Recently, we had the opportunity to celebrate the fathers during a day called “Father’s Day”. Am not sure what to take of it but grateful of the opportunities to be celebrated, honored and cherished.
I take this time to remember perspectives, perceptions and pertinent issues that arise out of fatherhood. Fathers as I have said before are the poorest defenders of their performance and deliverables. This is because we are generally not wired to count, complain or complemented. Fathers are also not to expect kudos on their backs as they are mere stewards of their roles. Most if not all of what fathers do are considered obligatory in nature.
Several years ago a friend of mine and I were reflecting on losing a parent. He had lost his mother while I had lost my father. We had a very long conversation which concluded that there is more stability when a father dies than when a mother dies first. Recently, while conversing over our future, a high school mate friend of mine indicated that we must work hard to ensure that when we go, our wives can still remain strong and live long to take care of our families.
However, with all the issues that every father has to go through the society seems to have less trumpeters and far inadequate trumpets to blow the father’s role. The urban and rural father are experiencing tough economic times. Cost of basic goods and services have gone up. The pressure on the fathers to deliver is very high. With urbanization growth rate going higher and higher,the man has basically taken over a number of many roles that traditionally were considered roles of the woman. Urbanization has resulted in monetization of all activities and requirements. This has added pressure on the man to deliver since traditionally man is considered as the provider. Traditionally, women would fetch water, firewood, go to the market among others.
These are no longer their roles alone because we have gas cookers, taps within fifty meter radius and motorcycle riders who can be sent to do some of these assignments. However, because these activities require money,the pressure on the father to really supply constantly and with generous proportions enough money to meet the basic needs and other new basic needs is so high. It is high time we review the 24 hour cycle tool in gender analysis and programming.
This does not mean that am negating the gains made concerning the female gender. My concern is that we need to also see how much effort the male gender is putting into all these. It is a good thing to be a responsible father. Responsible fathers enable societies to prosper as they work with the mothers to build a family where there is peace, harmony and love among all the occupants. On the other hand responsible fathers may not enjoy any fruit save for a good name of your children for good performance or good job. Mothers have learnt subtle ways to take credit as the father lies there.
While the world of today one needs to make a lot of noise to be noticed and appreciated, fathers are unable to. Example, check around locally, nationally and globally to verify the number of songs or poems done for either mother or father, the results will shock you. Needless to say that even in old age many fathers suffer loneliness and have to practice solitude to survive.
My call is to every mother and woman to amplify the voice of responsible fathers and husbands. They must celebrate them both in public and in private. We must show that the fathers deserve a pat in the back, they deserve trumpets and songs of cheer for the good work they are doing to ensure society is stable, successful and sentimental.
The reality is that the burden on responsible fathers is overwhelming. It ranges from carrying the family vision to delivering on every promise whether spoken or not. It is a burden to learn and decipher meaning out of every word, signs and wonders.
However, even with this level of responsibility and commitment, fathers still have blind spots that naturally puts them in a disadvantaged position when compared to mothers. First, most fathers are outward looking. They have to spend many hours away from home thus denying them opportunity for the quantity and quality time to spend with their children. In the olden days, sons would join their fathers for hunting expeditions. Secondly, is the disadvantage of how men are created. Our instincts are not very strong hence we do not easily detect certain things especially emotional in our children. As a result, we are weak when it comes to understanding the needs of our children. Many fathers know not the shoe or cloth size for their children unlike the mothers. As a result, naturally, mothers end up buying more of these items to the children more than the fathers. To make matters, I once observed that mothers really delivers their message with some finesse emotional touch. While hiving the cloth and the pair of shoe, a mother is able to emotionally connect with the child by describing how the child is smart. Fathers, it seems, merely buy to cover nakedness as they fail to deliver emotional thunder while giving the clothes. All these internal differences while should be complimentary are usually the points that make fathers not be felt.
Even with all these odds, fathers must not give up or feel inadequate in delivery of this God given mandate. Fatherhood, is the very root of identity for every child. It gives every child, irrespective of the gender, their personhood,potential and paternity. I had not known how this is critically important until when I got interested in watching some programme which my wife is a fan of. The Paternity court is a place where you see men and women cry or experience overwhelming joy due to the DNA test results and the testimony of the father. Even in old age some continue to pursue leads of knowing their fathers.
Lessons from my father
There were important lessons I learnt from my father. Some negative others positive. The negative ones helped me to firm my stand on certain issues. However, for today I will mention just the positive.
For a very long time which is like two thirds of my life with him, he lived as a peasant with very little income if any. The struggles were real from basic needs to school fee payments. His determination encouraged us to press on though unsure of the future. However, whenever he got windfall (I even don’t know where he was getting them), we always had some treat.
Disciplined life: From an early age he instilled in us (the first three of his children. The rest came later and may have not learnt much as he died when they were very young) serious discipline. The discipline to respect others. The discipline to work hard at home and in school. He would always reward us with gifts for sterling performance. Other times, he would just take us to Kisumu and see the biggest town. He also taught us to pray and serve God. From this we shied away from the wild teenage life.
Courage and confidence: When in 1984, his church began to have leadership wrangles, he took his stand. As one who had one of the largest pastorates with 8 local churches, he was very powerful. I saw him have disagreements. His courage was in the fact that the law needed to be followed rather than people’s desires. In 1988, he was one of the unhappy fellows with mlolongo system. He stood against the system to support Joab Omino against the Dr John Robert Ouko. This ability to stand for the right thing and the rights of others was also common when he followed up school performance and management. The collision was real and at time we would bear the brunt. Thank God we had the brains.
Chief executioner. He was always on top of things by making them happen. My dad would take certain risks unexpected. In 1990, his nephew lost the wife. A telegram was sent and I delivered it from school to him. For a while no one knew how the body would come from Mombasa to Kisumu. The story was very long when he shared during the burial that took place almost three months after the death. He flew the body to Nrb as a parcel. Convinced a “Wepesi” (then a Peugeot 506 carrying 8 passenger I guess from Nairobi to Kisumu) driver that he has a parcel at the airport. Passengers boarded the wepesi then they went to JKIA to pick the parcel. Those days, bodies were received with a lot of dirges and fan fare so the driver realized that this parcel was actually the remains of someone after reaching home.
Community service. This man walked on foot together with the late Boniface Achieng Nyambega from kisumu to Kakamega then to Eldoret and Nakuru to raise funds for Bar Mathonye Primary school. Later, when he got employed at Hayer Bishan Singh, he ensured many young people from the neighboring sub locations are given first opportunity for employment.
I could go on and on but I celebrate this man. It is now twenty two and a half years since he passed on. He died before he could enjoy the fruit of his labour. Having analyzed society, it looks like more mothers enjoy the fruit of their wombs than fathers enjoying the fruit of their labour!
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers.
Mothers whether single or double leave us alone do not claim even an hour of the Father’s Day!