There is no typical father in South Africa. There are many types of fathers and many types of fatherhood in the country. There are biological fathers, social fathers, gay fathers, straight fathers, young fathers, older fathers. We have self-identified fatherhood, ascribed fatherhood, long-distance fatherhood and proximal fatherhood, to name only a few. The texture is rich by age, race, class, geo-type, ethnicity or family type. Mothers, fathers and children experience a wide canvas of fatherhood portrayals. Such a richly textured canvas requires sensitivity that moves beyond simplistic interpretations.
This report introduces the history of fatherhood research in South Africa, and of key moments about fatherhood in the country to date; it provides a description of the state of fathers in South Africa in the overview, and then examines fatherhood in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The report explicitly uses an appreciative approach to document the importance of fatherhood for children, families and society by focusing on positive examples, and gives an opportunity for new voices to join the community of researchers, activists and others working on fatherhood.