Joburg based, Polokwane-bred photographer Kgomotso Neto Tleane shares intimate and candid portraits of his partner and baby during lockdown. As a new father, Tleane reflects on what it means in a society like South Africa, with the reality of gender based violence. He emphasizes the importance of creating a safer world for women and children through male accountability and collective healing.
What example would you like to set for your daughter as a father?
Having been raised by a single mother and the women in my family, I have always made a promise to myself to be present for my kids, no matter the circumstance. I have been a father for almost a year now. That question comes to mind a lot, what kind of a father do I want to be?
Most of the time I follow my heart and instinct, that’s how I go through most things in life, by being free and vulnerable enough to learn. I have gone through this past year with the same spirit when it comes to being a father, I have opened myself up to being present and to learning. Im looking forward to raising her with my parter, there’s still so much more to learn.
How do you feel raising her in a society like South Africa? Do you have any hope that her generation might experience a different reality to the women of this generation?
It’s sad, knowing that as men we are the problem. which is something I want to change, and I think that starts with me being honest about what the real issues are and what role do I play in aiding the problem to stay alive.
As a man, I want to be part of the solution, this means being open about my feelings, and finding a healthy way to deal with them. This is the first step in creating a better and safer world for women.
What kind of example do you hope to set for other men of your generation in terms of being a father and in terms of how to treat a woman and all women ?
In retrospect, growing up without my father's presence made me realise how important it is for men to be there, not just financially, but emotionally and physically present. I think that’s what we get wrong as men, we aren’t there enough, we aren’t present enough for our kids, partners and women in general.
What has been the most fulfilling part of being able to spend time with your daughter during lockdown?
My daughter is at the stage where’s she’s learning a lot of developmental stuff. It’s been fulfilling seeing her learn how to communicate in her own way. It’s just really special seeing her growing, literally every week.
What has being a father taught you about yourself?
Having a baby has made realise that I’m a very patient person. Having a baby literally takes over your life and things happen at their own time
What's the most important lesson you would like to teach your daughter?
To always go for her hearts desires. It’s important to always follow your heart and trust your instinct.
What do you hope this generation of fathers will do differently to previous generations
I hope they will be present for their families, I hope they will listen and learn. I think a lot of us know where some of our dads went wrong, and we can do things differently.
Photography: Kgomotso Neto Tleane