Skeem Saam star's sorrow on absent dad

Gift Mokhampanyane recalls rejection of his father.
Gift Mokhampanyane recalls rejection of his father.

Many women in South Africa can relate to having to haul their children's fathers to maintenance court to get them to support their children.

But have you ever wondered how the children in question feel about it?

"It made me feel like my father was paying me to be his son," says Skeem Saam actor Gift Mokhampanyane, who has experienced being a "maintenance baby".

Mokhampanyane, who plays Fanie Maserumule on the popular SABC1 soapie, says he grew up with his father being in and out of his life; at some point he stopped showing up and he had to grow up fatherless. "I am part of the statistics I guess; I am one of those young men who grew up without a father," he says.

"It has really impacted me a lot. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had he been a constant fixture in my life."

Mokhampanyane, 27, says his father's family never liked his mom but preferred his father's other baby mama.

"It was a constant struggle for my mom to ingratiate me into his family. She was never allowed in his family home but she would always drop me off to visit over weekends and school holidays.

"He also didn't help her much financially to look after me. It reached a point for her when she had no other recourse but to take him to court.

"When he finally paid for maintenance, which was an inconsistent R400 that would occasionally trickle down to R200, my mother would insist that he spend time with me and not just support me financially.

"Initially he tried. He would pick me up for outings and buy me clothes and take me to Chicken Licken.

"Then when I joined the Soul Buddyz [children's educational TV programme] cast in grade 9, he stopped maintaining me or showing up. I guess he thought I was rolling in money now that I was on TV."

The baby-faced actor said the last time he saw his dad was when he was in hospital.

"I was in grade 10 and had to have a delicate operation. I woke up from surgery and I saw him. He said he had 'heard that you were dying' and he came to check up on me. That was the last time he showed face in my life."

Mokhampanyane soldiered on without his father's presence in his life and cracked it on local TV including presenting another youth programme, YoTV.

He joined the cast of Skeem Saam in 2014 and says he gets irritated when he hears people say that his father brags about him being on TV.

"My message to all who are going through that experience is that if I could overcome the rejection, you certainly can."

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