Guest Blog by Sean Mzwandile Sibanda
2020 for all its intended purposes and events has been nothing short of dramatic and memorable for me. I had known for a long time that I didn’t want kids but as a man based in sub-Saharan Africa, you are expected to embrace fatherhood and be a ‘provider’ even though I never really saw the appeal. There have been times when I have been distraught by suggestions that the world is not overpopulated, that there is plenty of land so it was imperative that I join the baby making brigade like our lives depended on it, especially in African culture where a man’s respect and adoration is measured against his virility. I guess with all this in mind, I decided getting a vasectomy was the right choice for me and I don’t think, I will ever regret it.
We live in a time and place where birth control is one of the most debated topics across our society. Abortion is still not legal in many countries and the rights of what women can and cannot do is still policed by society. I can relate, because honestly, birth control for me is not the responsibility of one partner but both consenting parties. I am tokophobic by the way. The thought of getting a woman pregnant and knowing she had the right to either have this child (And the unnecessary burden that comes with raising a child) or to abort (which would have been my ideal choice) always gave me sleepless nights, stress and occasional depression just thinking about.
I think having a child is a big responsibility and one that a lot of men take lightly. Yes sure, we don’t carry the womb to full term like women, but we also have to play a crucial role for the child, which is to provide and protect it. Personally I never liked the idea of being someone’s father. I always felt that a man loses a part of him that he will never recover. Sure he will be respected by society for ‘taking up the mantle’ but to be a provider just seems to be asking a tee bit much for me. It took me a long time to convince myself that getting sterilized was the only way to make sure I live life at my own terms and never feel trapped.
When the Corona Pandemic started, I sort of had an epiphany, I realized that life was too short to want things to be perfect or constantly worry about the best time to get sterilized and figured I really had nothing to lose. Sure like every procedure, the vasectomy comes with low risks of failure and 5%-15% chance of Post-vasectomy Pain Syndrome but when compared with the cost of raising a child or the likelihood of raising a serial killer, I decided to take my chances. I was tired of feeling helpless, tired of waiting and mostly tired of not being able to enjoy one of life’s pleasures simply because I couldn’t get that nagging fear in my brain about making a woman pregnant.
In South Africa, to be precise, when a young man who is 25 asks for a vasectomy, I liken it to asking to detonate a nuclear bomb in an amusement park. Most urologists are in their late 50s and turn you away for being too young, not married or simply because your reason for not wanting kids are ‘stupid’. I remember when I told my general practioneer I wanted a vasectomy and lied to her in desperation, that I had 5 kids, I couldn’t afford, she simply shrug me off and told me that I didn’t know what I was doing. Boy I wish she could see me now!
After I got the procedure at Marie Stopes South Africa in the Johannesburg Branch on the 9th of April 2020, (which I personally commemorate as ‘My freedom day), my life has never been the same. The people at Marie Stopes were so professional, courteous and never gave me reasons to doubt them in any way. I remember the doctor who performed my vasectomy, asking me why I wanted a vasectomy and when I simply told him I didn’t want any kids and when he asked ‘why not’, And gave him my overpopulation theory (which I had rehearsed thoroughly) he simply laughed it off and said ‘but corona will take care of overpopulation for us’, needless to say, I was shaking my head at this point thinking, its exactly this kind of mentality that made not want to breed.
I also have a hereditary disease called vitiligo and have never wanted to take chances. I too like many environmentalist who feel dwarfed by the rest of society when it comes to issues that affect the plant, care about the environment and correct me if I am wrong, feel this is the best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. I have been told I would make a great father but instead I would rather be the fun uncle. Should I change my mind, which I highly doubt, there is still a small chance of reversing it but I like many who have had this procedure don’t intend on doing so which is why it is imperative that one must know whether one to be permanently sterile beforehand.
Birth Control has never felt good as a man. My sex life is still the same. The human body still produces sperm and it is constantly reabsorbed by the body as it does not leave the testes during ejaculation. The orgasm is the same and the ejaculation is the same in every way. And that ladies and gentlemen is why I got a vasectomy. Yes it is not the solution to all of our world problems (Currently leading is washing our hands and covering our faces when coughing, lol). However, I do feel it is an option for those men who like me don’t want kids of their own and I felt the need to to share my experience and provoke thoughts to the African men who have shied away or have misleading misconceptions about the vasectomy procedure.
Sean Mzwandile Sibanda is a Part-time Post-grad Student at the University Of Pretoria, and a Hospitality Professional in Rosebank, Johannesburg. He hopes to bring awareness to the child-free lifestyle and help remove the stigma associated with the choice, especially in Africa. Sean is a guest columnist on a number of child-free website blogs and can’t imagine living life any other way.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SeanMZWASibanda
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FellaFMoney
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sean_mzwandile/