The Sunday Mail
TODAY, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating Father’s Day.
But what exactly does the day mean and are families doing enough to celebrate the men in their lives?
Similarly, how should the day be commemorated?
The dad-centric day is believed to be a time for people to celebrate the men in their lives. For children, it is a day to show appreciation for their fathers and father-figures.
Started by Sonora Smart Dodd a few years after Mother’s Day was first celebrated, the first-ever Father’s Day is understood to have been commemorated on June 19, 1910 its main objective being that of creating an official equivalent for both genders.
However, there is a general sentiment among males that the day is less valued compared to Mother’s Day.
“I know for a fact that my wife and kids will not do anything for me on Sunday (today). In fact, they have never done anything! But, as a family, we have never failed to honour her (wife/mother) with all sorts of gifts and treats on Mother’s Day. Failure to do so often leads to serious trouble,” said Gift Musekwa, an informal trader who specialises in tyre maintenance.
His colleague, only identified as SaMutoko, weighed in.
“I have never received anything and feel under appreciated despite the massive sacrifice that I do for the family. Zvinorwadza hazvo asi ndatojaira (It’s painful but I’m now used to it).”
Some fathers were left incapacitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I lost my formal job last year and things have not been well for me since then. I am always quarrelling with my wife because we are failing to make ends meet. Under such circumstances, I don’t think they (family) have any reason to celebrate me,” said a dejected Takura Muonde, a qualified fitter and turner.
Barber Tavaziva Zinto said he feels there are a lot of disparities in communities with society largely appreciating, celebrating and protecting women more than men.
“If you notice, the noise that was made over Mother’s Day is not the same with Father’s Day. I feel there is need for society to appreciate us more. Radio personality Tilda Moyo organised a trip where some women spent the weekend in Kariba as part of Mother’s Day celebrations, but nothing has been said or organised for fathers and that says a lot,” argued Zinto.
However, there was a video on social media showing that Tilda Moyo had actually gone on a venture with some fathers.
“Men are always under pressure because of family expectations that are at times too much. Probably this explains why prison statistics show that we have more men than women behind bars. Some of the pressure leaves many with little or no option but to resort to crime to meet certain demands.”
However, it is not all doom and gloom.
“The Covid-19 and resulting lockdowns gave families more time to spend together and strengthen their bonds. Besides, the unprecedented deaths led many family members to appreciate each other more. It feels good to be cherished,” added Zinto.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) deputy spokesperson Principal Correctional Officer Peter Chaparanganda tries to explain.
“Fathers do not always enjoy the glow of intimacy and admiration that is usually given to mothers.
“They have a cultural image which paints them as breadwinners, disciplinarians, authority figures which has over the years led to their soft side being forgotten.
“Often times, fathers are usually absent, working for their families and this has led children to be closer and appreciative of their mothers more,” notes the ZPCS official.
Some families duly observe the day while others that have not done so in the past are beginning to react.
The way we celebrate a dad, grandfather or any other men who shape us differs with families, cultures and above all resources in question.
In some cases, fathers get special treats like holidays, eating out or visiting an entertainment joint for braai and other activities. Tangible gifts are also thrown into the mix.
“Personally, I know that we struggle even to have the little things in life, thus I do not want to burden my family by expecting too much from them. A home cooked meal, spending the day with them and probably a happy Father’s Day message(s) will be good enough for me,” said Tinashe Kavande.
Gift of life
Without doubt, Covid-19 changed lives for many.
Several people lost their loved ones, including fathers and father-figures.
“We lost a lot of lives to Covid-19. Some families were robbed of their fathers therefore being alive to this day is actually a privilege that we ought to celebrate earnestly,” reckons renowned musician and Salvation Army Pastor, Mechanic Manyeruke.
The revered man of the cloth said he has in the past received gifts from his family.
The day, he added, makes him feel honoured and respected as a father and grandfather.
“In the past two years, we largely received monetary gifts via the phone while others sent messages. The lockdown period was difficult for many as most people lost their jobs. We all had to adjust and find ways to commemorate the day but without straining each other and that is what we are still doing,” revealed Pastor Manyeruke.
The “Makorokoto” hit singer also feels obliged to pamper father-figures in his life.
“My dad is now late, so I usually give a gift to my uncle who is the father-figure in my life. I also take time to appreciate one or two elders in church or our community every year,” he said.
Warriors cheer leader Chris Romario Musekiwa traditionally spends Father’s Day with his family and receives gifts from his wife and children.
Also, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the family would enjoy a special meal or braai at different family friendly joints.
“Covid-19 changed a lot of things. People lost jobs and financial constraints weighed us down.
“However, we adopted a new lifestyle and found new ways to celebrate such days.
“This time around we will attend church, thereafter, stay at home and I will cook for my family in appreciation of the gift of life and family. I now appreciate this day because of a rough patch we went through in the last two years,” said Musekiwa.
Zimbabwe Netball Association organising secretary Alex Masimba said he was grateful of the appreciation he has been getting from his family over the years.
“It keeps me in line. They always remind me of my vital role in the family,” he said.
Every year, the family celebrates the day at home where they enjoy a special meal and take time to share speeches.
His daughter Nicole usually recites poems for him on the day.
“Things have been tough in the past two years. However, they say where there is a will, there is a way… I feel these days should be more about the sentimental value. You can cook together as a family or do a massage.”
Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Reverend Xolani Moyo said the day is not only about families but society at large.
Appreciation, he said, should go to everyone who has played a role in someone’s life be it emotionally, mentally or even financially.
“Church should also take advantage of such days to put together events that equip and remind men of their roles at home and in the society because it is largely through men that we can achieve a gender-based violence-free society as well as achieve gender equality in all spaces.”
Freight company, Reliable Shipping operations manager Busywas Mapondo reckons men play a critical role in stabilising families by giving guidance and providing for them.
“Father’s Day should be a time for men to share experiences and ideas on how to create a peaceful and violence free society.
My wife usually has something for me and that makes me feel appreciated, but there is a need for the society at large to challenge the norm that places fathers in a difficult situation,” said Mapondo.