We can be better fathers

The war against the sexual violence on women and minor children must be fought on many fronts.

I have said it before that the fundamental issue is mainly with the boy child who must grow up in a broken society. It is a society where fathers neglect their children and hardworking women are stretched to elasticity as to the amount of care they can give to their children.

It is about mothers and fathers who leave children to be parented by the streets while they indulge in carnal pleasures every evening. Hear me out, I am not excusing sexual abuse. Far from it. In the end we are all responsible for our actions regardless of the socio economic circumstances under which we grew up. I merely say that the state of our society has a lot to do with the problem.

This is not to say that those who grow up surrounded by love and good parental care do not commit acts of sexual abuse. Sometimes children just fly off the handle. I am drawing mainly from experience.

My present moral constitution has a lot to do with my parents’ presence in my life and I have no doubt many of you would proudly make the same claim.

As a boy child, I happened, by God’s grace, to have a good and ever present father. His presence was the main contributor to my moral constitution. Growing up in Mahalapye, I was not short of choices and examples as regards being a bad boy. The ward was replete with models of bad behavior many of whom were celebrated for their vices.

Some of my peers committed acts of rape in their youth. I grew up at a time ya di “streamline”. Thankfully, I was never a part of them. My father would have had a heart attack. And yet my parents didn’t raise us strictly by the cane.

Yes, my mother never shied away from driving the message home with some severities as and when necessary and I have found myself at the wrong end of the cane a good number of times. But it was mainly for home chores and for fighting with other boys or with my elder sisters.

I went to Junior Secondary school at least eight kilometres away from home. That is the distance between Botalaote Ward and Mowana Community Junior Secondary School. Mahalapye had neither taxis nor combi routes at the time.

For half my Junior Secondary School life, my father, an agric demonstrator, would walk me half or all the distance to school. On occasion we would ride on a motorbike or vehicle as the case may have been.

I can safely say that I spent eighty percent of my mornings trips to school with my father. And that’s when he drove a lot of lessons into my young head. The bond was very tight and as such he was the most influential person to me. We discussed career and life generally and his expectations were clear.

My father only ever chastised me once as a young boy. Upon losing a fight against my sister, I had threatened her with steak knife. That’s when I ever crossed the red line. If I am a bad man, it is not for him. It is in spite of him. The same applies to my brothers.

Make no mistake about it, I was not a perfect child. I am yet to meet one. Nor were my parents perfect either. I grew up in a big family and there were imperfections both in me, my siblings and my parents. Sometimes I wished they could do things differently in some areas and at times I felt disappointed about some things they did.

But overall, their virtues far exceeded their vices. Most importantly, they were ever present in my life and that of my brothers and sisters.  As such, they never had to deal with delinquency problems regarding any of us. Just instances of misconduct every boy and girl sometimes strays into.

The streets were ever beckoning at me to fall in and to be a bad boy. It was home that fought back relentlessly.

I am challenged to reflect on my relationship with my parents because my friends and I were at Madiba Senior Secondary School last weekend attending to their Price Giving Ceremony. I was, once again, reminded of why we have such a broken society. Children are on their own.

Glorious moments of achievement are celebrated with teachers and strangers. Less than thirty parents attended if we exclude invited guests. Teachers had to be the ones celebrating on behalf of absent parents. I wondered what kind of parents would miss out on such moments.

Do they even maintain any closeness with their children at home to help in shaping their moral constitutions and in building expectations?

Well, I was not asking myself that question for the first time. It was, in fact, for the umpteenth time now. And I was not short of answers. I sit in court every other day as countless men are hauled before the law to be compelled to honour their maintenance obligations.

Would you expect such people at school prize giving ceremonies? And I ask myself, who must model manhood for their children. Nature hates a vacuum. The streets always take over and the result is often, murder, sex crimes, and other forms of violence.

We can do better, gentlemen.

Editor's Comment
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