The poet Rumi writes ‘Somewhere between right and wrong there is a garden, I will meet you there’. In many townships we hear stories of how patriarchy has shaped the idea of parenthood in many families, we hear stories of a number of children being raised by single mothers, and every year when father’s day comes it seems to be an opportunity to bash young black men for abandoning their children, all young black men. It seems we forget that although we chastise all men because of other’s mistakes we forget those who do the opposite, those who seek to change the narrative. This essay seeks to celebrate young black men who stepped up to the plate when they got the call that they were fathers.
Titus, Amukelani and Mapala are three young men determined to make a difference in their children’s lives. Titus admits that his daughter Owami is the most important person in his life, even if she is only 8 months old, he gets to see her twice fortnightly because of his work. When Amukelani suggested I meet him in Braam for our shoot I was a little surprised, however this all changed when I saw how his daughter Tshiamo enjoyed the music and the vibe. Amo as he is known to his friends shares any moments of him and his daughter on social media and says he works as hard as he does to secure a comfortable future for her. Mapala has limited access to his son because he lives with his grandmother. He says he wants to prove that he is capable of being a responsible father even in his youth; Mapala gets to see his son about twice a month.
Mainstream media is always selling us stories about black men abandoning their children, and never providing for them. However more and more we see new age township fathers who are showing that no matter what the circumstances are, they are willing to do right by their children. Many times black men face difficult circumstances when they are presented with an unplanned pregnancy; judgement, lack of access to their children and stigma however the poet Rumi’s quote reminds us that instead of dividing and persecuting men because of material value we should celebrate those who make an effort even when circumstances do not permit. This seeks to celebrate the brothers who stepped up to plate, you are men among men.