When you find an African adult who’s always trying to force their way, it’s likely they grew up without a present father.
Mothers love and nurture.
African Fathers show you your boundaries.
Exceptions exist of course but this is about the rule.
Something y’all don’t know about me - I was born out of wedlock.
Because of my birth, my parents decided to get married and raise a family.
I keep kidding to my younger ones that they owe me their lives... but I digress.
I was born in 1986... it was a time when my dad could’ve chosen to not take responsibility without much consequence.
Still, he chose to be our father before he was ready.
I’m not sure if he ever knew that I’d learned about the circumstances of my birth, or if he knew that it taught me more about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY than I’d ever read in a book.
A kid with my kind of tendencies would have been a societal wreck without the firm hand of a present father.
My mum was fantastic at nurturing but I could deceive her easily.
I couldn’t deceive my dad. He was the eagle eyed disciplinarian.
As a man like me, he knew what my future temptations would be and stood firm to chisel me in the way of discipline.
I remember when at 16, I was attending GCE lessons in Port Harcourt.
Sometimes I would cut class and go play video games (James Bond Golden Eye).
On one particular day, my father’s spirit gave him expo and told him that I wasn’t attending lessons... so he decided to verify in person.
On that fateful day, my own spirit too (that I inherited from my father) told me to maybe not cut classes on that day.
I didn’t understand why but I heeded.
Someone came into the class and told me my father was outside looking for me.
Surprised-ish, I came outside and saw him standing there. He was squinting as if trying to verify that it was really me.
I looked at him and smiled.
He didn’t smile back. He looked disappointed... like he hoped he wouldn’t find me in class as evidence of my truancy.
I kept smiling at him and we just stood there looking at each other - 2 spirit men acting on a spiritual tip-off.
He finally broke the stare and said sternly, “God saved you today”.
Before? Lion no dey born goat.
Whoever snitched on me would be in tears ‘rye now’.
He left for home and I went back into the class but you can bet that after that close shave, I never cut class again.
This sort of ‘close marking’ herded through my teen years until I reached my age of consciousness - 21.
From that point on, I’d been properly formed as a man.
My dad ensured I knew the Bible from cover to cover so that I’d be able to fight my own battles when I left the home.
He ensured that I knew how to think through matters rigorously enough to arrive at meaningful solutions.
He gave me local wisdom and taught me the politics of building relationships with those who were much older, wiser and more advanced than me - a skill that helps me to this day.
For some reason, we’re in a world that diminishes the role of fathers.
Even in western media, movies and sitcoms, the mum is typically depicted as the superhero, while the dad is made out to be the clumsy, fumbling dude who can never figure things out.
Thankfully, Nollywood didn’t copy that. It’s certainly not our reality.
And so without taking anything away from the role of mothers, I’d like to appreciate the present fathers here.
It’s easier to check out mentally and break under the pressure... but thank you for being present and playing your role in the raising of strong, emotionally balanced adults.
Thanks also to those men who fathered kids that aren’t theirs biologically - for not withholding your finances, emotional support and direction from those kids who came into this world with nobody.
And finally, thanks to the strong mothers who help to make fatherhood easy.
If you’re a man of substance, I implore you to do more than father your own biological kids.
If you care to look around you - in church or in your neighbourhood, you’ll find kids in less fortunate circumstances who need a word, a compliment, a meal or maybe assistance for education.
Withhold not your wisdom.
Withhold not your coin.
Claim them before the streets do.
As we say in Africa, “It takes a village to raise a child”.
Happy Father’s Day to us all.