I am proud of the single mothers who raise their kids well, especially when they raise a boy to a man

But I was fortunate enough to have had a father in my life, the strictest, most stubborn, loudest, toughest and bravest man I’ve ever met. His name was Makhonza David Mgijima. He passed away in September 2009.

My dad believed in the old-fashioned method of the spanking punishment, not spanking as any other normal parent but my dad would beat the shit out of you when you did something bad. He used any method or material in his sight to punish you; whip (isibhephu) belt, stick (induku) a hard wood or randomly throw stuff at you and that could knock an 8,9,10-year-old boy out of consciousness.

He was left-handed and you would judge by his voice calling you even from a distance when you’ve done wrong.

I am not kidding when I say, you could hear my dad’s voice calling you in a playground “eFriendly City” five km away from my house and when you hear that voice, everything freezes. You just know you have done something wrong, you start feeling like you want to pee.

I would be beaten if I ignored him, so I knew to reply ‘Taaa’ when he called. I was beaten for coming home late, not doing house duties…let me not count other “unfair” stuff I used to be beaten for but let me just stop at “doing home duties.”

My house still has a big garden, no one is interested in taking care of it because we’ve worked so hard that our only wish was to escape from it. We stay away now that we can. Back then we couldn’t because that source of land brought food on the table for us. I’m talking about two yards of about, six hectors of land, that my dad made me fork and spade. I opened holes to put vegetables in and buried those and nurtured them throughout the season until time came for digging them up and then we would wash, prepare, and sell them.

All this needed time, back then I was a child and all that stole my childhood. There was an open yard just next to my house where other kids played cricket, soccer and all other games. I would hide and watch them, sometimes mourning and crying asking and wondering why my dad never let me go play. When I tried to escape he would throw a stone at me or say his favourite words, in his loud voice, “Ungabuyelapha” meaning, “should I leave the house, I must not come back.” And he meant it.

Should you leave, come night time, everyone goes to their homes happy, while all I could think about was the beating I will get, and that I would sleep with no food. I would choose to play until late, just to enjoy the bits of it but there was no escaping the dark day end that I had to go back home and face.

No disappointment from my father, he would give me that hiding and no food for the night.

He was also strictly religious, My dad joined what they now call, “icawa zomoya” meaning the holy ghost church.

Forget not playing with other kids as much as I wanted, back then the church had no building. So it had to be attended from house to house. When it was in my house I would feel so ashamed and hated that it was unlike the ‘normal’ churches. You didn’t have a choice with my dad. If you live under his roof, eating his food, then you are going to that church.

We prayed every night at my house (which I loved and still love) but my dad would seat us down and tell us about what he would do if one of us (my sister Wendy and I) chose the wrong way.

For my sister, if she got pregnant, she would leave the house and stick with whoever that baby daddy was which he described as “Uyobangumka’nja” I won’t even try translating in English. But for me if I chose the tsotsi lifestyle I would also pack and go…Sounds tragic right.? Tough and undeserved?

If I could tell you the truth before the God I serve and be totally honest; I could never thank my dad enough on how he raised me…

Trust me I’m not saying it to make it sound nice but If he was alive today, I would be delighted to be raised under his hand as he did back then and I would appreciate every second of his parenting.

Its hard to believe for you when I say: every spanking I got out of that man’s hands I deserved it. I could never be so grateful for the beating I got from my dad. And every beating, I deserved it. They made me the man I am today.

The church he forced me to go to as a child, it taught me to trust and believe in the God I serve and I’m so grateful that my dad chose such God amongst such gods. The God he forced us to serve made great wonders for me and still is. I trust the God my father introduced me to and when I pray to him, the God Almighty never disappointed me once.

The times my dad let me play with other kids taught me to focus in life. I’m a more determined man. I wanted a car, I went for it and I got it. Wanted to be educated, went for it and I got it. Wanted commitment, went for it and now I am. I had to lose everything and let everything else go and stop, for me to get the fruits and veggies later.

That man raised a man very well and I’m proud of the man I became because of him.

The times he beat me when I escaped, taught me not to take the short cut in life, that success takes the long road and I will have sleep with no food and struggle. Why not suffer now and rejoice later?

He beat me when I came home late, which taught me time management and being a unique child amongst others is what I brag and proud of now. Nobody could be me, nobody could even imitate me.

I’m telling you now. If I have kids I pray and ask God to not let me spoil them and that I am able to prepare them for life battles as my father did to me making a boy stronger to become a man.

I am so proud of my sister, she only had a child when she graduated and finished school, she is a teacher now, we both graduated.

To this day I do not smoke. Not that I’m scared, I have a choice but my father made a decision for me not to suffer and wish “if someone could have warned me” later.

I invited the church I hated to my house the day I graduated to do the same things I hated when I was a child. I wished they could clap, sing, praise louder. I wish they could do just that in any celebration I have in my life…

When God said, “Beka uyihlo nonyoko ukuze imihla yakho yolulwe emhlabeni, thobela abazali bakho,” he wasn’t lying. Because somehow parents set a direction to a person you will be and I’m prouder of those who have no parents and still are able to choose their own ways of making it in life.

But for me, I needed that direction, I needed that strong hand. I needed that loud voice, I needed that beating. Should I have been given the freedom to play until late. I would have never been the person I am today.


Tell us: what are you most thankful about your parents?