Fathers reflect on fatherhood during lockdown

Roselyne Sachiti Features, Health and Society Editor

Today is father’s day. This year, the day is celebrated under unique circumstances as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fathers, especially those working from home as a result of  Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, and still staying with their children have taken this time to create stronger bonds.

For some, the lockdown has resulted in them reflecting on the kind of future they would like to build for their kids post Covid-19.

I spoke to several fathers who reflected on their experiences during the lockdown.

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George Mapuvire of Harare a father of four said working from home made him instil discipline in his children, something he could not have done given his usually busy work schedule.

“I have managed to give my kids so much attention than before. I now have time to help them brush their teeth before going to bed, give them a hug and kiss,” he said.

However, he adds, lockdown has been a difficult time for him as a dad as it has reduced his income.

“Before the lockdown, I had other informal sources of income as the salary is never enough. I cannot do those things because of lockdown restrictions,” he said.

While he misses social gatherings with friends he says whatever he does with his family matters.

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“Just sitting down and watching television together, laughing and dancing a bit brings family unity and fun. My kids have taught me the voosho dance,” adds Mapuvire.

Saxon Zvina of Harare has a five- year old daughter Ruvarashe Maryline.

He says the lockdown made him realise the importance of making good property investments.

Zvina also says it is important for fathers working in the diaspora to invest back home.

“It’s important to have different sources of income and be your own employer.

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“It is also vital to have your own property. Most of our colleagues affected by lockdowns and job losses returned to Zimbabwe and had no choice but stay at their parent’s homes or with relatives.

“There is need to save money and stock up on essentials,” added Zvina.

Mr Pomerai Coffee of Harare said as a dad, lockdown made him the “priest” as he led his family’s prayer sessions.

“I developed tolerance and self- control over the behaviour of each family member. I learnt much on how the family spends their day,” he revealed.

He said while it was difficult fending for the family during lockdown, he soldiered on to ensure his offspring was well taken off.

Another father Alex Kautsiro said the lockdown period taught him to be emotionally available for his family.

“I think most of us really love our children but they should see that we love our wives and are friends in the genuine sense.

“This makes being at home enjoyable. Sharing everything from fun to frustrations etc becomes very easy,” he said.

As a father, who has to provide for his family, Kautsiro also emphasised the need to have an investment portfolio that is diverse.

“We make the mistake of thinking that you can only invest when you have a huge surplus but whatever you can save goes a long way in creating comfort for your family,” he noted.

Yet another dad Phibeon Chiwara said the first week of the lockdown made him realise that while friends and the extended family are important, the primary buddies must be one’s children and wife.

“Our primary friends must be our wives and children otherwise the lockdown would have been unbearable.”

The lockdown, he adds, also made him view life differently.

“I realised there are always too many things lacking in the home while we spent too much time on non-productive activities.

“More importantly, the earlier you realise the Cartoon Network and Indian movies are more entertaining than sport channels, the quicker you enjoy spending time at home,” explained Chiwara.

Alvios Gopo, who is also a dad said the lockdown has taught him to grow his own vegetables and cut down on costs.

“I have learnt that as part of savings, you should not buy everything that is consumed at home. In the backyard, you can grow green leafy vegetables, potatoes, and even rear chicken for meat and eggs. These activities in addition to the small jobs that we have usually pay good money and also help fathers exercise,” he said.

While some enjoy the company of their children during the lockdown, there are fathers who cannot be with their loved ones as a result of lockdown movement restrictions. To reduce the spread of Covid-19 borders are closed to human traffic save for essential service providers like haulage truck drivers.

One such father is Mr Darlick Moyo of Hatfield whose two sons work and live in South Africa.

“My kids wanted to take me to Victoria Falls for Father’s Day but they had to cancel the trip as a result of the lockdown. Last year they came back to Zimbabwe and we travelled to Kariba for Father’s Day. I will be lonely without them this year,” he said.

Then there are men like James Mamombe, of Newlands, Harare who are not yet biological fathers but take care of children of their extended family members.

“I am staying with three nephews and pay for school fees. To me they are like my biological kids. I have been teaching them Mathematics and Accounting during the lockdown. We have bonded quite well,” he said.

As the country celebrates the role played by fathers, let us thank all those who go out of their way to ensure their families are fed. These are the everyday heroes that are usually not celebrated.

Happy Fathers Day.

HERALD