Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
FATHERS are expected to provide for and protect their families, but for Ms Happiness Sibanda (32) from Nkayi, Matabeleland North, just thinking about her father brings sadness, unanswered questions and lost love.
Ms Sibanda and her four siblings all grew up without a father and were raised by four different men and their mother Ms Sharon Sibanda (50), who lived in Emakhandeni before relocating to South Africa.
Happiness is the eldest among her siblings and each year as the world commemorates Father’s Day, as it did yesterday, she curses herself.
“Even my children ask whether their grandfather is alive, but I don’t have answers,” she said.
She, however, said it’s even more painful for her younger brother Mr Clinton Ncube (28), who is based in South Africa.
“We are not struggling or anything like that, but we want to know who we are. We want to know our identities and this is even more painful for my younger brother Clinton. What I know is that my father comes from Tsholotsho, Sipepa area, and his name is Doctor Sibanda.
“I have not seriously looked for him, but there are people who know where he can be found. But the situation is different for my young brother, as he desperately wants to know who his father is,” said Ms Sibanda.
She said there are things that her young brother wants to know about his paternal relatives.
“He wants to know his identity and what we know is that his father’s name is Dumisani Ncube and used to work as a Chronicle newspaper vendor, who operated in North End suburb. We don’t know where to start searching for him. So that is the biggest challenge we have at the moment and our mother does not want to discuss the matter with us.
“We have stopped trying to get answers from her, as it might seem like we want to fight or disrespect her, but we would be just seeking for answers,” she said.
Ms Sibanda can be contacted on 0718128231 and her brother Clinton Ncube on +27618839567.
While Ms Sibanda and her siblings have never known their father, the situation is different for Ms Correl Gasela (61) from Lobengula West in Bulawayo, whose father, Mr Daniel Gasela (82), disappeared from their rural home in Lupane seven months ago. Ms Gasela, said Father’s Day commemorations bring painful memories for her family, as they have been left with more questions than answers on his whereabouts.
“We don’t know whether he is still alive or dead, and today’s Father’s Day makes it more difficult as we think about him. We don’t know what happened to him. He was a pillar in the family and was the only remaining elder from our paternal side,” said Ms Gasela.
She said when her father disappeared, they initially could communicate with him on his cellphone, but whenever they reached the area he would have described, he could not be found.
She said several search parties were dispatched, but none of them yielded results.
Culturalist and social commentator Mr Cont Mhlanga said a father defines a child’s identity and that is why almost all children that never have relationships with their fathers try to locate them.
“Your identity defines who you are and the identity is structured in such a way that it is situated within the paternal side of your family. That is why as people grow up and in their interaction with others, they try to identify who their fathers are, as this defines them. Also, as you grow up, you might have children and you will also need to pass on the identity to your children,” said Mr Mhlanga.
He said in most instances, sour love relations between couples contributed to absent fathers, as mothers take away the children by virtue of being granted custodianship.
Mr Mhlanga said it is, however, important that children be allowed to connect with their roots despite couples having estranged relationships.
He said there is also a rare breed of children that are assigned family roles at birth, who at all costs should connect with their family.
This mainly refers to cases where a child suffers misfortune by not connecting to their paternal roots.
“These are special types of children and this does not happen to all the children. This child would be responsible for his or her family lineage, which is given to them at birth. This is not just an ordinary child and in most cases such children are even hidden from their families as it will be known that families will fight over them.
“In most cases when this child is not listened to, that’s when they start becoming ill or something happens to them, which will then bring attention that they need to be taken to their paternal family,” said Mr Mhlanga. – @nqotshili