In honour of Father’s Day, local photographer, Flo Mokale of Still Skill Photography decided to do something quite surprisingly touching. This photography series is of fathers in townships running the usual errands a modern father would- things like walking their children home from school, comforting them when they cry, pushing them in prams, and generally spending quality time with their children- and is part of his ‘People of Kasi’ photography collection that documents everyday life in townships.
What sounds quite simple turns out to excite some unexpected emotions. Mainly, it challenges the oft subliminal (and encouraged) media portrayal of black men being violent, and more specifically in this case, absent father figures. In this photo series there is a certain humanity that these men are afforded when seen (nay, captured) in these, sadly, unexpected circumstances, that they are not ordinarily portrayed in.
Ofcourse to say this would inspire certain people to ask why I have these assumptions in the first place, and why they need to be challenged by a photo. These are not assumptions I have myself but am all too aware are ingrained into us, whether by the various movie roles wherein a black male is almost always portrayed as a violent or angry character, if not the villain himself or by headlines that simply read the alleged charge of a black suspect, but are quick to humanize a white male with background details (as in the murderer of Jo Cox and Stanford University rapist, Brock Turner). However this is not an article on white male privilege. As a result, black men are often prematurely judged and seen guilty of crimes and personality traits they have not even performed or displayed.
Funnily enough I’ve been playing with the idea of doing this series myself as I have noticed (perhaps simply because I’ve chosen to pay attention) a number of black fathers on the streets of the Cape Town CBD and in the suburbs of Johannesburg carrying their daughters schoolbags, walking hand in hand or with their children laughing on their shoulders playing with their dreadlocks. It struck me that these were not scenes I’d expect these men to be in, and that made me ask why that is. The main theme is that these men are usually sans mother- For argument’s sake, many of these men may be single fathers, and I’d assume there are many more of them (single or not)- fathers taking a more proactive role in the growth of their children- than we really care to give credit for.
So this is for those men, and especially to all the single fathers out there.