Book Review


Synopsis by: Moffat Sebola


THE FATHERWOUND encapsulates the cry for fathering. It is written by a son, from a son’s perspective on the need for fathering. You can, if you will, take it as a boy child’s journal. It is written by a son who waits for a dad who never comes. It is a letter full of blurred sentences, blurred by the dripping tears from a son who hopes that his letter will reach the right address. But of course, his letter will not reach the right address. He is told his dad is dead. He is told his dad is dead and yet he has never seen his dead dad’s tombstone, not even a clear photograph of him. He is not sure if he wants to see the tombstone or the grave. He might go to the cemetery uncertain on whether he is going there for a conversation or a confrontation. He wants neither. He is angry, bitter and confused. He straddles between two worlds: I hate my father and I wish my dad was here. He loves to hate his dead dad and he hates that he loves his dead dad. The cry runs deep. With uncertainty: Will I ever be a man? Do I have what it takes to be a man? Will I love my wife and kids? What does it mean to be a man? There is a hunger for fatherly affection, affirmation and attention. It never comes. And, when none comes, the wound, the fatherwound, continues to fester in his heart. This journal, the book, captures nothing but the lonesome cry of a boy- becoming-a-man. There is a silent, shameful scream in his heart and it is: I am not aboy and I might never be a man!


Perhaps if a father figure was present to help him through his masculine journey, the story would be different. And the thing about THE FATHERWOUND is that it’s not only in Moffat Sebola’s heart. It is there in most of our boys and men. For some, it’s hidden behind a tuxedo in some posh office somewhere. It’s there in the boy or the man behind prison bars. It’s there in the boy the man who sucks the beer bottle hoping to find pleasure and healing. It’s aching in the boy, the man who is sniffing cocaine or living on a diet of nyaope. It’s there in a man who has more degrees than a thermometer. It’s there in the boy who is celebrated for his sexual recklessness. It’s there behind the pulpit. It’s there in the boys in the church. We see boys glorifying the man of God, as if he is the God of man, idolising him, hiding their cry for fathering behind titles like: “spiritual father”. And the spiritual father too is a fatherless boy, man. He too is hungry for fatherly affection, affirmation and attention. The so-called sons and daughters feed the hunger by worshipping him. The Church either does not recognise the cry for healthy fathering or she just doesn’t know how to convey the FatherHeart of God. There is a dire need for fatherly presence and guidance in our generation. The cry for fathering is in every fatherless boy’s heart and every fatherless man’s heart.

Really, this story is for all the un-fathered fathers, un-fathered sons and fathers-to-be. For some sons, the father is present but emotionally distant and indifferent towards them. Some sons have fathers who devote their whole attention to the newspaper, the television or who love the beer bottle more than mom, more than them. Some fathers love their careers more than their families. Some pastors sacrifice their marriages and children on the altar of temporal ministry success. They win the world but they lose the people who mean the world to them. Some fathers either struggle to verbalise their love for their sons or never even try. Some sons never cry because culture dictates that a real man never cries. We raise angry men. We only get to hear their cry through the gun or the fist punching their wives. We hear the cry through the prison bars, flavoured with regrets and shame. Some never really get to tell their story, we hear it from their relatives at their funeral. Our men don’t cry the right way.

We have a lot of boys trapped in over-grown bodies, men’s bodies, who are crying for help. This book is not, in any way, intended to demonise or antagonise our men, boys and fathers. This is a clarion call to the men in our generation, to hold the noble gift of fathering in high esteem. This is to encourage our fathers to love and be there for their sons, and families. The book draws its examples from the Word of God, the Bible. It looks at Christ as the Healer. He Himself was wounded and so, He understands the wound, any wound. He is the WOUNDED HEALER. It’s revealed in the book how home contributes to the development of our sons. They can be groomed and mentored to be men of honour or men of horror, at home. The first murder in the Bible happened in the family. They will learn how to treat women at home and anywhere else by watching how their dads treat their mothers at home. The lessons at home will be to their benefit or detriment. The book considers biblical heroes like Noah who built an ark for his family, perhaps with his family. It’s important, to us sons, that our fathers build their legacies (the ark) with us, and not just for us. It’s important that our fathers allow us to watch them build an altar for God like Abraham had Isaac watch him build an altar for God. We also want our fathers to watch us when we build an altar for God just as Eli watched Samuel minister to the LORD. It hurts a boy like David to know that his father forgot or overlooked him when Samuel came to anoint a king. The father is the right person to call out a king from his own kid. In David’s heart, the conviction could be: Daddy doesn’t think I have what it takes. It hurts a boy like David to kill a lion and a bear in the absence of his dad. It hurts a boy like David to kill a giant before a crowd and the crowd cheers for him and yet when he scans the crowd, there is a face he cannot see, a face he wants to see; daddy is not there to see it. It hurts a boy like David to graduate over and over again, the crowd cheering but when he looks at the crowd he finds that his dad is not there. A boy like David who is about to get married longs for his dad to affirm him and give him counsel on how to be a husband, a dad and productive member of society. Deep down, a boy like David, wants to know if his dad likes the girl he likes. Is he proud of him? Is Jesse proud that David killed a giant? But the thing about David is that he might kill a giant when the crowd is watching but he may fail to keep his zip shut when he sees Bathsheba bathing. A boy like David needs his dad present when he kills a giant and when he falls for Bathsheba. A boy like Joseph needs his dad to knit a colourful jacket for him. A boy needs to wear his dad’s love. It is through healthy mentorship that a boy like Joseph will make the right decision when he has to choose between obeying God or falling for the appeals of a naked woman. A boy like Samson needs his dad to help him value the anointing of God in his life. Without fatherly guidance and mentorship, he might die depleted on the thighs of the woman he thought he loved. He might marry wrong. Samson’s enemies may know his strength in the battlefield but the women he sleeps with know his weakness in the bedroom. He needs help. He might sacrifice what matters most for what matters least. We, as sons, need intentional, strong and genuine mentorship on these pillars: faith, family, fathering, finances, friendship, fun and fulfilment. These are the pillars of the book. It is the hope of the author that our fathers will be challenged, encouraged and empowered to father their children. Perhaps, our children will not grow up as orphans whilst their fathers are alive. The un-fathered fathers can also become the dad they never had.

About the author

Themba Mashaba


Click here to post a comment

  • There is another perspective that is very important where in the fatherwound is in a girl child .A father is the first man a girl is to fall in love with and if there is no love it creates a void in which the girl doesn’t know how to be loved or what love really is and when it is genuine .one of the reasons why we have broken marriages is because we enter in with fatherwounds .we end up trying to fight the battle of our fathers and mothers in our marriages.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Kamogelo. The Fatherwound is as deep in the daughter’s heart. I am actually co-authoring (with a lady) a book dealing with the wound from that perspective.

  • This is a topic that cuts deep, not only in the hearts of fatherless sons but also in the hearts of fatherless daughters who also need the affirmation of their missing fathers.

    • Indeed, it cuts deep. There is a dire need for a conversation on this topic. That is why there is actually a book coming up primarily from a daughter’s perspective.