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Cecil Lwana
 
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Fathers and fatherhood

13 April 2014, 09:59

The experience of many South African men has been powerfully influenced by history; particularly black fathers who were separated from their children by the need to work in distant places on the terms of Migration Act that permitted only one annual visit home. The work was physically hard and the environment was brutal it produced men who were immune to pain, hardship and violence. What happened to our villages when these men of steel came back home is another story on it`s own.

Caring for the most part was considered to be a task exclusively for women. The children had to find means and ways to live and survive without fathers. Our rural homesteads were fatherless, mothers had to play fathers. Not all fathers are proud to be fathers, and unfortunately not all fathers want to participate in their children`s lives in fact most South African men do not seem interested in the lives of their children, now we have cases where boys die trying to be better man. The men who manage to get fatherhood right through a series of trail-and-error are too old to use their wisdom and too stingy to share it with young men who are still trying to figure it all out.

Men do not talk about these things, their struggle to manhood is kept secret, we act as if we are made of steel, the moment a boy start squinting his eyes to cry  they are told to “ man up, men don’t cry we should suck it up!” unfortunately in the process of sucking it up we suck it up so hard we begin to asphyxiate and die in our silence. Society expects us to be Superman * but even Superman had kryptonite* Is it that important to preserve this existing social structure that males, as a gender and a clan, be pushed to psychological suffocation  that leads a robotic life – running on social instructions?

As young men we need other men as role models,  we need someone to take us through the mazes of being a man, our mothers can not do that, we appreciate the  warmth of their embrace and the nourishment of their breast milk but that’s not enough to make boys to men. You must understand that a father is a guide to a boy, he announces what a boy will become, and he explains to him how to pave your course through the chaos of masculinity.

If we are going to have a healthy family structure, no one should be left outside, boys need as much coaching and empowerment as girls, should we fail at this we risk continuing this vicious circle of absent fathers sometimes physically present. We risk our brothers turning to drugs for solutions; we risk a generation of boys that seeks to be confirmed as men through beating women.

Today, the media is replete with news of crimes committed by men and with anti-male sentiments provoking male hatred and the society, including men, is silent about it. Because, we have so high expectations from men and because we take them for granted, society holds only those men responsible for the crimes reported, against whom it is reported. We are forgetting the famous quote by Henry Thomas, “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it”.

Squarely blaming men for crimes is not going to reduce it, it will rather increase it. It is pertinent to realize that even if a man commits a crime, he does not do it by choice; he is rather forced and cornered to such an extent that he is left with no other options. Notwithstanding crime and nor an attempt to justify crime, but it must be pertinent and enlightening realization that crime can only be reduced by eliminating  factors that leave men with no options but crime and not the criminal.

Lack of choices in men’s life and lack of “Male Empowerment” are two key indirect contributors to crime as it wipes off the trust of the society from the man and he takes to the ultimatum. Crime by men is not a disease, it’s just a symptom; symptom of a far more serious disease – Misandry and Male Disposability. Choice belies with the society, whether to work on symptoms or to attack the disease, the root cause. In my opinion “Male Empowerment” is the call of the day, what do you think?

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