They called children like me illegitimate

May 5, 2020
Personal Experiences

Illegitimate means not recognised by law.

My mum met my dad in the early 80s, he pursued her, and she gave in to his persistent requests. They started dating and had fun spending time together. Only after falling pregnant did she learn that he was married and had children with another woman. She was very angry with him and decided to walk away from the relationship.

When she gave birth, my dad went to visit and fell in love with his son and wanted to be a part of his life. the fact that he had a wife was swept under the rug, whether they revisited it or not is something they both took to the grave. She believed that he would leave his wife for her. She shouldn’t have, because he didn’t. It was not the optimal situation, but she stayed with him anyway.  

Their relationship spanned for 16 years, not marrying legally or culturally (he was already married). Despite not having said their I do’s in church, they stayed together till death did them apart. Their love for each other birthed three children, children that bore his last name and were even listed under offspring for his medical aid plan. What started off as his secret love became known to his wife over time and she was possible infuriated at first but because he was not about to abandon his other children, us. Both women accepted their fates, choosing to stay with my dad, the father of their children.  

Photo by Dhivakaran S

We were legitimate children when we were in our home, with our mother, even if my father spent most of his time with his other family. We did not meet or spend time with my father’s side of the family because we were illegitimate children. It was my father’s death that showed us what it meant to be illegitimate. Attending funerals and receiving an inheritance is a privilege for legitimate children. The system is flawed that way.

  • I am not at ease with the idea of my existence being deemed illegitimate and I find it important to address.
  • No human being is illegitimate, what gives anyone permission to call other people illegitimate?
  • The Illegitimacy label forces you to grow up with the belief that you do not have permission to exist, that your existence can never be fully embraced. This feels terrible.
  • Let us refrain from labelling children as illegitimate, it’s a nasty label.  

To the people, who like me, have had to carry the weight of that heavy label, I am sorry. I am also here to tell you that you are perfection personified. You have survived against all odds. Anyone that sees you as illegitimate does not deserve you.

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