Sean’s Story: Being childfree in Zimbabwe

Sean SibandaChildfree???, I didn’t know that word existed. You grow up being actively encouraged to follow the so called life script: go to university, get a Job, get engaged/pay bridal price, get married, get a mortgage, raise kids and just die. To be really honest, I think I was always on the fence about raising kids. I really can’t recall a time and place when I really wanted or even had absolute certainty that I wanted kids. I think as far as I’m concerned, the first tell-tale sign was the actual number of kids I wanted, which would always fluctuate from one to two to three and back again.

I recently discovered that I was tokophobic (didn’t even know there was a word for it!), which is the fear of getting a girl pregnant. Also, being diagnosed with vitiligo put me off dating for a long while. Additionally, witnessing some of my friends in high school becoming baby daddies, and all the responsibilities that came with it, put me off the whole idea even further.

In 2016, during my internship year at a certain hotel, in my hometown of Bulawayo, I really got riled up by the constant complaints from a few of my co-workers who were permanent employees. I mean don’t get me wrong, the complaints were legitimate, because the working conditions were really bad. However, my main issue with them was the fact that they couldn’t leave the organization to find a better and more suitable job elsewhere, simply because they didn’t have any savings to fall back on, whilst they would be job-hunting. They lived paycheck to paycheck. All their incomes ended up going on looking after their kids. The last straw for me was when they would ask me, the single childless guy in the office, to go out and find jobs for them. It was then that I realized that parenthood can be a prison sentence. I mean to just live to feed your kids is not something I look forward to doing.

Another event that contributed to my choice to be childfree, was when a certain relative of mine, a man I looked up to, passed away. He was the darling of the family. A man who had made it in life both financially and on a personal level. His kids had everything you could dream of as a child. Private schooling, designer clothes, a beautiful house, the whole lot. In his last days, he was unemployed, involuntarily retired and feeling utterly useless and dejected. His children, whom he had sacrificed all his wealth for, were simply not there for him in his darkest hours, when he needed them the most. It was another reminder that life is unpredictable and that there is no guarantee that your kids will be there for you.

What I have learnt about kids is that you need to able to sacrifice everything for them, often at the expense of your own happiness, and it’s not something I am willing to do. I think a lot of people just follow the African tradition without really giving much thought to the challenges that come with having children. To me, being a father is just too much of an important job to screw up. Kids need time, money, patience, dedication and constant sacrifice, and I know I can’t provide all that willingly.

I haven’t yet reached that age when it’s now expected of me to have kids, therefore the questions haven’t really started coming my way yet. A cousin of mine, who is in his late 40s, does not have kids and isn’t planning on having any. Luckily, nobody seems to be bothering him about his choice and I hope the same thing happens to me too. But if I end up being put under pressure to have children, then I guess I will just have to stand my ground.

As for finding a partner in Zimbabwe, to be honest, I sometimes feel like I am the only person in the whole country who actually knows that having kids is a choice. A lot of girls here have been raised to believe that they have no choice in the matter, and that they will never be fulfilled unless they become mothers. Having chosen to be childfree, I do realise that I could end up single for the rest of my life, but that’s a chance I am willing to take.

Sean Mzwandile Sibanda is an aspiring academic and restaurateur. He is currently undertaking his first degree in tourism and hospitality management, majoring in food and beverage at The Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe. He hopes to bring awareness to the childfree choice and help remove the stigma associated with it, especially in Africa. You can follow him on social media:
Twitter – @SeanMzwaSibanda
Instagram – @shoshozwsupastar
Facebook –
Website –

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  1. Hi Sean, thanks for sharing your story and for giving us a glimpse into what life’s like for a childfree man in Zimbabwe. I am glad that you too feel the need to help end the stigma against people without children on the continent. We do have quite a mountain to climb! But of course, traditions, no matter how old and how entrenched, do become outdated at some stage. With most of Africa’s youth being exposed to social media on a regular basis now, I anticipate that there will be a major shift in attitudes on this issue, at least, among the younger generations.

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