Promoting men's care and protection of children
The Fatherhood Exhibition in Cape Town
Click on the photo for the enlargement and caption.
From: 15 to 26 July 2004
Official launch: 19 July at 2pm by the Premier of the Western Cape, Mr Ebrahim Rasool
Alternative venue: Department of African Studies Gallery, University of Cape Town
From: 29 July to 13 August 2004
For further details: Call Mr TC Mama on 021 695 3173
The Fatherhood Project
The exhibition is part of the first phase of the Fatherhood Project, initiated to stimulate public discourse around men and fathering by presenting an overwhelmingly positive portrait of South African men caring compassionately for children.
The full exhibition (which can be viewed in Langa and at UCT - see above) consists of approximately 120 photographs, featuring the work of a wide range of contributors, including some of South Africa's best-known photographers, as well as students and children using disposable cameras to portray their fathers and the care they provide. Three photographic essays, each an intimate portrayal of the life of an ordinary father, have been provided by celebrated South African photographers Paul Weinberg, Ruth Motau and George Hallett.
Perhaps the most profoundly affecting of the photographs exhibited are those taken by schoolchildren, many of whom come from poor families. These children, none of whom had any previous photographic experience, were given brief orientation and training, provided with disposable cameras, and requested to take pictures of their fathers or father figures at home. The resulting images are a powerful testimony to the enduring presence of committed fathers, even amongst the poorest communities. They also demonstrate the fathering role played by men who are not the biological fathers of the children for whom they provide care.
The Fatherhood Project exhibition has travelled to Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg in 2004, and will continue to travel around South Africa this year, before going to New York in March 2005. At each of these exhibitions, government and non-government organisations, as well as the private sector, have been invited to participate. Two large banners at the entrance to the exhibition juxtapose the modern-day experience of men. One is a collage of newspaper headlines and shocking photographs that document the abuse that women and children have been subjected to at the hands of men. The other pays homage to the Fathers of our Nation, epitomised by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The banners denote the crisis in which South African men find themselves today, and the hope for a redemptive future symbolised in the paternal figure of Madiba. The exhibition is annotated by extracts from children's essays on the men, women and other children who fulfil fatherly roles in their lives. Their text demonstrates the importance to children of men's love and care.
Men, fatherhood and children
Desertion by fathers is often prompted by their inability to bear the burden of being primary providers. The burden of failure becomes intolerable for those who lack the capacity to generate enough income as uneducated and unskilled labourers.
Men clearly have an important part in creating hardships for children. But they also have the potential, through involved and affectionate care, to alleviate children's problems. Many children speak of the importance of "being with" a father figure, not only of what he can provide materially.
It is also true that children are good for men. Men, especially young fathers, benefit enormously by becoming involved in the care of children. It has been shown that stable and intimate partnerships with children can help men overcome feelings of social alienation and serve to promote pro-social attitudes and behaviour.
It is therefore remarkable that so few programmes aiming to improve children's health and well-being, the functionality of families or community life, target or even include men, let alone fathers. As advocates and activists on behalf of children we're locked into our own stereotypes, seeing men as problematical, irresponsible, neglectful, abusive and irremediable.
Publications and materials
Partners and stakeholders
General aims of the Fatherhood Project
All the available information can be downloaded from our website at www.hsrc.ac.za/fatherhood
Events during the Cape Town exhibition
For further information
Creating a men's group at Guga S'Thebe Arts and Culture Centre
When: 22 July 6-8pm
What's happening: A forum to discuss the needs of men and youth in the community in promoting men's care and protection of children.
This workshop is about creating a safe space for men to speak on issues that they face regarding fatherhood - a place to examine our lives as men and the challenges that men face, to learn to share our experiences, to support and learn from one another by sharing our life experience and stories.
For more information contact Bryan Hansen on 083 248 2476
Further, the Parent Centre will host two workshops:
For more information, contact Celeste van der Merwe at the Parent Centre: 021 762 0116.
LitNet: 16 July 2004