Many people equate old age with relaxing at the beach and vacationing- they dream of the day that they will retire. Under favorable circumstances, this vision is not far from the reality. For many grandparents in South Africa, however, particularly grandmothers, this is not the case. Due to death (from various causes, such as HIV), drugs, and deliberate child abandonment, grandmothers in various locales in South Africa are forced to raise their grandchildren alone. In one research article entitled Challenges Experienced by Grandparents in Raising their Grandchildren in Utrecht in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Ntombifuthi Richness Lunga found that “grandparents experience social isolation, financial, physical, and emotional hardship.” In addition, “some grandparents may experience chronic stress which could create greater chances of contracting diseases such as flu, depression, and even dementia.” Thus, raising a child without support at an elderly age can cause an individual to experience intensive suffering. In another research study, JM Mokone reported that the vast majority of elderly respondents raising grandchildren “complained about the financial strain they were experiencing as they were trying to provide for themselves and their grandchildren.” Fortunately, many organizations have formed in order to assist grandparents in these situations. In Cape Town, Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA) is one such association. Their home page states, “today all over South Africa there are grandmothers holding together families affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. Often these women are the sole bread winners in a household. They may also be nursing the dying and bringing up orphaned grandchildren on their own. Research shows that these grandmothers suffer from a lack of information, stigmatization and overriding poverty.” Indeed, communities, with the help of organizations such as GAPA, are beginning to take action to ensure that the livelihood of grandparents is protected. Street Talk TV spoke with a few grandmothers residing in the Cape Town area to listen to their accounts of what elderly motherhood was like.

The grandmothers who we spoke with stressed that the younger generation had too much free time on their hands, and filled their weekends with the wrong kinds of activities, such as partying. They alluded to the fact that this culture leads to increased rates of teenage pregnancy, thus resulting in an abundance of babies who are not adequately cared for. Oftentimes, Grandmothers are forced to take care of these children because their parents don’t have the resources necessary to provide for a child. “They (teenagers) don’t learn on weekends” Nompumelelo Mwanda explained. Nonceba Makhubalo vigorously agreed, shaking her head and stating, “if you could (only) see the way the girls are drinking.” Indeed, drinking culture has permeated township life to a significant extent, contributing to problems such as teenage pregnancy, rape, and even murder. “If you are drunk, you can’t manage to use a condom” Nompumelelo explained. According to her, liquor is a huge problem in the community. Furthermore, Nompumelelo told us that police were not fulfilling their duty to the community- they are failing to prevent underage drinking and crack down on big parties. “Our black police are very greedy of money,” she said, naming bribery as the primary reason that drinking culture had become far too excessive, and remained unenforced, in the community. Nompumelelo, Nonceba, and the other grandmothers we spoke with were able to identify many of the reasons why they found themselves in a situation in which they had to bring up their children’s children. However, without the help of law enforcement officials, and other sectors, these grandmothers fear that the new cycle of parenting that has emerged will not be broken.

-Roz KennyBirch



ABSTRACT This study is about the challenges experienced by grandparents in raising their grandchildren in Utrecht in KwaZuluNatal The study was conducted describing …

Challenges Experienced by Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: An Exploratory Study, written by JM Mokone: