LEADING A MULTICULTURAL FAMILY BY CARL NKOSI


Women of Reverence welcomes Carl Nkosi as a guest blogger for Fathers Day month.


My name is Carl Nkosi and I'm 34 years old. I was born on the East Rand. I matriculated from Springs Boys School and graduated from Wits University with a BA (Dramatic Arts) in 2008.


I’m currently Employed at the Wits University Medical School as an Education Media Production Technician (which is a long way of saying I make educational videos).


I am an Elder at Front Line People Church in Brakpan. My favourite title is husband to Rochél (for the past 7 years) and father to two beautiful kids, Kairo (4) and Kadimah (1).



When a marriage takes place, it is traditionally the husband who marries the wife and the wife agrees. So, there is seemingly an active and passive role – the wife joins the family of the husband and adopts his name and his ethnic identity and, therefore, the man’s family increases. This concept is so untrue it’s uncanny. Yes, the role of leadership might be performed by the man, but the role of influence in a family belongs to husband, wife and children.


Even though I am not a traditional African man, I try to follow some of the ideals that make sense to me. For example, I identify myself as a black, Swati man, simply because my father is Swati and, therefore, so am I. I am from my father. On the other hand, my wife (whose maiden surname is Grobbelaar) is English, even though her grandfather was Afrikaans – her dad was raised as English and, therefore, despite the surname, she is English. This confused me. How can you choose what culture/ethnicity in which to bring up your children? Isn’t it written in your veins? Can you override genetic identity by merely choosing?


When two people come together to form a family, there will always be differences. I think race just highlights these differences. Language can be a big one, as language reflects culture but also connects us to other family members. We don’t speak isiZulu at home because Ro can’t speak as much as she would like, but our desire is that our kids will be able to speak it well.

Another difference is that my wife is very affectionate. Her family members, including aunts, uncles and cousins, give each other kisses on the lips, whereas my family only gives hugs on special occasions.

She is very big on birthdays with many rituals, like singing in the morning and being pampered and spoilt. I, on the other hand, am not bothered if people don’t wish me a happy birthday. These differences even go as far as the food we eat. I had never had marrows before we got married – I knew they existed but they weren’t part of my world. My wife had never had chicken gizzards (which I love) but, thankfully, she enjoys them now. All these differences may seem negative, but they are actually positive. Our role is to preserve our family, not our past; there is always temptation to replicate that past in name of preservation.


So how do we have the ideal family, that’s united, with a sense of identity and heritage? We don’t replicate the past – we create the future. We acknowledge the multitude of forces shaping our families and choose the ones we are willing to allow and fight for. From ‘falling in love’ to raising kids, you are constantly making decisions to unite. The context of these decisions is important. In a relationship, the context is the relationship itself, its love and a commitment to a future together.


How would we make these decisions outside of this context? Well, we did when we started dating – the context, for us, was church. The church, unlike any other organisation I had been a part of (including school and even the work environment) was about commitment to God and commitment to people, even when you didn’t know them or they didn’t know you. I don’t think I could ever have dated a white girl in other contexts (not that it’s impossible, but it was for me). However, when you get saved or have an encounter with the Holy Spirit, not only do you see yourself for what you are (and God still loves you) but you see others as well (and somehow you love them) with their differences, hurts and pasts. In Acts 2, people encounter the Holy Spirit and they begin to share everything: food, homes and even wealth.


So, loving someone else with their differences, and embracing those differences is where meaningful, genuine relationships begin. We can choose who we become. I am now trying to create (and embrace) a new strand of the Swati clan that’s light-brown, eats gizzards and marrows, speaks Zulu, English, Afrikaans, French and whatever language we wish and is affectionate and loves to be loved. And the truth is that our family is better for it.


Be Blessed

Carl



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