Paternity is an issue that has always drawn my attention, especially regarding the different cultures around the world. I believe that, based on my own experience, there are many differences between being a father (in a pragmatic sense) in Xai-Xai or in Terrassa.
I have to admit that I have been really lucky of being raised, due to the efforts of our fathers –and especially our mothers-, in a more equal society. Yet, much remains to be done. However, when I walk through the Rambla street in my home town, I realise there is much more to do in Mozambique.
Through the Rambla street, I see fathers walking with their prams. Fathers who pick their children up from school and ask them what they had learnt. Fathers who bring their children to the park, swing them and have an afternoon snack together. The difference is even bigger when I go to a friend’s house, where fathers play with their children until their mother comes back home from work, fathers cook and give a bath to the children, etc.
I hate to generalise and I would not assume that all parents in Terrassa do these activities. However, figures are much higher here if we compared to Mozambique (at least in the region that I am familiar with).
During a Praia de Xai-Xai ceremony- I don’t remember what was being celebrated- I had to sit down near the men area. Being in this area meant having a chair and being the first to eat. Great! Then, my one year old daughter came to me and asked to be held, to eat and to play. So, I did it as usual. However, what really surprised me what that many men near me started to whisper, laugh and comment that “essa menina é filha de pai”. This expression, within this context and translated into the culture of Mozambiquemeans that she was being raised by his father instead of his mother. They were ironically saying that I was “under the thumb” and I did not know how to manage my house.
Then, I just smiled and thought that one of their children probably goes to Escolinha de Khanimambo and calls me a “dad”, as many of the children in the Foundation do- even though they have a father-. It always makes my head to spin to think that I have more than 200 children. I don’t know if it is ethically correct, but they spontaneously call me dad and they really feel it, as they come running to me every morning.
I have recently had a second daughter. I am sometimes afraid of the fact that my children are being raised in such a sexist society. My wish would be that my children get to learn from our home, khanimambo and our family all the things they want be able to learn from the olders in Praia de Xai-Xai.
One of the things I like most about my job is the education that we can provide to the new generations of Praia. I hope they will all learn these new values in order to respect and enjoy spending time with women and their children.
Being a father is a privilege, but to act as a father is even better.