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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Theology
Title The Effect of Absent Fathers in spreading HIV/AIDS and the Role of the Church in Swaziland
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
URL http://www.shbcare.org/docs/The impact of absent fathers on sons_FIN.pdf
The Nation of Swaziland is steadily losing its understanding of fatherhood as hundreds of
thousands of children are born into this world not knowing what it is to have a real father.
Sons, having no valid role model, look to the world around them for guidance. Enticed by
the lure of wealth, power and prestige, they forsake their understanding of ubuntu and set
out on a hedonistic, materialistic journey. Over time, they lose much of their cultural
heritage. Yet one aspect remains – the Patriarchal aspect, which dominates their
relationship with women. The blend of hedonism, materialism and male chauvinism mixed
with female subjugation and poverty are a fertile breeding ground for HIV/AIDS. This
thesis demonstrates that the loss of this loss of understanding by men is a major driving
force behind the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland.
The study explores the gradual shift that has taken Swazis from a strong cultural
background to one that is steadily dying. In so doing, this investigation traces how Swazi
men were forced through poverty - induced by big business (aided and abetted by the
British, the Afrikaners and later the A.N.C.), as well as by their own personal greed - to
leave the moderating restraint of their fathers. Generations of young men chose to leave
Swaziland to go and work on the gold mines in South Africa. Far from their homes, living
in single hostels, the men chose to drink in bars and sleep with prostitutes or girlfriends, and finally formed second families. Out of reach of the restraining influence of their
fathers, the strictly moral Swazi culture was perverted through their interaction with
foreign cultures – especially that of the West. The male domination mindset was merged
with western “free love” understanding, producing a male chauvinist of extreme
proportions. The discarding of a centuries-old cultural/moral structure of Ubuntu, together
with the African Traditional Religious belief that there is no eternal judgment makes for a
potent cocktail, which has resulted in a generation of self-destructing spiritual orphans.
In the meantime, HIV/AIDS had been imported to South Africa from Central and Eastern
via truckers, migrant labourers and guerrillas, where it found a fruitful home along
the trucking routes and on the mines. The Swazis, along with the Tswanas, the Sothos and
the South Africans would take the disease home. The combination of extreme male
chauvinism, “widespread grazing” (a descriptive Ugandan term associated with sleeping
around) [Epstein 2007:162] and no spiritual or cultural constraints have ensured that
HIV/AIDS would spread like wildfire – the so called “HIV super highway”. [Epstein
The Church, the governments and the people themselves would spend decades denying the
existence of the disease, and now it is almost too late. In an environment where
“widespread grazing” is common, even amongst some Pastors, it is little wonder that the
nation is dying.
The pandemic is steadily bringing Swaziland to its knees. Life expectancy has been
reduced to only 31.3 years in 2004 [Whiteside and Whalley2007: 6] and the quality of life
for the vast majority of Swazis leaves much to be desired.
The thesis closes with a call to the Church to lead the way by repenting, praying,
preaching, living the life we are called to live, and addressing the need for those who are
fatherless to be fathered within the Church.

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