with women, like a packed FNB sta­dium dur­ing the Soweto derby. Fathers no longer want to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions. As the fa­ther of a nine-year-old daugh­ter, I am per­plexed to wit­ness my male coun­ter­parts shun­ning their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties like this. We need to be aware that in do­ing this, we are rais­ing an an­gry gen­er­a­tion. For­give my in­dis­cre­tion, but some of the sins rav­aging our so­ci­ety are the re­sult of an emo­tion­ally scarred gen­er­a­tion. Prob­lems now wide­spread in our com­mu­nity are the scourge of nyaope and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion through the “Mavuso stokvel” (slang for money given to a woman af­ter she spends a night with a man). Fa­ther’s Day has be­come a joy­ous cel­e­bra­tion only for those for­tu­nate enough to know a fa­ther’s love. Our men should un­der­stand that fa­ther­hood is a price­less and spon­ta­neous re­spon­si­bil­ity. To all re­spon­si­ble men, happy Fa­ther’s Day.


Mo­got­lane is a pub­lic ser­vant and fa­ther

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