Black Fatherhood

Image by @TheNubons
Black Fatherhood

In South Africa the dire state of black fatherhood is no myth. But there is hope in Christ! Blaque and Kat encourage fathers to break this destructive cycle

Transcript

Kat: At some point, my father stayed a block from where I stayed, with another family.

Blaque: But you’ve never seen him?

Kat: So, I saw him twice.

Blaque: In your life?

Kat: Maybe three times in my life. But we’ve never had a conversation. And he had a family. And he was a family man. So obviously, I was a bit… I think I was in high school at the time. The thought does go through your mind: “so he’s capable.” So you take that with you, you carry that with you. Everything is done and defeated at the cross. But because we are under the sun, S-U-N, on earth you have scars that are there. They are consequences of that decision. So I think that makes it a bit more difficult because that situation is more prevalent in black men, in black households. So compared to everyone, so even just that, we carry that.

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Introducing Katlego

Blaque: Welcome back to the Gospel Coalition Africa podcast. I’m still your host, Black Nubon and I’m with Katlego. Bro, What’s your name, bro?

Kat: Katlego. No one calls me that though, everyone calls me Kat. If you say you are looking for Katlego, I won’t be there. Everyone calls me Kat.

Blaque: That’s cool man. Thank you for joining us on the podcast. It’s really awesome to have you and we’re going to be talking about something that’s dear to my heart and we’ll get into it. I’m not going to say it yet I just wanna draw you in so you’re like watching until we tell you what we’re going to be chatting… You probably saw from the title, what am I saying!?
Anyway, bro, as we get into it, can you just tell us a bit about how you met Jesus?

Meeting Jesus

Kat: Yoh! So I grew up in the townships and it’s stereotyped but like there isn’t a lot of people reaching out. So I met Jesus first year of varsity. The typical way. Someone asked me “if you died today are you sure you will go where you will go?” And you know you brush it off. But yah, it worried me and then I met a few cats that were doing Campus Outreach, the ministry in Varsity. But the thing is these people were normal. They weren’t like your more hectic Christians, so to say.

Someone asked me ‘if you died today are you sure you will go where you will go?’

Blaque: And they didn’t ask you if you die where are you gonna go?

Kat: No! Like and it was like good, they would go see movies, but normal movies and stuff like that. They were doing life normally, but they were telling me they’re about Christ. And I think that drew me and then I decided to question it. And then it un-earthed stuff in me that weren’t real. Like, do you know why you’re here? What’s the point of this? Why do you put in so much effort? And there was no answer. And then as I pursued that and I got to know about him, you know really know him. I was like, “yah, I could do this.” And then I think I went to like a thousand alter calls! You know if there was an alter call I was there! I was like, alright I am giving. And then one day the Holy Spirit was like, “Man, I got you, you don’t have to ..”, no he said, “that is not for you” you know it was at CRC there was another alter call and I was going to go and he was like “that is not for you”. And I was like OK. And from there on it has been a journey.

Meeting the Family

Blaque: That is pretty cool, bro, you met the Creator, your Father.

Kat: Yes.

Blaque: Yeah, and you gave your life to him. That’s pretty cool. Are you a father?

Kat: Yah, of two.

Blaque: And you have been married for how long now?

Kat: Five years. Five years last month actually.

Blaque: That’s pretty dope, bro. Care to tell us about how you met your wife?

Kat: So… so the PG version is that we went in Varsity, we hung around the same circles, we became friends for a very long time. Yeah, and then 2012, I’m just like starting to see flames. Yeah, like who’s this person? And yah, and then the rest was history. So we met in Varsity, studied together, got really close but it was very platonic. Almost family. She was… to everyone, she was my little sister. When I started work actually I called her that. I introduced her as my little sister in the first year of work and then the second year I’m like, this is my girlfriend and they are like, “didn’t you say…” what’s going on here?

Blaque: What kind of family is this!?

Kat: Do we need to call someone? So, so it was friendship that grew and grew and then it grew into romance and then five years and two kids later.

Blaque: That’s pretty cool man. Five years going strong. You grew up somewhere in Pretoria?

Growing up Without a Father

Kat: Yah, I grew up Magupani. North of Pretoria. It was actually part of Northwest back in the day. Outskirts of Pretoria. Lets call it that, outskirts of Pretoria.

Blaque: How was life growing up for you? Care to share with us? Did you grow up with both your parents?

in my street, with around 40 houses, maybe 3 were dual parent homes. Everyone else was a single mom

Kat: No, so, so I grew up in a single family, single parent home. And, I don’t know in the townships that’s the norm, like that’s why I’m like, it’s not, it wasn’t a thing as much for me, because I’ll see like in a street, in my street, with around 40 houses, maybe 3 were dual parent homes. Everyone else was a single mom, so just, it was the norm. But I went to a multiracial school and that’s when I saw that actually I’m not normal. I remember Father’s day was rough for me because, because I never knew my dad.

My Mom Held it Down

Blaque: So you grew up with your mom?

Kat: I grew up with my mom. And, and that’s all I knew. I still use my mom’s surname. So, when I was in primary, my mom changed her surname, so I don’t even have that. I am whoever, of some clan, I am using my Mom’s surname. Still using my Mom’s surname. And it was cool, it was like everyone else. Until I went to a multi-racial school and they have this Father’s Day. They talk about camping. And a black mother is not about to go camping and sleep in some tent! So that was a bit rough. I think with exposure it became a bit rough. But my mom held it down and raising a boy in the township was tough and she was harsh, my mom was hard. And I can say this because I have a younger brother 14 years younger. So I could see the difference, she’s very soft. With me she was harsh.

Blaque: She was wasn’t playing games, is it just the two of you at home?

Kat: No, it’s three, so you know how it is with black families if a family member dies, they adopt the kids. So, I’ve got a sister that way, an older sister. I think she’s 11 years older than me. Then there’s me and then there’s my brother, my biological brother. So that’s just three of us. And yah, like no dad, no male influence, that kind of thing.

even the Dad’s that were there, weren’t really there.

God Taught me How to be a Man

I think, the best shape of masculinity, is from God, and I know how that sounds, it sounds super spiritual. But there was a void and that was the only thing that could really fill it, for me, for whatever reason. And that is how I learned how to be a man. It was cool. My mom did everything. So, my work ethic is from my mom. That lady worked, that lady works. But it was cool. We would all speak about it, you know mom does this, mom does this – but you don’t feel… even the Dad’s that were there, weren’t really there.

Blaque: They were there physically but any other aspect…

Kat: So we are all the same. So this guy would be like, “No, my dad is gonna pay this” but he would never say “I hung out with my dad, or my dad …”

Blaque: Or I need advice, I am going to go to my Dad …

Kat: Or like when you get 13 or 14 for us, is when you were like doing, learning about sex and that stuff, no one was like, “let me go ask my dad, guys, and I will come back.” It will be like “let’s steal this, let’s look at that.” So we were all the same. It was like everyone didn’t have a dad which is a sad reality.

Normalising the Absence of Black Fatherhood

Blaque: And I think growing up, like at one level, you, you know, something is not normal but just because it’s so rife and everyone is going through that same reality, it normalises it. Where you, like, yeah, like why do I even need a dad? To some extent, you know what I mean? Like, obviously when you’re faced with challenges and there’s something in you that is screaming out for a male presence, before then you just like, my mom does everything, like why …

Kat: Yeah, I went through a lot of that. I think when I became Christian I was more awakened to the need of a dad a little bit but I was fine. It’s when my daughter was born I read a book – it was written by a guy about how to be a dad and I was like, I get it. I get the need but like your black parents, black mothers spread themselves thin to cover. So you don’t see. Also you don’t know what you don’t know. So I had a close friend who had a dad and we were the same in terms of… in terms of guidance, in terms of… I’ll even go as far as to say the choices that we made in life, mine were a bit better. Not because I’m a better person, but because my mom was like, “you’re out, you’re out”.

you have a child, then you leave that woman, because you are like, “actually what is the big deal? If I am there or not, this person will be fine. I was fine.

Blaque: She was gonna strangle you!

Kat: Yeah! So you are like, okay, but he has a … Okay, then you don’t need … what’s the big deal? What’s the big deal? And then what happens is then you grow up and you are thinking what’s the big deal? Then you have a child, then you leave that woman, because you are like, “actually what is the big deal? If I am there or not, this person will be fine. I was fine.”

Blaque: My mother was okay.

Kat: Yah, “so, buck up lady, I am out!” Which is hectic.

Discussing Black Fatherhood

Blaque: And that’s what we actually talking about today, fatherhood. But particularly, black fatherhood. For obvious reasons – you are a black guy.

Kat: Yes, it is real!

Blaque: You are a black father. But, another thing is, it is an epidemic. I don’t think there’s probably a lighter term to describe this. The epidemic of a lack of black fathers is something that is, is quite prevalent in our culture as black people. Something that’s prevalent across Africa, you know what I mean.

Kat: Yes, If not across the world, wherever black people are.

Blaque: Yeah, wherever you find black communities. You’ll hear that same story. Unfortunately. Which is super sad! But, but in God’s grace and his mercy, there’s a new generation of black fathers that are just stepping up. And again, not of our own strength, not out of anything that we’ve done in our cleverness. But again, I think it’s just the mercy of God in our lives. And so that’s what we wanted to chat to Kat about this afternoon. Just how it’s been for you as a black father. Some encouraging things, some challenges, you know what I mean? There’s obviously black father’s watching this and how we can particularly encourage them.

Is the Absence of Black Fathers a Myth?

So what I wanted to ask you, I mean, I kinda I just poured out my view on the thing. A lot of people, in fact not a lot, I actually just heard one conversation, but this guy is actually, like he’s super learned, he is some guy in the States. And he was like, “Nah bro, the the epidemic of a lack of black fathers is a myth. Like, black fathers are there.” And I was like “what?’ Like that’s, at least that’s not what I’m experiencing where I live. So, is it a myth? Is it a myth? Are black fathers there?

Kat: I think if we all spoke to our reality we will prove that it’s not a myth. Because I mean you talk to people, our generation, and you talk to people a bit older, and you ask them about their father, don’t even ask them about their world, ask them about their father and it’s a different picture. And I don’t think it’s a myth. And there is another reason that I know it’s not a myth, because when you do a little bit of fathering the world blows you up to be this Messiah! Which is the most ridiculous thing, by the way, because the base is so low.

I know it’s not a myth, because when you do a little bit of fathering the world blows you up to be this Messiah!

I change one nappy and then I’m a good dad! Is that like the standard? That’s such a ridiculous thing! So because of that, it can’t be a myth, because, I mean if you look at other races, if you look at Jewish people and stuff, they’ll talk about legacy. Their concept of fathering is beyond just providing needs. It’s about providing legacy, it is about identity. We are still as black fathers at a level of just, “if I can provide and make sure your outcomes, in terms of education, in terms of vocation, is better than mine then I’ve done well”.

We Need to Develop in Terms of Fatherhood

So you can see we are in out infancy in terms of fatherhood. That’s how I know it’s not a myth because we haven’t, it’s like anything else, like wealth, whatever, we haven’t developed to where all the other, I’ll say, races are. Therefore it can’t be a myth! It can’t. And also, it makes it, it also it makes it hard for ladies out there, because I mean… I’ll share a silly story. So when my daughter, or my wife was pregnant with my daughter, with my firstborn. We did this shoot in Maboneng. And there’s this picture where I’m kneeling down and I’m kissing her stomach, right. And I put that picture up. I put it as my what’s app and I got so much crushing on, and it didn’t make sense! Because, I’m like, but, I’m with another woman, so how can this be?

Blaque: And so other women were like – “I want this guy!”

Kat: And I know it is not me, cos I’m not, I’m not just that guy, I’m not hot, you know! It is definitely not me. But, because of a lack of that you automatically become so appealing. I mean I could be a douche for all you know. But it is how rare that thing is. And that is why I think it is an epidemic, I think you are right, to think there isn’t enough of it. And also the way it is there, we don’t know what to do, like we are also figuring it out. So, I find myself also mentoring so many people because I don’t know, I’m just like turn right here with me and we will see.

Blaque: We will see – yeah yeah yeah! I’m also walking this journey!

Kat: At best I can walk the journey with you rather than mentor you and we can see life together and say “Ok, that was a bit… and let’s write it down.”

Personal Experiences will Mould us

Blaque: So, you grew up without a father. You meet Jesus. That radically changes your perspective on fatherhood. Can you walk us through how growing up with a single mother influenced you now as a father, along with finding yourself in a Christian community. Finding yourself at the feet of Jesus. How have those realities influenced you as a father today?

Kat: I think I’ll start with how my mom influenced me. So, my mom always said, and it was on a basic level, she always said “you’re a man.” And by ‘man’ she meant by I’m a man, I can do more things, I’m stronger. So she’s like, “because of that you need to do more, you need to carry more of the weight.” That obviously, in the in the Kingdom, for me that’s translated in me being a better leader. Being able to lead and serve my wife.

Challenging Stereotypes about African Manhood

So, at home other guys would just do the garden and they could go play. I had to do the inside stuff, do the floor, cook, then do the garden then go play. Because I can do more. I’m a guy. And that shaped how I served. And the second thing is my mom didn’t allow me as much patriarchy advantages as everyone else. So I worked at home. I would kill the cow and then cook it. Whereas other men would kill the cow and just chill.

So I worked at home. I would kill the cow and then cook it. Whereas other men would kill the cow and just chill.

Blaque: And then go hang the skin! And then make the clothes from the skin to dress the family!

Kat: And then advise about which other cow must we get? You know what I mean? So I didn’t experience the advantages that I experienced later in life in other spheres. So for example if I went to a family wedding I would be there carrying the pot for my mom to put it in the thing. And then some other guys would have to come to me and say, no, no, no, men don’t do that. Men sit and drink and then we will kill the cow later. That is not how I was brought up, I was like if there’s a need you are a guy you can if you can do it you should do it, otherwise you are being lazy. And then I also…

Blaque: Good, man, props to your mom, bro.

Fathered by God

Kat: Yeah, I know – like my mum was a ‘G’ right!? And secondly, I think when I met God, He… it was very confusing and he just fathered me. He said “listen, I know further ahead of you, if you trust me I can show you.” And then he’s like, I’ll first love you and this is what I mean. Go test it. And for me that was fatherhood, because he was saying “I know this, I’m sure of this, I’ll give you freedom to trust something and then when you can see that you can trust me you have to listen to me.” And also he was very, like, the kingdom is not a democracy. If you’re in there, there is authority, there is rule. But you can get out if you want to get out. Right? And he was very clear for me, because he knew what person I was like. But here there is no voting.

there was a lot of learning on submission for me. To be under authority. To enjoy the privileges of authority… to respect authority.

Blaque: Yeah he is King!

Kat: He is. It’s my way or the highway. There’s not even a highway because the highways belong to me. It’s my way or get out. So, that was yah, like there was a lot of learning on submission for me. To be under authority. To enjoy the privileges of authority, to know that authority is not just there for the sake of it. But also to to respect authority. I think it’s one of the things I have learned as a father that I’m teaching. Because there’s healthy respect for authority. And there are ways that you can use authority even for your benefit. In a sense that you are under a certain level of authority, there are some benefits that come with that. But if you look at authority negatively, you don’t even see that. You are always fighting it. It doesn’t work out for you. And the authority is still there. That is the other thing.

Blaque: Yeah exactly.

Kat: So you don’t change that. You have a bad boss and then you are like, he is still your boss and you have had five years now that suck, that didn’t change.

Feeling I Belong with God the Father

So God like took me through a journey and I felt as part of a pack. I don’t know if that makes sense. I always had family, I had my mom, but like I don’t know, like when you have a father you belong somewhere. I’m not underplaying what my mom did, I belonged in the Dube’s and that was fine and and I never doubted that. But there’s something deeper, maybe because I’m a man and I could talk to God in a masculine way, but I felt belonging. Which was instant and I responded to it. So it changed. And now I know that because I was given those gifts from God in terms of fatherhood I’m obliged to give them, and I have them to give.

there’s something deeper, maybe because I’m a man and I could talk to God in a masculine way, but I felt belonging.

I think that’s the other thing. If you don’t have a father sometimes you don’t have gifts to give. Like my daughter’s identity. I know that as much as she’ll be like her mom, but as a father I am meant to equip her to know that there must be an identity. There is something deeper than your name, than your skin, and even than your belief. There is you in there and I’m helping her see that and she can then draw it out. But that was given to me. So this is not even my intellectual… hey hey hey I am here! It was given to me, so that I can give it to my kids.

Learning to Be a Servant Leader in the Home

Blaque: Yeah, that’s good man. How has it been for you… so between you and your wife, and you spoke about leadership now, how has it played out? Because you spoke about servant leadership, and and for black men, like servant leadership, we only hear leadership.

We hear leadership and servant is everyone else!

Kat: Yes, yes. I would go as far as for men in general! “Bring me my food!”

Blaque: We hear leadership and servant is everyone else! But you spoke about servant leadership, how does that work out between you and your wife? Is she like, “yoh man, what are you doing? Just be a man, sit down, and let me give you your food. You know, like we were raised in an African traditional culture.”

Kat: An African context and way…  I think because we were friends for a long time it wasn’t as sharp a contrast. But there is still a bit of that where I can see she’s wondering “is this leadership?” Because part of what I’ve learned about leadership is partnership. So firstly leadership: you need to be comfortable in your authority. Right?

I’m comfortable that I’m the head of the home… So when I serve I’m serving from that place. I am pouring myself out for her.

So I’m comfortable that I’m the head of the home. She doesn’t have to tell me that. She doesn’t have to affirm that, she can and she does, but I walk in knowing that. So when I serve I’m serving from that place. I am pouring myself out for her. Right? So it’s not… and in that I’m leading already. So it’s not her doing what I want. It’s her… me bringing her closer to God.

Loving Leadership is about Partnership

So I told her when we got together that “one of my roles in your life is to be an extension of God’s love.” And then it’s easy for me to pour. So, and it is sometimes difficult, because she’ll be expecting me maybe to make a call to just say “let’s do this”. But because I’m thinking and I’m knowing that I’m a leader I’m like “that’s not the right way to do it. That’s not how I want to do it. If I’m not here. I want to know what kind of call you are going to make, so let’s make the call together.” It’s a bit uncomfortable for her because you are like, no, but did he take the lead? Like “Mung, mung, mung, mung would have just made a call.” I’m seeing later than this moment and I’m building a person. I’m not about… and the thing is if I needed my authority to be affirmed, I would have made the call. Know me, I am making calls.

Blaque: Yeah, look at me.

Kat: I don’t need that. And I think it’s also because of God like he’s given me this gift where I’m like, I don’t I need that I am here to serve her.

The Challenge of Black Cultural Expectations

Kat: But it is tricky because we are not in that context. Like our, even our prospect of marriage as black people, I don’t think it’s matured to the stage where we can be flexible. It’s difficult. I don’t even think the Jewish people in that time, the Israelites, the Hebrew people, I don’t think… they didn’t struggle with this. Because they also had their cultural stuff. Women did this, men did that, I mean, this guy comes he says he’s the Messiah but he’s ‘carpenting’. That’s why they were like “Indlen wena?” Or “you get hungry like us maar we must suddenly…!” So I think it is the same thing, but I think what its about is consistency.

So, I was listening to some podcast and the guy was revealing how, you know when God said, “I am that I am” right? And that guy was saying “that is so rich” because he is saying “the way I am now is the way I will always be.” No one on earth can ever say that. Like you can’t say that, because you are not that guy! And what that translated for me was consistency. If she knows that I will always do this, I will always be there, I will always… Then it buys me that currency to know, for her to see that actually this is leadership, because the outcome is controlled. “He has thought of this.”

the other challenge for us black men is our reference point. If you have a dad, more often than not he wasn’t with an educated, equal partner

Leadership is More than Provision

And she can ask, “so why are we doing this? Why are we doing it this way?” Because she’s a… remember the other challenge for us black men is that our reference point. If you have a dad, more often than not he wasn’t with an educated, equal partner. So my wife is an engineer, right, she thinks. She’s probably smarter than me, actually. So now she will ask the question…

Blaque: Yeah – “why are you doing this?”

Kat: “but that doesn’t make any sense.”

Blaque: You can’t say “heh sit down! Woman!”

Kat: Yah, you know, “I will not buy bread!” “Ok, that is fine I will go to Woolies and buy my own bread, it is all good.”  You know, so… and I think the challenge for you then is to have a different quality of leadership. Because you can’t leverage off providing to lead. You have to just lead.

you can’t leverage off providing to lead. You have to just lead.

Blaque: You have to lead man!

Kat: And she has to see the value…

Blaque: That’s a tweet-able moment, man, leadership is more than provision.

Kat: Yah, like because we can’t do that, you and I can’t do that. You can’t be like “If you don’t do this I won’t buy you bread,” she will be like “that’s cool, I am actually off carbs!” So good luck, guy.

Waiting on God to Lead

So yah, that’s how it pans out when there is consistency. And I always go back to my dad, which is God, to say “how did he do it? Or what did he say? What was the last thing he said about this?” And I know it sounds like I’m oversimplifying it but if I don’t know, I wait. And that is what I do.

Blaque: That is good, bro, that is not simple, waiting is not simple!

Kat: And I also say “I don’t know. My love, I don’t know. This is where I am feeling led, but this part I don’t know and we’re going to go with it because I am trusting this.” Honestly, and that is how it goes.

The Attitude towards Daughters in Africa

Blaque: Amen, man. And you have two kids. How old is your daughter?

Kat: So my daughter, my firstborn she is 3, and my son turned 1 in August.

Blaque: Turned 1. That’s good, bro. I have a daughter as well. When I, in fact when I got out of the hospital, right? The security guard was like “well, congrats on the kid. Is it a boy or girl? So I said, ‘a girl’ and he was like ‘ahh, better luck, next time, man.” You know,! and I was like “what?” You know what I mean? Like, everything in me flared up. And I was like “cool, man. I’m a Christian. I can’t beat this guy up,” be chilled.

congrats on the kid. Is it a boy or girl? So I said, ‘a girl’ and he was like ahh, better luck, next time, man.

Kat: You should have called me!

Blaque: I should have called you bro! And then ironically when I went to church the security guard at our church, at our gates, said the same thing! And then some other dude said the same thing as well somewhere. And I think it was a security guard as well so there is clearly a pattern!

Kat: So we know who not to tell!

Your Firstborn is Supposed to be a Boy

Blaque: But it wasn’t the first time I’ve ever heard that. And particularly from African men. That if you have a daughter, you failed as a man.

Kat: Yes, your surname is gone. Your bloodline is finished!

Blaque: Exactly, your firstborn is supposed to be a son. You, your second born is a son. How did you, how did you process all of that stuff, if ever? You know what I mean?

even my wife was worried. She’s like, ‘you know, your firstborn is not a guy, are you gonna be excited?’

Kat: You know what I think it was an outside thing, because I, I didn’t get that, right. Like, I got the surname thing but I’m like, the way the world is going anyway I wonder if the surname thing is actually gonna work out. Like I wonder if 10 years from now people won’t be going the other ways. But I didn’t have that and I think it’s so weird that I didn’t have that that even my wife was worried. She’s like, “you know, your firstborn is not a guy, are you gonna be excited?” And like anyone will tell you, that knows me, that my daughter is my girl. You know like we hang out… and I mean my son is coming to his own now. But my daughter and I are very close. I guess my son and I are very close as well.

Blaque: He needs to go get a job, he is 1.

Kat: Unemployed youth. I was telling my wife that I have this unemployed youth in my house and now he’s keeping me awake.

Blaque: He needs to sort his life out.

Kat: Because like she’s going to school you can say she is using her potential to earn! But anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal for me but outside it was like, “a girl, you know” like everybody will be… they wouldn’t say “better luck next time”, but they were like, “how are you dealing with it? Are you gonna go for round two because now, and now your firstborn… man,” and it didn’t hit for me. I didn’t identify with that. Just because your kid is your kid, you know.

An Opportunity to be Different

I think the system was more shocked than I was, or more disappointed than I was, and I had to own that. But it was also an opportunity to be different. Say, not like confront them and make it a thing, but to say actually “I’m cool that it’s a girl.“ Also, I got raised by ladies. So I’m very comfortable around ladies, in a legit way. Obviously. But I’m very comfortable. I mean in the house now, before Bokang came, I was the only guy. So with our nanny, with our two dogs, who are both female. When I was at home I just lived with ladies. So for me it wasn’t a thing.

Blaque: You are asserting your authority I see, even with the dogs, bro.

Kat: You know I was just like, “hey, everyone! Hey, fall in line here!” So it wasn’t a thing and and I even started questioning myself. “Is it because I don’t have a dad that I can’t identify with this thing? Should it be a problem? Are you being a man, you know, because men mind this thing?” And I was like no, a child is a child. And and you become a father to that child and you have max 18 years to make this person the next carrier of the Gospel if they choose so.

A child is a child… You have max 18 years to make this person the next carrier of the Gospel if they choose so… I don’t think gender matters for that.

 

To change this world better than you could have changed it and to touch people’s lives! And to say this is why I’m here. And I don’t think gender matters for that.

So yeah, like I think I struggled because the world struggles, but then I had to pull myself towards myself to say “does it really bug you?” Because even with this one, when we were pregnant, I knew it was a boy. I don’t know how I knew, just like I knew this one was a girl, before anyone told me. But I wasn’t more excited and I again searched myself to say “Should I be?” I was actually saying that I’m gonna have this unemployed guy in my house and now…

Blaque: Hey I am going to chill here and play playstation …

Kat: I think it is that thing. I read an article that said that in some region in India they haven’t had a girl in two years, because when a girl is born they terminate. I mean when I when they find out the sex they terminate, because it is seen as no value than a guy. And I think maybe it’s a morph or a another strand but of this thinking of the boy is better and then it leads to stuff like that.

Why Is Black Fatherhood Harder?

Blaque: So bro being a father is hard, I mean if you’ve been a father for two seconds, and I mean you’re present, you want to be there, you love your wife, you love your kids, you love Jesus, you know, it’s a hard job. It’s not an easy job. And we don’t want you guys to think that as we are chatting we might sound like we’ve figured out stuff but we haven’t at all. It’s again, because of the grace of God over our lives. So being a father is hard. Do you think it’s harder being a black father? You know what I mean, with all the stereotypes, with all the stigma, with the… again the lack of black fathers, the legacy we have? So, do you think it’s hard just being a black father?

At some point, my father stayed a block from where I stayed, with another family.

We Don’t have our own Dads

Kat: Yah, I think so and I’m not also trying to victimise us or anything like that, or play the victim. I do think it’s harder because firstly I’m coming in with a grudge, right? So I don’t have a dad, and I don’t know why… like, you know why, but you don’t know why! He’s never sat me down or written a letter to say “listen guy” and you’re either…  so for me, I never knew him, so it’s not that deep. But for someone, they are probably struggling with rejection, they’re struggling with their masculinity and I mean, I didn’t know my father but I knew that he had another family. So, it is actually a wild story. At some point, my father stayed a block from where I stayed, with another family.

Blaque: But you’ve never seen him?

Kat: So, I saw him twice.

Blaque: In your life?

Kat: Maybe three times in my life. But we’ve never had a conversation. And he had a family. And he was a family man. So obviously, I was a bit… I think I was in high school at the time, and the thought does go through your mind: “so he’s capable.” So you take that with you, you carry that with you. Everything is done and defeated at the cross. But because we are under the sun, S-U-N, on earth you have scars that are there.

Blaque: Yeah they are there – they are there.

Kat: They are consequence of those decisions. So I think that makes it a bit more difficult because that situation is more prevalent in black men, in black households. So compared to everyone, so even just that. We carry that. So, there is that that you’re stepping in with a blurred view. If you didn’t have Jesus to redeem that view, you are seeing your life, first of all. Right?

We Lack Resources and Mentors

Secondly, one of the things that I’ve seen is that on any level kids need resources, right? Like anything, so I’m not… so you can go as far as to say they must go to the best private school. They need an education its a resource. So you come in and because of the legacy, and because of where we are as black people in terms of transferring wealth, you don’t have resources. Right? You are you are packing through. That’s another strain and I think it makes it hard. Thirdly, there is no mentorship. Like you don’t know you’ve just… the amount of black marriages that you can look up to is limited as is.

Blaque: Yeah bro that’s another thing. Sheesh.

Kat: That’s my thing. And remember, that plays a role in your fatherhood. So, you’ve just started figuring out how are you a black men who gets married in their twenties and their marriage works. We don’t know that.

Blaque: Yeah – we don’t have a picture of that.

Support for Newly-weds is Thin

Kat: My mom just told me that she told someone about our story, which I don’t think it’s amazing, and that person said it is impossible. It’s impossible for people to get married that young.

Blaque: That young, in their twenties, black people.

when I’m gonna do 96km don’t tell me I am going to eat a banana. Tell me I’m going to have blisters and I’m gonna have to go to therapy!

Kat: Black people and they are still together now. Five years and they are fine. So, so you’re already learning that, you have no reference point. Church deals with real marriage surface. They don’t, my experience is, they don’t equip you to do the long haul. You know when I’m gonna do 96km don’t tell me I am going to eat a banana, tell me I’m going to have blisters and I’m gonna need to take off time, I’m gonna have to go to therapy, whatever.

The Black Fatherhood Bar is Low

So, I think it’s those legacies, the deficiencies are our legacy. And then on top of that you have people praising you for doing the bare minimum which messes with your mind sometimes, if you’re not focused. Then you think, actually cause, so I always tell Rene if she’s going somewhere, and I’m staying with the kids, I’m not doing her a favour. I’m parenting. It’s what I’m supposed to do.

Blaque: Amen! We are not babysitters bro!

if she’s going somewhere, and I’m staying with the kids, I’m not doing her a favour. I’m parenting. It’s what I’m supposed to do.

Kat: And also I’m not like if there is some point out there, I don’t get an extra point. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. And that’s different from “I’m minding these kids because my wife is going out. This is how much of a good guy I am”. That is a different philosophy all together, because then “I’m beasting out, man, I’m yeah!” But when I’m like “no, calm yourself, you are like, if you’re not doing this, you’re actually not doing your job.”

Blaque: You are not fathering, yeah.

Kat: So I think that messes with you and, compounded with the other things, you you tend to fade quickly as a black dad. And also we are not, as black people, we don’t have networks. We don’t function that way.

We Don’t have Deep Community Networks

Blaque: Yeah bro! Ironically, you know what I mean, we are the people with Ubuntu but ironically…

Kat: We don’t have network where I can say “listen Blaque I am fading as a father, lets have a chat. I am fading, I don’t know what I’m doing. But, because we can be honest, it’s tough.

Blaque: It’s tough!

Kat: It’s tough you like I am seeing … I don’t know how many times I tell myself (because I talk to myself) where I am like “Kat you are seeing your life here.” Like last night… yesterday I slept at 2am because I just couldn’t sleep and I was tired. And I’ve told you my routine for church, and I had to wake up and do that at 6, to make sure the family gets to church. Again, servant leadership. You create the right environment so that people can go see Jesus. Because it’s hard. It’s hard. It’s two kids. They both need to be bathed. Both need to be fed. Yeah, and when I’m doing that, I’m not like “Oh, ooh!”

Blaque: Yeah “look at me!”

Kat: Or “Ohhhh, like this is so fulfilling, my purpose in my life.”

Blaque: While you are playing worship music in the background bro!

Our Scars Affect our Parenting

Kat: Yeah – I’m like I am tired, I am grumpy, I am thinking to myself the Word better be good because like this is hard. So yah, I think it makes it tough. Like the background to get us to where… and also there are so few of us who are there that you don’t have a reference point! Like I don’t have a lot of people to call to say “it’s going well” or “it’s not.” So bottom line, you don’t have guidance. So you don’t have a measuring stick to know what you’re doing. You come in with baggage – a lot – that you don’t know how to deal with that you still carry.

Blaque: From your own scars, from your lack of relationship with your father.

Reactions to Black Fatherhood: Overpraise or Disbelief

Kat: And obviously they permeate, right? They permeate into your marriage, they permeate into your kids and how you treat them. Then it’s hard. And thirdly, the world doesn’t see us. So each time I tell people I’m a black father that’s engaged I am wary of saying ‘good’, because I don’t know. I don’t know if engaged means good. Because that is another level, right? Like God can say “I’m a good father” and I don’t think it’s because he’s just engaged. There is another level I am still learning. So I tell people. They either overpraise me, or they don’t believe me.

That’s another burden of a black dad… You are the culprit. Always.

That’s another burden of a black dad, of a black father. You are the culprit. Always. They assume “are you helping?” Like I don’t know how many times my mom is asking me, “Are you helping Rene with the kids?”

Blaque: Cause the assumption is cos you are a black dad you are not gonna do it.

Kat: And then, we have fragile egos, you ask me that 5 times and I’m like, “Ah Yekha. I’ll be that guy, I’ll show you that I’m that guy that doesn’t help.” So. Yeah, I think it’s tough. I think it’s tough and I think we… like it’s just, getting into the game is tough.

Can we Blame our Fathers?

Blaque: No, I hear you bro. I know we’ve been chatting and you know, somebody might be watching this and they are saying “yo listen, I agree 100% with you guys, but you might be failing to acknowledge that for other fathers, in fact the generation before us and even two generations before us, other black males particularly, were prevented from being fathers because of the history of our country.”

Where you think of migrant labourers, who left the villages, came to the city. And when you actually think about the environment they lived in in hostels… I mean I come from from Thembisa and there were at least like two big hostels in the south of Thembisa and the west of Thembisa. And all the things, like the whole… the only thing those guys did is work, come back. The only entertainment is alcohol and there’s just nothing else that’s recreational.

generations before us, other black males particularly, were prevented from being fathers because of the history of our country.

They didn’t have the luxury of playing golf, the luxury of going on to the streets and jogging and you know what I mean? Like all the benefits and privileges we have now where your kids are driving you nuts and you are just like “alright right cool, at 4am I’ll go on the road and jog.” Just to de-stress or whatever you know, I mean or play golf over the weekend. But they were prevented from leaving the hostel first of all. So it was illegal for them to even go into the city to do anything else. They were prevented from mixing with other cultures. So they couldn’t even get benefits from other cultures.

And the only thing that they were left with is work and alcohol. And so as much as we know that there’s a legacy of absent fathers, the other people were prevented. Any thoughts on that, any comments on that?

Kat: I think it’s fair that, and I agree with you, I don’t wanna under underplay the effect of that. Because it’s actually what we are dealing with. We are dealing with the symptoms or the outcome. But that says why we are here; why we are where we are. And I still think that we are where we are because of that. Because I spoke about how black fatherhood has not matured like with other races. It couldn’t have been because our fathers worked and drank. And I mean, I’m not talking about even our fathers I am talking about their fathers. So they had no chance. We are where we are because of Jesus and because of the exposure we got.

How do we Change Black Fatherhood?

Blaque: Amen, yeah.

We could be the generation that changes the trajectory of black fathers

Kat: What I am saying is that we know of the legacy and they have paid the cost for it and we are paying part of the cost for it. But if we want it to change, there’s a cost to be paid and I’m saying that we need to pay it. And it’s hard. We could be the generation that changes the trajectory of black fathers, of how black fathers are viewed. That change will cost. And I think, I mean, even if they… think about it, if that dad who worked at the mines and did that for 10 years, when he comes back what kind of father is he expected to be if that’s all he did? I mean what kind of a man…

Blaque: He hung out with other men.

Kat: Sure. And what kind of a man, what kind of a husband, you know? So it’s an almost an unfair ask. And I think we are there. But what I know is that if we don’t change it, then what has been done to our dads will carry on being done to generations to come. Only we can change that. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. I mean, I feel it myself, it’s tough. It’s tough being a dad because you are second guessing yourself. And also, just being a parent is hard work.

It’s tough being a dad because you are second guessing yourself. And also, just being a parent is hard work.

Blaque: It is.

Kat: Plain and simple. And I want us to acknowledge our heritage – that that’s where we come from. And to honour their sacrifice. To say… they will say “I didn’t father you, but I worked so that you could… so that a generation after me, someone could go to varsity.” And I want to say “we honour that” by saying “then we will then recreate fatherhood that you were robbed of, so that your legacy is complete.” That the kid not only goes to varsity but is a good father.

Blaque: Amen.

I think it’s a very hard history and we were robbed of a lot of good fathers. And to honour them we will be good fathers.

Kat: And and that’s my view. I think it’s a very hard history and we were robbed of a lot of good fathers. And to honour them we will be good fathers.

Our History is not an Excuse

Blaque: That’s good, man. Yeah, so I think even with that said man there’s healing in the Gospel. And I think there’s no hope anywhere else besides the Gospel and even with acknowledging the brokenness of our history, that does not give you license to say well because my… Let’s say two generations from now, my dad says “well, my dad was not there,” you know what I mean? And then he’s like “no I’m bailing out.” And so we’re not we’re not even bringing up the point of history just so that there’s a scape goat.

You know if you’ve made bad decisions as a father. We are saying there is healing in the Gospel.

You know if you’ve made bad decisions as a father. We are saying there is healing in the Gospel. Go to the foot of the cross, be on your knees. Jesus will teach you how to be a man. He’ll forgive you for all your sins. And so there is healing and this is a good thing and it’s something that I think fathers need to hear.

There is Healing at the Cross of Jesus

And if you are watching this as well, you are a dude, and you have serious scars, and in fact both of us have scars from a lack of fathering in our lives when we were growing up. I think what we’re trying to do with this podcast is not to… like increase your pain, but to kind of say “yo, man, there’s healing in the gospel for you and maybe this is the time where you start processing the pain that you’ve had from the lack of relationship with your father. And this even might be a cool thing that you like, ‘yo, let me go watch it with my dad or send it to him.’ Whatever the case if there is still that relationship. If there isn’t yoh, man, Jesus is there and he’ll he’ll definitely provide healing, you know what I mean, through his good news.

Kat: And I think as a parting shot I’ll say, as well, just if you can, if you’re like brave enough, speak to someone. Say “listen, I’m broken.” Like, you don’t even have to justify your case, but to say “I’m broken, I don’t know how to be a dad and there’s this demand to be a dad.” And I think from that, from community again, you can be pointed to Jesus, you can be restored and we can father together. We can be a whole team of fathering people and start small but we can be the answer.

Blaque: Anything you would you would say to black fathers who are watching this? How to encourage them? Yeah, a black father who is starting out, a guy who’s probably married thinking about being a father. Or even single guys who are like “the reason why I’m not getting married is because I was burnt by my father, the lack of him being there.” What can you say to them?

Love your Kids

Kat: I think, one thing I would say is that the true requirement for being a black… for being a father, is love. If you can love your kids man, like none of us know or have it figured out. Even the guy that you look up to, who you’ve seen whatever kinda, no one has it figured out, right? So, you are actually not that far off the mark from everybody else, so don’t disqualify yourself. We’re all struggling. And secondly, we all have love to give. It can be small, it can be big. It’s there, it’s guaranteed, it’s there. It’s there for your mom, its there for your wife, its there for someone, there for your job. There is love.

Blaque: Yes

Kat: And that’s all you need for the kid, right? Because that will create the environment where you then hustle to provide for them. You then sacrifice your time. And I think the other thing is we as black people have lost community. Because back in the day, even if it wasn’t perfect, right? If there was a child walking on the street and they were hungry someone would feed them.

Blaque: Sure

Find a Community – Don’t Walk Alone

Kat: And I think if we could get so, my encouragement for a black dad is get a community. It doesn’t even have to be a black community. At this rate just get a community! Green, purple, whatever! Just get it. Just get it. And it will make life a bit easier for you because you won’t walk alone. Because it is a tough journey. And I really believe that I am not the most amazing person. And it sounds clichéd, but if I can do it then you can do it. Guaranteed you can do it.

And the last thing is I think it’s the answer for the country. And I know how that sounds. Like you can give me all the economic problems and all the social problems. And actually I know them and I get them and I still stand by this. That part of the solution is answering this call to be a dad to those people. So that they can then change. Cos the cycle only stops, any bad cycle, stops with love. For love is only thing that can stop a bad cycle. Nothing else, nothing else. Nothing, not education, not even wisdom, love. Love is the only thing that will stop this cycle. If you want to change the country, if you want to change where your family’s going, if you want to do something that’s beyond yourself. If you want to leave a legacy here, that’s the best way to do it.

Blaque: That’s good, bro. No, I appreciate that man. Thank you so much, brother. Thank you for inviting us into your home.

Kat: Thank you for having me, hope I didn’t confuse nobody.

Blaque: No, no, I bet you guys were encouraged and this was indeed helpful. And in fact there are other articles on the website that you can check out, especially the one about community on Ubuntu and what that means for us who live in Africa. And I did a thing on fatherhood as well. So please do check that out, it’s on The Gospel Coalition Africa website, and there’s other resources. But Kat, thank you man, really appreciate that, bro.

Kat: Thank you for having me guys!

Blaque: We will pray for black fathers, pray for for father’s in general. Again. Thank you for watching this and do follow us on our website, follow us on our social media and share the resources. We hope that it does bless and encourage you. That’s it from us, Grace and Peace.

In South Africa the dire state of black fatherhood is no myth. More than 60% of biological fathers don’t live with their children. Katlego and Blaque explore their personal experiences of growing up fatherless, becoming fathers themselves, and the challenges they face every day.

Kat: At some point, my father stayed a block from where I stayed, with another family.
Blaque: But you’ve never seen him?
Kat: So, I saw him twice.
Blaque: In your life?

Kat: Maybe three times in my life. But we’ve never had a conversation. And he had a family. And he was a family man. So obviously, I was a bit… I think I was in high school at the time. The thought does go through your mind: “so he’s capable.” So you take that with you, you carry that with you. Everything is done and defeated at the cross. But because we are under the sun, S-U-N, on earth you have scars that are there.

With real life stories like this as the norm, is it any wonder that South Africa is being rocked by waves of anger towards men – giving birth to the outcry around #menaretrash

There is Hope for Black Fatherhood

But there is still hope for Black Fatherhood in South Africa. Through a saving faith in Christ we can meet our real Father, our Creator – and learn from Him what it really means to be a man, a father, a husband, and a servant of the Lord.

in God’s grace and his mercy, there’s a new generation of black fathers that are just stepping up.

“in God’s grace and his mercy, there’s a new generation of black fathers that are just stepping up. And again, not of our own strength, not out of anything that we’ve done in our cleverness. But again, I think it’s just the mercy of God in our lives.”

#TGCAfrica #BlackFatherhood #BlackFathers #SouthAfrica #FaithinChrist #Hope

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