Like the writer, slain US rapper Tupac Shakur had an absent father growing up and was raised by a mother whom he honoured in the song Dear Mama.

In Tupac’s famous song, Dear Mama, the lyrics say: “No love from my daddy ’cause the coward wasn’t there. He passed away and I didn’t cry. They say I’m wrong and I’m heartless, but all along I was looking for a father he was gone.”

It is true, I did not have any father’s love when I was growing up because he left my mom, sister and I when I was about five years old.

Today marks over a month since we buried my father. The week leading to his funeral was confusing, emotionally draining and also full of revelations.

I didn’t know how to tell those close to me about his passing since he was never a part of my upbringing.

But he was still my father, present in my life or not.

I have always been vocal about fatherlessness and the power of single mothers who raise boys to be men. I know from my personal experience that it isn’t easy for a woman to raise a man. That is why I appreciate my mother and the many other women who raise boys to be great men.

So, after hearing the news of his passing, I went straight home to see my mom and sister.

In this era of technology, I was worried that someone may overtake me and break the sad news to them. Fortunately, I got home before anyone had passed on the message.

There was dead silence.

I asked myself a lot of questions. What do we do? Are we supposed to ask mother dearest for permission to bury our father or at least contribute towards his burial? As adults, do we just make our own decisions?

This is where I got to see revelations of character from these two wonderful women in my life. This is when I got to fully see my mother’s true character. She just said: “That man is your father, you do whatever feels right.”

That for me was a sign that my mom was neither bitter nor angry at him, at least not at that point.

At the end, it was up to us.

Our mother did not stand in our way, she gave us the freedom to decide on what to do.

She is such an amazing woman. "You always was a black queen, mama” is one of the lyrics in Tupac’s song that resonates when I think of my mother.

My sister and I have our own differences, like all siblings do. However, when we are in delicate and sombre situations, our hearts and minds are in sync, they sing in one tune.

We took it upon ourselves to visit our paternal family mid-week, 200km from our home.

That was where the funeral was taking place, at our late grandmother's house.

Before his death, I echoed Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi’s words; “I could not claim him as my father from a point of view of what fathering is about, he is not. I met him as a young man already, and that was the consequence of his actions. I now had a choice whether to include him in my life or not, and whatever decision I took would be correct, and I could not be victimised for it.”

I still believe what Ndlozi said.

But the sentiments of my heart did not matter when death struck - they were overturned.

By virtue of my birth, he remained my father. Even in his coffin, he was still my father. Death and burial presented to us one chance to fully express how we felt about our father. We did right by our father. We did everything a son and a daughter could do to a man who gave birth to them.

Then I thought of the anger (most of the times, rightfully so) we harboured, the bitterness and feeling of hurt towards parents (mostly fathers) who desert their children.

It takes so much from us and when they are gone, you will be the one left with all the burden. We need to learn to forgive others for our own peace.

To my mother and the many women out there like her, your selflessness and golden hearts are true treasures. The whole paternal family praised my mother in her absence.

“Your mother is a wonderful woman. Please pass our deepest and most sincere regards to her. She has really raised you guys well. May God bless her,” they said.

It was no surprise that some did not expect us to play leading roles (for lack of a better phrase) in the burial of our father simply because he had been absent all our lives. I suppose we surprised ourselves too.

To my father: Rest in eternal peace. To you dear Mama: “I appreciate how your raised me, and all the extra love that you gave me.”

* Kabelo Chabalala is founder of the Young Men Movement. E-mail, [email protected]; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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