Something else I left out of yesterday post about Father’s Day: It must have struck many of us that this year Father’s Day fell on the same day as Youth Day: June 16.
It was an interesting coincidence in a society that’s struggling to make sense of things like youth lostness and high numbers of children living without fathers. And yet there was nary a remark on the coincidence in the media I saw.
I was looking out for some thought leader or a government department to say something about the perfect (mis)match – youth and fathers. The subject of fathering young men is crying out for an author, I believe. If it’s not an oxymoron, government leadership will also help. God knows young males need fathering, even if they don’t always pose their precarious existence in those terms.
I know, I know: who will father the young men when the older men who run this place have left them to flounder on their own. I do by the way suspect the old men are also losing a sense of their place and identity in this fast changing culture. In an already rapidly changing world, Africa is changing very fast, and it is proving very difficult for traditions of what it means to be a man, a father, or a parent, to adapt.
In addition to young men and their lack of strong fathering, it was a splendid opportunity to make some observations about young dads. Adolescent fathers in particular do need much more attention and support than they currently do, just like adolescent mothers, starting with support around reproductive health education. Kids having kids is a significant problem in South Africa. There is some South African research on the problem of having children when you can’t wipe your own bum, but by any means not enough.
Sepaking of reproductive health education I am of the view that as a society we overestimate what young men and women know about the basics of a healthy sexuality. Oh, they might look at rude images on their mobiles, talk like experts, and dance like dance hall supestars, but most of it is a pose. That period of life is rich in sexual myths, hyperbole, half-truths, insecurities, and all manner of fronting. Young men and women need clear and simple sex education. to be
The basics I’m talking of are the really elementary stuff. Like, hey son, this is how you please a woman, by like asking what she likes. Like, young lady, you do know that you can get great pleasure from touching your own vagina, yes? Like, dear people, sex without condoms does not just prevent HIV, it keeps the baby doctor away. Like, yes we all know that without a condom it may be great and whatever, but you do know that you can have a baby even if it’s just for like 2 minutes. Like, think about it chief, whatever your friends told you about nama nameng, children are for life. and they need things like milk, food, clothes, schools fees and way too much time than you have as a growing young person yourself.
Maybe the coincidence deserved more than a passing comment.