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Our fathers back then: strict disciplinarians, but loving

27 Feb 2022 at 07:32hrs | Views
"WHAT time is it now, and where have you been?"  "Go back to where you have been, I will not have any of my children knocking at my door after 6pm!" (Uvela ngaphi ebusuku kunje, angiqoqodelwa ngumntwana emzini wami, buyela lapho ovela khona).

Those words are typical of the 1960s to the early 1970s parents.

Fathers used to be extremely strict disciplinarians and fearful figures who did not hesitate to mete out corporal punishment to their kids for any slight misdemeanours.

We would be allowed to go and play with our friends, or to attend the Boy Scouts Club and Girl Guides Club for boys and girls respectively or to go to the cinema hall to watch movies, or "ibhayisikopho", as we used to call it.

At exactly 5pm or 6pm it was a must for all children to be at home.

Once inside the house, children would retire to their "spare room" or "espeya" which was usually a room for the boy children.

The head of the house, the father, always sat in the sitting room, on his sofa which was strictly his alone and no one would sit on that chair even if the old man was absent.

In the living room children were not allowed to sit on the sofas.

They would sit down on the floor, and would huddle in a corner and converse in low and soft tones.

Any slight noise from the kids, the father would bark an order of silence and the children would fall silent immediately.

During those years the fathers were on the surface, more of authoritarians than loving parents, but behind that façade of strictness lay a very deep love for the family.

It was that strictness that groomed us into well-disciplined children in the 1960s and 1970s.

Our parents, especially the fathers, would literally force us to read books every evening.

I for one, and my elder brothers, Misheck and Francis, developed a very great and insatiable love for reading at a very tender age, and this has resulted in a strong and unshakable habit that has remained in me up to this day.

I always make it a point to read a book daily, be it a chapter or two on that book.

It does not matter how late into the night it might be, or whether I have taken a few bottles of the wise waters, but read I must, on a daily basis.

In 1972, I read my first ever novels, "The Famous Five" series and the "Secret Seven" series, by Enid Blyton, and later on ‘‘The Hardy Boys" series by Franklin W Dixon.

(By the way there was no person known as Franklin W Dixon, this was a pen name used by a variety of authors who wrote The Hardy Boys novels.)

As early as 1974, a few friends of mine and I staying in Sizinda Township, the likes of Wamundila Waliuya, Hlabathi Mbeba and Cyprian Gande joined Mpopoma Library in Mpopoma Township.

We were later on to migrate into reading thrillers authored by the likes of James Hadley Chase, Nick Carter, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Dan Brown and many others.

It was through the strictness of our fathers that a culture of reading was inculcated in most of the children of our generation.

During those days our fathers would always dress smartly during the weekends, in a British conservative style, mostly in Dugson Pure New Wool suits and milk white shirts and the neck tie was never left out.

This style of dressing was perhaps emulated from their then colonial masters.

What I noticed is that all the old men would be dressed in slightly oversized suits.

The jackets would be slightly longer than normal arm- length and would cover the fingers! Could they not buy proper fitting suits? Up to now this still remains a mystery to me.

But all the same, this taught us how to dress immaculately and to have a good taste for fashion.

Our generation is not one that has been found to be dressed shoddily or awkwardly.

Times have changed drastically. Presently, the 2000s type of fathers are a complete opposite of the fathers of 50 or 60 years back.

There is no longer than restriction of coming home after 5pm.

Children come home as late as 12 midnight and in worse case scenarios they do not sleep at home.

A child will tell you that he has been on a "night out" with friends.

Fathers no longer have any say, and no longer are they the fearful and strict disciplinarians.

All this seemingly stems from the issue of the so-called "rights".

Children will tell you of their constitutional rights, hence it becomes a bit of a challenge to instil discipline into the children.

All sorts of wayward behaviours are displayed by the kids nowadays.

On the other hand, there has been a complete metamorphosis as regards the behaviour of the modern fathers.

Fathers are now drinking at the bottle stores and shebeens with their children, fathers are now scrounging for beer and cigarettes from their children.

The type of language used by some old men is just ridiculous.

You hear old men talking unashamedly in local jargon slang.

Instead of an old man to give a proper greeting, they use such words as, "How far?" "Zithini lapho?" "Mina ngi swi". Times have indeed changed.

Our fathers were never seen to be hanging around the shopping centres as is the case nowadays.

The type of dressing that is put on by the modern fathers is something else.

You would find a grown up person putting on tight skimpy stretcher jeans and a tight T-shirt, or very tight shorts displaying his skinny and withered legs and a sleeveless vest.

Well, I guess the modern fathers are moving with the times and flowing with the tide.

What can one say?

Till we meet again next Sunday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and please give yourself time to read!

Feedback:  Clifford Kalibo/0783856228 / 0719856228/WhatsApp:  0779146957/Email:

Source - The Sunday News
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