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Sheila Ajok of Uganda called many from the continent to discuss something closer to home and bring a human touch forward as the world continues to be troubled by Covid.
I have enjoyed unpacking these series on fatherhood over phone calls and chat with some of you. It has become a conversation starter I never imagined. Fathers are anchors in our lives, and I have learnt that our relationships with them develop firm characters in us. It disheartened me for some who I reached out to who revealed going down memory lane being quite traumatizing because they never built relationships with their fathers since they were absent.
Some respondents said their relationships were transactional if they were lucky to be paid tuition for. Folks let us be present parents.
Gaspar Vid Okumu
When I think of my late father, I remember his generosity. He shared his knowledge with anyone who sought his advice on any subject of his interest like farming methods or cultural practices. He was the second born of three brothers. Being in the middle enabled him bond easily with his brothers in that he became a middle pole which held the roof of the African hut firmly together.
I reflect on the advice he gave me while in Primary Three when my performance in school was poor. He said that I had the opportunity to be what I wanted only if I willed it and worked hard for it and the only route to achieve that was through good education. From that day all my endeavors and efforts were guided by the advice I received from my father.
Throughout my childhood from Primary Four to Senior Four, I maintained the number one position. I did this because of the guidance and words of encouragement from my father. This good performance later earned me a six-year bursary from Madhvani Foundation which enabled me study from Junior One through Senior Four.
My father’s prophetic advice saved him the burden of paying my tuition thus helping him send my siblings to good schools too. When I reminisce on this, I feel like building an edifice in his honour. Recently while up country supervising my project, I decided to name the access road to the project, Vidensio Mupe Close to ease the work of drivers delivering materials and hopefully guide future visitors to our home. By having the signpost at the junction of the main road many passersby will ask who he was, and his story will be retold.
When I think of my father, I am reminded of someone who must have been sent as a messenger on earth to validate some valid points about certain merits.
When I think of my father, I am reminded of him as the Lord’s messenger on experiences we had to live to understand and not just be told or read out of a book.
My father was a messenger, an action messenger on so many things. One needed to have lived with him to get the depth of what it is I am trying to say. He was a messenger on loving deeply. It was either all or nothing. There was a uniqueness with the way he cherished each of his children and revealed it deeply.
God’s messenger on humour, I recall how each time as kids when we knocked ourselves against hardwood and it hurt so bad, he teased us about it despite the pain we were feeling. He was witty.
A messenger on wisdom, knowing when to give in and when to let go, when to fight and when to delay. A messenger on the combination of strategy and patience – a rare combination; not worried about being considered a fool if he saw the goal in mind.
A messenger on calm, a deep sort of calm, settling our fears amid storms. I cannot forget how he relentlessly asked head teachers to let us study and assured them that he would later pay, not knowing then how the money would eventually come through, trekking from one school to another if only they let us stay another study day.
On resilience, with a fighter’s attitude, one foot in front of the other, from one doctor’s appointment to another, never losing hope of miraculously getting healed one day.
On generosity, never letting anyone coming his way for help go away empty handed, no wonder his home was always full, his burial even fuller of throngs coming to lay him to rest.
On the bigger things in life, letting you understand when loving needed to cover another’s wrongs, “Eh! but daddy!” You were all these and more, teaching not with words but with every single action of your life.
You are dearly missed. My only hope is that I will look into your face one day, one more time, when we meet again. My greatest promise from the Lord is that indeed I will be able to see you again. One love until we meet again. Forever loved, my Angel.
When I think of my father, I think about the God-fearing man he is.
Born in 1947, he raised seven of us, five sisters and two brothers. An obsessed business professional from Mzumbe University, he worked with Regional Trading Company (RTC), Tanzania. My parents were the perfect couple, my late mum a smart home maker.
He is composed no matter what crisis arises. He is a shock absorbent and a good mediator between people amid crises. He always believes the next day will be better no matter how long it takes.
He keeps a low profile, only showing up in difficult situations to mediate and forge a way forward. He is optimistic and always encourages us to focus on the positive.
Now that he is ageing, minor things tend to worry and unsettle him, but we are always keeping his hope alive. He retired and keeps himself engaged in church activities and this has kept him active.
I miss that my mum is not around to keep him company through his retirement, but we always endeavor to check on him whenever we can. He is my hero.
When I think of my father, I always smile at how him and my mum have such different energy yet are so connected in a unique way. My dad is a quiet and very principled person, straight forward and will always give you an honest opinion, take it or leave it. He says less and always has crazy sardonic comments that takes an alert mind to pick on.
I vividly remember those early mornings when he would prepare me for school in Primary one. He would cool my hot tea so I could drink it fast enough to beat the reporting time of 8:00am at Shimoni Demonstration School. He never missed any visitation in high school and he always responded to my cries for pocket money I guess because I was the last born and I do not remember ever lacking.
There is a lot to be thankful for, but I pray God continues to keep him healthy and strong so that I can give him all he needs.
Alain St. Ange
When I think of my father, Karl St. Ange, an island boy was the loving father and grandfather who is greatly missed today. A farmer who moved when tourism started in earnest in Seychelles to build his own hotel right on the beach on one of the Seychelles most beautiful islands.
He was no hotelier by profession, but the human side of him loved to host people. He joined politics to help free Seychelles of the colonialist set up and moved in difficult times to be an elected member of the Island’s Governing Council and Legislative Assembly. After Independence of Seychelles, he became a Minister in the Government.
His readiness to dish out advice coupled with his jovial nature made him the man who earned the name “Icon of La Digue.” He held the family together and was forever the loving Dad I cherished and loved.
When I think of my father, there is nothing much to think about. Thinking about him is a traumatizing experience. My father was never present, absent was his second name. I cannot begin to think about him, to be honest I admire my friend’s fathers because I never got a chance to be my father’s Princess.
His absence affected me regarding who I dated, I grew up with a sense of rejection and people pleasing demeanor. I do not face conflict in a constructive way and in men I looked for men who were absent in my life. I am learning to unlearn this now.
If you would like to send a shout out to your father, send an email to email@example.com
Thank you all for contributing to the fatherhood series. I have drawn lessons and I hope you have too.
Beginning June, a new series on the agony of pandemic parenting will be shared.
I would like to hear your stories on what it has really been like raising children over the past year, the highs and lows.
Send your experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking forward to unpacking them here.
Sheila Ajok Lubangakene