Working hard to be a great dad
Madimetja Jerry Mogotlane
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