For the worldly amongst us who read the Global Gender Gap report and enjoy Modern Family this might not be a big deal. But I think being an African father in the modern world does not come automatically to most of us. We need to learn and we need models to show how it’s done. And until one sees half the men at the sports bar and the prayer meeting slipping out regularly to change nappies, we’ll need pictures like this one I received from Isaac Dery. There is more than just a good feeling to be got when one sees a man who has produced offspring or adopted a child do what’s got to be done: being a present father.
Dery says he stopped to talk to this unnamed young man carrying his daughter because. Dery would stop because he is interested in men’s involvement in maternal healthcare. His studies focus on men in Ghana. ‘According to [the man],’ Dery wrote to me, ‘it’s important for him to [do what he’s doing] since in his opinion husbands need to assist their wives’.
Thank you Isaac. It’s an emotionally satisfying image. It’s more than that in fact. And I would like to know the man’s name, and where that road in the background comes from and leads to.
But now, we, men, have to disabuse ourselves from feeling that we are ‘assisting’ when we are nurturing our kids. It’s your child, goddammit, and you aren’t assisting anyone by carrying them or taking them to the clinic. You are doing your work of raising your child.
Seeing African men do caring work is not only satisfying, but counters racist stereotypes and conservative traditionalist views about African gender identities and gender relations. Also, for me, this image signals towards the work I see as necessary under what I have called an African-situated psychology of men and masculinities.