Vanababa va nhasi

Vana baba vanhasi

Vanababa va nhasi- Exhibition Opened on the 23 of November and closed on 30 November 2016

 The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden in Harare presents Vana Baba Vanhasi/Obaba Balamhla/Fathers of Today an exhibition that is the culmination of the recently held photographic contest. The contest explored the roles of fathers in Zimbabwe and how their relationships with their partner and child(ren) have changed in the face of a changing and progressively more gender equal world.

The photographs in the contest have explored in lively detail progressive fatherhood and shown that there is gender justice in Zimbabwe. The photographs show not just fathers having fun with their children but taking care of them as well. Most fathers are acutely aware that their wives are taking the lion share of the responsibility from the beginning of parenthood, and feel left out of the lives of their children and want to be involved more. Some see the mother acting as ‘gatekeeper’ by asserting too much control over childcare and household decisions, therefore undermining the father’s participation.

In addition to a lack of public standards to reference, there are many factors that get in the way of progressive dads being as involved as everyone would like. These include; feeling incompetent with the baby or the household chores, gaining a sense of competence and usefulness through being a provider, inner conflict between wanting to be involved and cultural ideas about masculinity and men’s roles, a mother-focused parenting culture in which all the conversation and attention is placed on the mother and child, and not fully understanding the specific importance of fathers in their child’s development.

Vana Baba Vanhasi/Obaba Balamhla/Fathers of Today documents and showcases the roles of progressive fathers in Zimbabwe today and how they relate to and interact with their children. Slowly but surely, even for couples who are fiercely opposed to traditional gender roles in their relationship, find themselves in gender specific roles during the first few years of parenthood that can remain in place into adolescence. For many couples, this traditional division of labor – childcare and housework for women, income generation and home repair for men – feels comfortable and each partner is satisfied.

However, in the progressive world in which we live, this division is rife with conflict for both partners. The photographs in this exhibition show how challenging it can be for a father to be engaged in a satisfying way in our present culture. It is clear from research that children tend to play with their fathers more than they would another child. When given a choice of who to play with, two-thirds of toddlers choose dads over moms. This can give parents a concrete reason to value and promote dad’s involvement and enable partners to navigate the challenges of gender roles and parenthood gracefully.

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