OPINION | Why the Stellenbosch University urination incident is a bittersweet moment for single moms

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"I want to encourage all the fathers to be involved in their children's lives while they still can." Photo: Getty Images.
"I want to encourage all the fathers to be involved in their children's lives while they still can." Photo: Getty Images.

Single mom and social activist, Noku Katom, reflects on the unfortunate incident that took place in May at Stellenbosch University, sharing "a different perspective". Read her thoughts below. 

I am a single mother, social activist, writer, speaker, and a co-founder of the Single Parents and Blended Families Organization, established in 2010.

Besides the fact that I am in Stellenbosch myself, I have been following the news about the urination incident. At first, I was shocked, speechless, and numb while reading and watching all the video interviews on this matter.

This is how I usually react to disturbing, breaking, news. I get shocked and then observe and analyze the whole situation. While I am not diminishing racism in this incident, surprisingly, my thoughts took a different perspective.

I thought about the single parents I am working with, especially single mothers. I watched both fathers from both sides being at the forefront throughout the process. Honestly, I had mixed emotions.

Read: What is Single Parent's Day, and why should we care?

It was a bittersweet moment for me personally and on behalf of other single moms.

It was sweet to observe fathers taking the lead in matters that involves their children, their sons, in South Africa. It was bitter when I thought about hundreds of single mothers raising their children single-handed while their fathers are still alive, myself included.

It was a bittersweet moment personally because this incident took place in school (Varsity), meaning that these fathers prioritized their children's education irrespective of what happened when they got there.

In my view, the fact of the matter is that fathers sent their children to pursue education. I broke down and cried because my son had been denied the right to education by his biological father.

I sent my son to do his first year in tertiary in 2021. When I could not afford his second year in 2022, I approached his father but still, he refused to contribute to his son's education. We went in and out of Stellenbosch court for maintenance until the registration was closed.

It has not been easy to watch my son staying home while he is supposed to be in school. This is the matter I have no guts to discuss with my son nor with my family.

With my son's experience, I foresaw one of the reasons boys and men are what they are in society.

Must read: How can a single mother with no contact with the father change her children’s surnames?

I imagined and asked questions such as, what kind of father he will be? What kind of a boyfriend, even a husband, he will be? These are the questions that flooded my mind.

One day, I would be confident and have faith that he would turn out good. The next day, I would lose it.

Single parenting is not easy. If people can avoid single parenting, may they prevent it? Yes, some are single parents through death, of which death is unavoidable.

All I could do as a mother was to pray for my son not to be a statistic because of his absent father in his life. I prayed that he would turn out good.

Watching both fathers from both sides in this Stellenbosch case with such a passion and love for their sons provoked emotions I am trying to deal with silently.

Given the statistics and according to the articles that have been written, South Africa is a fatherless nation. It was surprising for me to see fathers taking the lead, showing up in all the interviews.

Not even one article or video says anything about their mothers (I hope they are still alive); however, my attention was on these fathers who seemed to be fathers who are very much involved in their children's lives.

As a praying woman, I pray that this case will end well. I pray and believe that justice will be served, and the whole situation will have a happy ending that our eyes haven't seen, ears haven't heard, and minds haven't anticipated.

I want to encourage all the fathers to be involved in their children's lives while they still can. I also want to encourage fathers who are denied access to their children to approach courts or social workers in their communities.

Our children need both parents.


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