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African Fatherhood On The Brink of Destruction

By Sicebise Msengana

When an African man has fulfilled his duties as a man, he is treated as man and given special privileges reserved for manhood. The first duty of work is  protecting women and children at all costs, even if it means laying down your life. In traditional African societies, manhood was earned on merit, not demanded. So growing a long beard and sleeping around with light-skinned girls doesn’t count. An old African proverb says“Indoda intle ngenkomo zayo.“ Which meant a man was dignified and respected by his wealth. In order for a man to accumulate wealth he had to work hard to earn that wealth.

So wealth earned alone doesn’t  dignify African men.  It must also be accompanied by acts of charity and kindness. Fatherhood is about responsibility and to be a real man you have to be responsible to those around you. Malcolm X made similar  remarks “ Anybody can make a baby, but a father helps to raise his children. There is another word for fatherhood. It's called responsibility." That is why a young man who got a young girl pregnant had to pay damages. The guilty party were required by customary law to make reparations for violating the girl’s virginity and some strict laws even required the young man to marry the girl because the girl now has lost her value as a virgin and has made a transition from puberty to motherhood, in order words, womanhood.

This famous law protected young girls and boys as well. Because sexual activity was delayed until marriage.  The possibility of having single mothers, deadbeat fathers, HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies was eliminated altogether. But thanks to this Caucasian filth, called “Freedom of choice“, little kids young as 15 years and even 13 years old, are having sex and perform legal abortions without the legal consent of their parents as long as they use contraceptives and legal abortions. Apart from  the health related issues with abortion, it has traumatised many young women. Now parents are being pushed aside from their children’s sex life and we wonder why our communities are so ill. According to this now extinct law, young women were guaranteed protection from sexual predators and were given power over their bodies and thus dignity and self-respect. Young men were also protected from human toll gates (gold diggers) who only want to be with you because you buy them expensive alcohol, LV/ Gucci handbags or cars because you had to choose a self-respecting independent African woman who wants to build something real with you. What happened to our traditional values? Because we chased the illusive butterfly of integration( sleeping /dating  or marrying non-Africans , especially white people and Western“values“ and lost sight of these powerful and life-changing principles.

Our young people are  so sexually active to a disturbing point, that young African women having children as many as 3 children out of wedlock is no longer frowned upon by society at large. Even parents have supported this madness, because they are no longer in charge of their children’s lives. That power was taken from them by Western “values“ the day they signed up for Westernisation, which have no place in a traditional African family system.

As a young African man, I take personal responsibility for my own life. You  will never find me moaning about the time I never spent with my father. Hollywood black celebrities such as Lil Wayne, Snoop Dog and the time never spent with my father becomes irrelevant to me when I have role models such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. These heroes‘ lives compensate for the lack of a father figure in my life. All of them were serious and committed fathers and freedom fighters. They had wives, children and raised families and were committed to the struggle. They all paid the price of being involved in the struggle. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in Robben Island. Both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were assassinated.

In essence, when African men fail to MAN up and assume the role of being  providers and protectors, they not only fail African women, but they also fail their children. The joke is still on us African men for the failure of organising and empowering our communities.

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