Fathers' Day is a reminder about state of fatherlessness

Many mothers are fathers because they have taken up most of the responsibility of raising children.
Many mothers are fathers because they have taken up most of the responsibility of raising children.
Image: 123RF/HONGQI ZHANG

Fathers' Day at the weekend came as a stark reminder that millions of mothers will continue to be celebrated on this day given the extent of fatherlessness in SA.

I don't want to make the mistake of ignoring the consequences of apartheid for this anomaly.

Lest we forget, fathers were forced to work far from their families. This broke many families, setting in a state of dysfunctionality in many of them.

This is one of the main cruelties of apartheid: breaking the core of society that is the family.

Although we can't undo the injustices of the past overnight, we have to be intentional about our approaches. How do we then heal and rebuild the core of our society?

Twenty-five years into democracy, we must start showing progress in rebuilding our families. But we are not. The sad truth is that broken fathers give birth to broken sons. Broken fathers raise broken sons.

Broken sons will become broken fathers. It will be a vicious cycle of broken sons and fathers.

We are also not keen on being part of rehabilitatory processes to heal from the poisonous ways that are eroding us because "therapy isn't for blacks", as many argue.

There is a Sotho saying that goes: Ngwana ke wa mme wa hae (a child belongs to her mother).

Such beliefs don't encourage men to participate. They entrench the parenting responsibilities as something genetically exclusively to mothers. All these are not excuses to be absent as fathers.

In conservative societies, a son is seen as an heir. But that too hasn't stopped fathers from being absent.

These are the same fathers who sire sons in a world that has taught us that a son is a father's pride and joy.

It boggles me to see that I and many other sons didn't become joys and pride to a point where our fathers didn't feel compelled to stay.

Now that that is out of the way, I think we have to understand why mothers are and should be celebrated on Fathers' Day.

Many mothers are fathers because they have taken up most of the responsibility of raising children.

Most mothers have taken the sole responsibility of what should have been co-parenting because fathers are absent.

Also, many of us are still trying to deal with the trauma of being fatherless.

And if that means celebrating our mothers on such a day, by all means we should be allowed.

Twenty-five years later, most of the 'born frees' don't have fathers who are responsible enough to be present fathers.

Even when they are freed from the brutality and criminality of apartheid, they are still absent in many ways.

This shows that we need to focus on how we can have a society where more if not all fathers are active and present fathers.

I hope that this resonated with you defenders of Fathers' Day to be exclusively a day for fathers. It isn't Fathers' Day that is the problem, it is fatherlessness.

Again, happy belated Fathers' Day to all the amazing mothers who are doubling up.

As a friend of mine, Motlagae Sekgabi, puts it so perfectly: "Mothers are celebrated on Fathers' Day because they perform duets as solo artists."

*Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement. Follow on @KabeloJay or on Facebook

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