Young Women’s Experiences Following Discovering a Biological Father in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Motlalepule Nathane-Taulela*, Mzikazi Nduna
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa.

© 2014 Nathane-Taulela and Nduna;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa;Tel: +27117174471; Fax: +27117174473; E-mail:


In South Africa, it has been established that a high number and growing proportion of children are growing up without fathers in their lives. Research suggests that some children who grow up without their biological fathers seek to know them during adolescence. Some discover them whilst others never do. This paper aimed to investigate experiences of young women who discover their fathers during adolescence.

We undertook a qualitative study in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa to understand experiences of children who grow up with absent fathers. We conducted face-to-face, gender-matched interviews with young women aged 15 to 26. Five case studies are presented here. We used Topical structural analysis to examine the narratives.

Findings reveal that mother or someone else from the maternal family was instrumental in the disclosure of the father’s identity. Four topics that cover the resultant experiences in relation to the father were; a weak or no relationship formed, a positive relationship was formed, the child was disinterested or the mother barred regular visits to the father.

This study concludes that the maternal family context, reasons for father absence, how the disclosure happened influence experiences that follow discovering one’s father. Forming a positive relationship with the father depended on the child and father’s common interest.

Keywords: Absent father, intlawulo, South Africa, undisclosed father, unknown father, young people.