I grew up in a society where black fathers were shunned because of their lack of support and availability. It is said that a father figure is rare where black women are concerned and that in turn, deprives them of the teachings from a male on how life works especially where men are concerned. Not all women without father figures fall victim to life’s difficulties, but most of the women I have encountered are always in awe when they find out how close I am to my father, as they wish it for themselves. They say “If I had a father figure I would probably be a different and better woman”, but I can only speak for myself when I say that my father shaped me into the woman I am today and I am eternally grateful to have been afforded the luxury of a father’s wisdom.
I have an extremely close relationship with my father, we run our family business together, I talk to him about my relationships and he gives me guidance that I can only obtain from a man. His views and directions are like gold to me, priceless and rare. He always says to my sister and myself that independence is the only thing worth obtaining for every woman in this day and age, he says that in reference to the relationship he has with my mother. My mother has never worked a single day in her life since she met my father, he has provided everything for her up until this day, without hesitation or doubt because he believes that a man must always take care of his woman. I grew up with such a mentality, that my man is to take care of me in every way, but, as he says that the men of our generation have too many options and no time to care, we as women need to secure the bag and take care of ourselves.
I agree times have changed, men these days have conditions on how to love and they sometimes even expect to be treated the same way women should be treated, it is very strange and confusing. There is no longer a difference when it comes to men and women in terms of courtship, men want to be pursued, they want flowers, to be taken out on dates as well as anniversary presents. Really?!, Where and when did this come about? Now they see no reason to treat us like the Queens our mothers were because they see themselves as our equals. My father worships my mother and has never asked for anything except her undying love. Yi sono ngathi ladies, we are dating women.
Growing up my father always gave us his bank cards to swipe, his cars to drive and money when we worked hard enough to earn it, because he believes that if he did this for his daughters then no other man could ever use material things to use and abuse us. He had showed to us that such things should not fascinate us. By doing this he protected us from men who believe women can be bought, that women can be drawn in by the idea of luxury and fancy cars. I have never been the type to be fascinated by material things, to me love is the most priceless and precious thing we have the pleasure of experiencing. There were times when my parents had nothing but they still carried each other because of the love they shared. This generation is so focused on money, blessers, blessings and Gucci, they even base their relationships on that, thus she leaves him when he goes broke. Nothing of substance is drawing her to him, so nothing of real value is keeping them together, unless maybe you equate real value to money and cars.
Most men are either buying us or using material things to obtain us and its only because that is all they can offer, they do not believe that they have what it takes to be loved just for being themselves and it is also because they have this twisted notion that all women love money and money is all you need to get the women you desire, which I can debate and call bullshit, but the women in my society haven’t really proved them wrong, so I rest my case.
I won’t say that I haven’t faced any challenges growing up as a black woman in current society, but I was spared from many things because of my father. I started going out, drinking and kissing boys after my 21st birthday celebration. I had what we in the Zulu culture refer to as uMemulo, where my virginity was checked. Growing up I had no desires to be around boys in any way, I was not afraid of them, but all I knew was that I had to stay away from them until I was in a position to make adult, mature decisions. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and classmates would think I was weird or slow because of their fascination with sex in high school, it wasn’t because they used to do it a lot and enjoy it, it was because they wanted to understand what everyone they looked up to was talking about, and that in turn made them prone to recklessness you know, babies having babies. Sex was always such a taboo topic for me even though most of my friends were having it, I would always hear my father’s words whenever I would fall into peer pressure, but I held my own and made it through the fires of adolescence. I never really knew or understood why I was doing what I was doing, but all I knew is that I had to make my dad proud, thus I was a virgin until the age of 23. I tried to hold out a little longer but hey, I needed to know what it felt like.
My father placed a lot of pressure on me and my sister and he was extremely strict, everyone on my street knew. We weren’t allowed to attend parties or stay out late. I didn’t even go to my own matric dance after party. It took a while for us to realize the reason for his doings and we are very grateful that our teenage years were spared from unwanted pregnancy and bad decisions. A father figure is of utmost importance in a black woman’s life and I say this solely because of my experiences. My father groomed us into female machines and if any women out there can relate, it is up to us to redirect and save black women everywhere! Let’s share what we learnt, let’s prove to women that independence is our salvation, lets show them that marrying a man does not make them greater than others. We are capable of moving mountains, let us apply ourselves and the skills we obtained from our fathers and take the world by storm!
Writer: Vangile Miya