While a small part of me sometimes balks at specific ‘days’ for celebrating people in your life, the other part recognises that symbolic gestures and events are what break the monotony of day to day to life. So if Father’s Day does nothing at all,it brings to mind the importance of fatherhood in the life of a child.
My father wasn’t perfect but gosh I look back now at the memories we had and know for a FACT that a huge part of who I am today is due to the relationship that we had. I really wish that I grew up in the digital era because it annoys me to no end that the only digital picture I have of me and my dad is the one we took on my wedding day (9 months before he passed).
This being the only picture I have of us is quite ironic as he was the one of the few Nigerian parents I knew who did not make a big fuss about marriage. He would say ‘Marry IF and WHEN you want, I am not raising my girls to measure their worth by whether or not they are married’. Believe me when I say that the ‘IF you want to get married’ mindset was (and still is) unique for a Nigerian. Marriage is seen as a foregone conclusion for females in most Nigerian cultures.
While I do not have other pictures I can carry around in my pocket ,I carry around in my heart all the memories that we created. I am often reticent to give parenting advise but if there is one thing I would advise all Fathers (parents generally) it would be to;Create memories with your children.
The memories stay with them when you are long gone.I am grateful that my dad provided for my material needs(food,clothing,shelter,education etc) but those in themselves do not fully embody the relationship or moments that I now really treasure.Here are just a few of my fond memories:
🔸Our disagreements;Me and my dad were a splitting image of each other but we were also the two people who called each other out the most. We had a lot of things that we disagreed on and I now think we both disagreed so much because we were really alike.
🔸Our long Saturday morning talks.And I mean LONG! He used to come back home quite late during the week and we would often be asleep when he got in.Roll on Saturday morning and he would want to spend the whole morning chatting about how your week went when all we wanted to do was complete our chores and go out(my social life was full). He always wanted to chat about every thing and called a family meeting for every little thing especially as we grew older.It used to mildly irritate me and my siblings but gosh how I miss those long chats now
🔸Our trips to Obalende Suya spot for Suya when he had just won a contract.He was a typical Lagos boy (or man) and he LOVED eating out. For my non-Nigerian readers,there is a prevailing stereotype about people from Lagos and their love for eating out. My dad was the first man who ever took me out and it was a regular occurrence. It also meant that a guy taking me on a ‘date’ was never a novelty.From Eko Holiday Inn(as it was called at the time) to Amala Shitta, an Nkwobi joint in Fadeyi,Chadon Kitchen etc ..(all food haunts in Lagos,Nigeria) .My dad was the eating out connoisseur. He knew the best places to get what food in Lagos.From street food to proper restaurants,we visited them either as a pair or with the whole family.
🔸 Me and him driving around while he was working on his business. My Dad(both parents really) exposed us to what they did from a young age. He was also into politics and I attended political rallies with him from as young as 7/8. I remember meeting MKO Abiola(a presidential candidate) in 1993 at a political rally my dad organised. I also remember going to a lot adult/corporate spaces as a child with my dad. I think it is one of the reasons I don’t feel too intimidated by authority figures.
🔸When he taught me how to play chess instead of Ludo. He said ‘Chess is a good game for you to learn strategy that you can apply to life,Ludo is often down to luck/chance’. I was probably 8 or 9 and my father was talking to me about strategy
🔸The ways he would stand up for us when other adults wanted to shut us up. People would say things like ‘Oyinda talks a lot’ and his answer would be ‘Let her talk’. Some elements of Nigerian culture can be quite hierarchical with children airing opinions not exactly encouraged. But my dad wanted to hear your opinion. He wanted you to think for yourself and challenge the status quo. He disliked hearing ‘That’s how it’s always been done’ and would often say ‘Well we can try something different’.Now as a parent myself I do think that there is a balance that needs to be struck with this but I am grateful I had a parent who let me realise that my opinion mattered even though I was a child.
🔸Our debates; I still think my ability to facilitate discussion and understand nuance is because of how me and my dad interacted. He was never absolute in stances that he held and always believed that there could be something to be learned from the other person even if they were younger. Upon reflection I don’t think I am even that open as a parent and I think I can do better.
I could go on and on but I will stop here. Happy Fathers Day to Oluwatoyin Abdul Ganiyu Rasaq. Thank you for being a part of the woman I am becoming. I love and miss you loads.
Here’s also wishing all the men who are fathers and play the role in some form or the other a Happy Father’s Day weekend.. May the God who embodies the role in the purest form grant you all the grace and wisdom you need to perform the role to the best of your ability.