“A man claiming to be Malema’s father told Drum magazine Feb 2012: ‘Yes, I am Julius Malema’s father. He’s my son. But he does not care about me and when he passes me in the street in one of his big cars he looks at me as if I am a stranger’. What the Hell does he expect? Hell, he deserves that, Juju does not owe his (sic) a shit!”
I said this (provided the story was true) because I certainly did not understand what the old-man expected from Malema because he admitted to Drum that “he actually left when he [Juju] was seven and starting school” – something Juju apparently disputed in his biography An Inconvenient Youth. Malema is quoted in the book saying of his father: “I never had a father in my life. I had my mother and my grandmother. I didn’t know anything else, why do I need a father?”
I admit that everyone and anyone had and still has an opinion on old man’s silly ordeal but such opinions – in my opinion and from experience of living without my biological father who, strangely, as with many things, I stayed in the same village with, the man I used to pass on the streets and never greeted because I did not see the need to just as he did not seen any to greet me – are very limited. Or like I told a friend of mine who I grew up and went to school with: “If you had never grown up without your father you’d know”. This because my friend was taken by surprise to my Facebook comment, saying: “No Moses [my apartheid name, that is], just a greeting, at least to show some respect”. What respect? I wondered deep down in my heart at my friend.
I specifically believe (and excuse me Juju, no offence) people like Malema’s alleged father do not deserve any sympathy from anyone, including their abandoned wife and kid(s) – except their own family. I mean how do you respect a man who had, say, abandoned his wife/spouse and his child(ren) for whatever reason for many years and only to come back into their lives later?
For example, here is what I told my friend when he told me about greeting my bio father “to show some respect”:
“Wilfred here’s something you may not know: Until 2003, the year I completed my matric – despite my biological father living in the same village as I, despite my late mother and everyone in the village (urself included) telling me that he’s my father and that I am as intelligent as he, despite being a Counsellor for my village (God knows for how long) – I had never spoken to my father. This is because of him being my father and out of respect, I expected him to make the first move by coming at home and say his story will parents being there and not on the street.
For 17 years (my age at the time when I completed matric in 2003, and the first time I spoke to my bio father) I had never spoken to him nor had I made any attempts to talk to him. Neither had he made any attempts to come forward and claiming and confessing his being my father. Never. And like Julius does his father – we would pass one another on eh streets without saying ‘hello’. I was bitter then, but I have gone past that stage. Now I greet him and pass.
All these things depends Willy. To show that I have forgiven him, I do not have t build him a house and or give him money as Malema’s alleged father expects of him. No, I don’t have to. and maybe Juju has made peace with it, hence he does not want to see the old man.
For example, back then before I spoke to my bio father one-one-one and even after my mother told me he was my bio father, whenever people told me how intelligent I was like my father or how much I looked like him, I would say, and this is true: ‘My father does a long time ago after he was ran over by a train, i never knew him. So this guy you claim is my father, I do not know him’. I said that then because of anger. But I have moved on now.
In the report, Malema is quoted in his biography ‘An Inconvenient Youth’ as denying knowing or ever seeing his father: ‘I never had a father in my life. I had my mother and my grandmother. I didn’t know anything else, why do I need a father?” Malema said this (I can imagine and I know very well Willy) out of anger and frustration and now that he know his alleged biological father – so what? Build him a mansion like he did his mother?”
As I have warned from the start my analysis of negligent and irresponsible fathers who had abandon their children for years and only to suffer alone with their mothers yet expecting them to accept them back into their lives with open arms might “across as quite bitter, and accompanied with anger and if that is how you see it, so be it. It probably is. Or not”. Frankly, I am not the only one to have been abandoned by my biological father. There are plenty and I sure as hell know of a lot of people in a similar position.
For example, the same friend of mine who bizarrely suggested I greet my bio father “to show respect” said that: “Eish, but sometimes it’s hurting Moses [me, that is]. I know the pain of growing without your biological father, I was once in that situation, but now I’ve made peace with it. Even now I don’t know where he is, and I don’t care. Now it makes sense why Juju is angry”. There are, of course, those who are worse. Some of those who are now family men and women were abandoned by their fathers for more than 20 years. Worse, others have never known their fathers altogether.
What worried me was Malema’s alleged father to go missing after Malema told him as a child to buy him a bicycle but never came back, and now after thirty years or so he comes (God knows from where) and expects Juju to accept him back into his life without any anger or some sort of animosity. Sies! Without shame he claims Juju would pass him on the street “in one of his big cars… as if I am a stranger”. Of course he’s a stranger. Hell any father is a stranger to his kids if he had abandoned them for years and for reasons he would only know of.
And what is funny with fathers like these – those who abandon their kids and only to resurface later in their adult-life – is that once you’ve sort of “have them in your life” they have expectations of us their “abandoned kids”. These include, among others, financial demands and or expectations. They would expect to be sent money every now and then (but mine doesn’t) and if they are lucky to have cellphones – they would send callbacks the whole bloody day.
After tracking down her father who had abandoned her and her mother for 29 years, one particular woman said: “Mine also expects that warm attention and he’s asked me for cash twice between the beginning of November  and now. I’m waiting for him to ask again and I’ll remind him he’s been awol for bloody 29 years so he’s got no right to keep asking me for cash”. The woman went on to mention later that fathers like Malema’s alleged “can go and jump”. “Where was he when Juju battled growing up without him?” she asked.
“The same should go to all the fathers who abandoned their children, including mine”, she said. Many other women had come to Malema’s defence from his alleged father for caring less about him, saying: “H e wasn’t there for Malema and it’s not Malema’s fault that his father never participated in his life. He must deal with his quilt (sic)”.
A week before Drum reported on Malema’s alleged reckless and negligent father – a radio presenter, Stella Sebalo, took her frustration to Facebook regarding such fathers. Sebalo said that “I hate all men who don’t support their kids”. “Don’t tell me about circumstances. No circumstances should make you not maintain your sprongs(sic)”, she warned.
Sebalo said that fathers who failed to maintain and look after their children would one day turn to Khumbulekaya programme on SABC 1 to ask assistance in tracking down the whereabouts of their children who they might have abandoned many years ago. “Which child?” asked Sebalo. “Shame on all of you little boys who shy away from their responsibilities [of looking after and taking care of their children]”.
Her comments had received 57 responses at the time of writing, many of whom, mainly women, agreed with her sentiments that all fathers should take full responsibility of their children and love them while at it. But of course we know this is not what all fathers do. It is again worth mentioning that of course not all fathers are as irresponsible and negligent as those mentioned Sebalo, including my bio father.
Please note that throughout this piece I would refer to Samuel Manyapye as “alleged father” because Malema himself – whose African National Congress Disciplinary Committee findings against him and other members of the youth league were confirmed and upheld by the ruling party’s Appeals Committee on 4 February 2012 – had neither confirmed nor denied Manyapye’s claim as his father because he could not be reached by Drum for comment at the time to print (my emphasis).
In his interview with the magazine 17-year-old Manyapye, said:
- He “want(s) to reconcile with the boy – he’s my flesh and blood. It hurts. I would die a happy man after sitting down and having a talk with him. I can imagine how he feels and I don’t blame him. I deserted him and his mother when I went to work on a gold mine in Orkney, but he’s still my son”,
- Malema has sisters/brothers (Onica, 31; Butsi, 29; Rethabile, 24; Portia, 22, Karabo, 18; Angie, 14 and Dimakatso, 13) from his wife, Rahaba, who he had stayed with after deserting Juju’s mother (my emphasis),
- “Juju wants a better life for all but he forgets, conveniently maybe, that charity begins at home”,
- Malema “promised to come [and visit us], but he still hasn’t. Maybe he’s ashamed of me. People tell him his father is poor and collects scrap metals”,
- “Julius said I disappeared when he was tiny, but I actually left when he was seven and starting school. He [Juju] says I didn’t send money when I was away and that’s why he doesn’t look after me. I wasn’t a good father. However, if he comes here I’ll apologise for hurting him”,
- “I feel hurt when I go past the big houses he built for his grandmother. We live in a shack. When it rains, we don’t sleep; the roof leaks and we get drenched”,
- “When I went to cast my vote in the general elections in 2009 I saw him. He just looked at me, turned and walked away”,
- “It is true. We have never met as a father and son. We avoid each other, passing one another on the street like strangers”,
- “I loved Mahlodi [Juju’s mother], but I never kept my promise to her. I said I would send her and our child money and promised to write to her. But I didn’t”,
- When juju started school he asked him to buy him a bicycle, but he instead turned his back on him and his mother and now “I don’t feature in his life. But I hope that one day he will forgive me”.
The alleged father had enough time to reconcile with Juju but he did not. He had enough time to patch things up with Malema long because he became famous until 4 February 2012 but he did not. For all these things he said above, he has no-one to blame but himself. And that just because Juju has built his granny a house and he now probably wants the same from him is just ridiculous and absurd.
Assuming the old-man is really Juju’s father as he claimed – he surely should know that by being someone’s father and seeing that person on the street does not give you the father a sudden access to him/her, that you all of a sudden claim fatherhood when you have not done that for many years (17 for me; about more than 30 for Juju; more than 29 for the woman mentioned before, and for others, more than 50 years) does not erase the fatherless years he/she had endured while being raised and sometimes abused by family members, including their grannies. It does not and it never did. Or at least it did not to me.
There is a very beautiful quote I love by Robert Kelly in one of his songs, Reality, that: “Any man can make a baby but it takes a real man to be a father”.
So whenever I come across irresponsibility and negligence on the part of some fathers close to me I make it my duty and tell them that: “the worse mistake as a father you can ever make in your life is to abandon your kids, to never look after them and thereby not loving them”. This is because – especially boys who’ve been abandoned as kids, well, some of them – these kids grow up being bitter and hating every male figure they come across in their lives. In a worse case scenario, others fall on the footsteps of their negligent and irresponsible fathers who had abandoned their mothers when they were still young.
Others, on the other hand and not wanting to be duplicates of their fathers – turn out to being good and responsible fathers to their children. In extreme cases, the latter even become quite overprotective of their children (boys and or girls), which can also be problematic because they do not want to be told one day that “you are [irresponsibly] just like you father”. It is therefore fathers like Samuel who people should not be surprised when some of us grow up to being angrier and bitter because we never had a “father figure” in our lives to show us how to kick a ball, something like that. Further, they should not confusing our “making peace with their negligence and irresponsibility” with forgiveness or with statements like “let us now put all of that behind us and move on” – something Samuel seems to expect of Malema. Which is unfair. No, you can’t, daddy!
When fathers like Samuel want to make peace with us their “abandoned” children they have to be honest and open, sincere and remorseful. And they have to mean every bloody word. That’s if we will ever get to see them before we depart from this world. They should further understand that there might be some resistance from us in that we may never want to see their sorry-ass faces nor hear anything from them. Never. In the end it would probably suite them well to seek forgiveness from their Creator and not us their kids. Where hostility and hatred prevail, they must just deal with and take it because it is of their own doing and no one else’s!
Now if you are a man who has abandoned his children/child and think one day they should accept your mistakes and forgive you for your own stupid irresponsibilities and negligence – daddy, go to hell!