Australia: Court orders Zim man to stop calling daughter ‘snobbish coconut’; Cow fine for virginity break

Australia media

QUEENSLAND: AN African father has been banned by court order from calling his daughter a coconut, the derogatory term for somebody who is “black on the outside, but white inside”.

The Family Court, sitting in Townsville, heard the girl, who is nine, was upset by her father’s use of the term. Both of her parents are black Africans, but the girl is being raised as “a typical Queensland schoolgirl” who is “proud of her African culture”.

The girl’s mother, who cannot be named, took the matter to court after an exchange between the father and their daughter on Skype during which he refused to use any language other than his Shona dialect, in which the girl is not fluent.

The girl’s parents met in Africa in 2003. They are from neighbouring countries, but the father identifies as “Shona in descent and culture”.

The father told the court they were married in 2004, but a dispute broke out because “after our marriage, her parents demanded that I give them a cow as a fine for having deflowered their daughter. I refused because I knew I was not the one who had broken her virginity”.

A second dispute broke out when the mother discovered the father had significant debts; and then because the father believed “the mother was being tardy in performing her cultural obli­gations in meeting his family”.

They separated before their daughter was born. In 2008, when the girl was three, her mother moved, with her ex-husband’s permission, to southeast Queensland to take up a job as a health professional.

The father has never moved to Australia and the court heard he communicates with his daughter mainly by Skype but it never goes well because, among other things, he speaks to her only in Shona, in which she is “not particularly fluent” and because he calls her a coconut.

Judge Peter Tree said the ­father “appears to have formed the view that the child, whilst a black African, is growing up white … I have little doubt the father ­believes the child is not growing up as he believes a black African should.

“He has used the words ‘snobbish coconut’ in correspondence with the mother, and I have little doubt that not only has he used that word directly to the child, but that he genuinely believes that to be the case.”

He was ordered to address her using only the name her mother gave her, and was granted contact and Skype time at the mother’s discretion.


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