As many as 60% of children in the country under the age of 10 don’t live with their biological fathers, the second highest rate of absence in sub-Saharan Africa after Namibia. This compares to one-third in the US.
This according to a study by University of Johannesburg researcher Zoheb Khan, who wrote that South Africa has one of the highest rates of absent fathers in sub-Saharan Africa.
South Africa’s statistics are influenced by the history of migrant labour argues Khan.
Expropriation of the land of black Africans by colonial authorities, coupled with the levying of taxes, forced men (and later, women) to move to the growing cities to earn an income, while their wives and children stayed in the rural reserves or “homelands” are all factors believed to have contributed to the current situation.
Kabelo Chabalala Founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM) spoke with host Gugu Mhlungu about the statistics of involved versus absentee fatherhood in South Africa.
Chabalala says more often than not fatherhood is reduced to men who are financially equipped, forgetting those in the lower LSM.
We talk about fathers as people who live in Centurion and Houghton, forgetting the men who work twelve hours a day, the security guards or those who work at food outlets.— Kabelo Chabalala Founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM)
Chabalala explains that those who earn less and are living below the poverty line don't possess the luxury of spending the time to be involved in their children's lives compared to fathers who are more affluent.
Another interesting element that we need to look at is how patriarchy is working against men says Chabalala.
You find men who say that 'I'm babysitting'. You don't babysit but parent your own child.— Kabelo Chabalala Founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM)
Take a listen to the full conversation in the audio below: