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Becoming a dad when you didn’t have a father

by Pamela Madonsela
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When a boy loses his father, it raises a lot of questions but the most difficult is when they transition from a boy to a man. That father figure they looked up to and were hoping would guide them through this process is no longer there.

My husband, Ndumiso Madonsela, lost his father in 2011 and eight years later he became a father to our daughter. How do you face fatherhood without your father to hold your hand? Being the only son, he describes the relationship he shared with his father as a solid one and shares his experience now as a fatherless father.

Father and son relationship

My father was my best friend. We shared an open father-and-son relationship. He was a pastor and was very strict in how he raised my sister and me. He used to give me the best advice; he was a family man and someone you could trust. I always looked up to him because of the way he carried himself around people and the love he had for his family. Until this day, I respect that man.

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In honour of my father, I named my daughter Omntimande

Finding out that we were expecting a baby was the best news I have ever received, but a part of me was also scared as this was my first child. I didn’t know if I was ready for such a responsibility; however, I couldn’t wait to transfer the love my father gave to me onto my daughter and I named her with our clan name as a tribute to him.

Lessons from my father

The greatest lesson my father taught me is that success comes from perseverance and now that I have my own family, I understand why he sacrificed so much for us. Some of my biggest fears is not being able to provide for my family and that I may not be a good example to our child.

Experiencing fatherhood

What I love the most about being a father is that my daughter keeps me on my toes – literally. I have no choice but to work hard so she can have a better life. I want to be able to give her all the things I didn’t have growing up. Being a father and husband shifts your focus and it’s no longer just about you, but your family.

Daddy’s little girl

The relationship I share with my daughter is special. We are very close and even though we fight a lot, our playtimes are the best – even mommy gets jealous sometimes! I enjoy our drives where we sing and talk, even though I struggle to understand her language most of the time. She has a mind of her own and is such a Daddy’s girl. She is a blessing.

He left a gap in our family

Not having my father around is still a challenge, years later. I still feel the gap and there are questions I still want to ask him but he is no longer with us. I feel that there is still so much I could learn from him if he was still around but, above all else, I wish he had met his granddaughter Omntimande and that she could experience the love he gave to us.

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Lessons to my daughter

I was raised to fear God and obey Him in all that I do, and I will definitely transfer that lesson onto our little girl as she grows up. She also needs to take responsibility and charge in everything she does. I am still learning in this department, but I trust that God will enable us to raise this princess.

The relationship my husband had with his father was amazing and to this day he shares memories of him with us as we never got a chance to meet him while he was still alive. I am proud of the man he raised my husband to be and all lessons that he taught him which play a big role to the great father that he is today. My husband hasn’t allowed circumstances to stop him from being the amazing father that he is and Omntimande is blessed to have such a man in her corner.

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