190 Magic Hlatshwayo was a guest speaker at an event in Orlando West where they were appreciating the role played by fathers. This was for Fathers Day. 190616 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - A popular South African actor has called on fathers to challenge the stigma around the trending phenomenon of absent fathers.

Magic Hlatshwayo, famous for his role as Thandaza’s uncle on the SABC soapie Muvhango, said he lived most of his life with the burden of knowing that he had a daughter out of wedlock who had to grow up without him.

“I looked at my children a few years ago, and they kept calling me dad. But it made my heart sore thinking about that daughter that wishes she could call someone dad but cannot,” he said during a Father’s Day event at Uncle Tom's Hall in Orlando West, Soweto.

Hlatshwayo said it was high time fathers realised the opportunities they missed for not being a part of someone’s growth and life because they chose to reject their parental responsibilities.

This Father’s Day marked the first annual Father’s Appreciation Day, and active African fathers were celebrated and given the platform to urge young fathers to play a role in their children’s lives. Appreciative Sowetans came together to acknowledge the few influential fathers who play a role in raising and supporting their children.

An English teacher at Emshukantambo Secondary in Pimville, Pule Hlahane, said that people needed to know that men also wanted to be loved, and that would in turn make a better society. “Learners from my school went on Vilakazi radio station to proudly invite me to attend this event as their father. They chose me as their father,”he said.

Hlahane said it was important not only for fathers to be present in their children’s lives but to care and show them love.

“If fathers cared enough and protected their children, there wouldn’t be room for blessers. Your role as a father isn’t only to your biological children.”

The organiser of this event, Esther Padi, said their aim was to make the Father’s Appreciation Day bigger each year to motivate young fathers to care for their children.

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The Star