So the month of June brought with it, strapped in its arms, Father's day. It was a day supposed to have been a celebration of the men in our lives. Children worldwide were meant to look upon it with awe and grateful spirits. They say a father should be a daughter's first love and a son's first hero. They say fathers are meant to provide the strength, the security and reassurance that life will be okay. They say a father is the pillar of a home, the master of his castle, the fearless arrow in times of war. Many took to social media to praise their fathers. I looked at all the hullabaloo and felt all the anger rise up from within me. I have been a girl who has never known her father, never will. I wondered how people could praise the undeserving. How would you explain that to a child whose only memory they have of their father is the reign of terror that descended upon the family each time he was home? How would you explain that to a child whose rough idea of a father is the comparison of a barking dog, a heartless creature? How would a daughter who watched their father languish in alcoholism and adultery, eventually infecting their mother with the deadly virus understand all this? How would a woman, bitterly denied and rejected while she was pregnant explain all this to a child that she so struggles to take care of on her own.
The truth is social media has brought with it a tone of hypocrisy. People are so quick to shower praises and honour on parents they do not even speak to. The truth is that we are raising boys who do not care one bit about family. We have loads of young fathers who do not understand the sacrifices that come with that title. We have people who have rejected their unborn children without missing a beat. We have men who have reigned terror on the mothers, and on their children. Our society is flowing with irresponsible men who would rather let their own kids eat the scraps from under their high tables instead of providing a quality life for them. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody wants to say that it is wrong. People hear this and they think there is too much bitterness lying in wait inside me. People do not understand because fathers’ taking their kids for granted has become the order of the day. Nevertheless, our upcoming fathers, our sons, need to understand that there is no two ways about being a good father. You have to set the rules, yes. You have to be firm in your authority, but the greatest thing you can give your child is to love them, provide them the inspiration they need to become their best in this life. You need to make sure that your child's self-esteem never runs dry; you have to teach them that which they are not taught in school. You have to be an active participant in their day to day lives. You have to strive to provide for them a better life than that which you had. You may give them everything material but of what value will it be if it was not wrapped in love? You may believe that this is a totally feminist idea but one day you will be thankful that this was said. We, ladies, have to cultivate this within our sons.
I have seen a lot of things happen around me. I have tried to understand some of our African traditions and the one thing I never agreed on, even with my grandmother was the idea that a father who once abandoned their child had the right to trot right back in and demand the child, especially if it was a boy. I have watched the horror of fathers showing up after years of absence to claim the children that they abandoned, and the only price they had to pay was two cows and perhaps a goat. It sickens me to the stomach. It makes me wish that I could educate fathers-to-be. It makes me want to bend the rules. It makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs that life will never be the same for those children that you abandon, not even when you place the world shimmering at their feet. It makes me want to hope that those friends around me, will provide the best for the children they bring into this world, not just materially, but also with that which only the heart can give. It makes me hope that no child will be left like a guitar without a string, with love on a cordless string to fend for themselves. I can only hope that those with ears will eventually listen to the cries of this broken heart.
Written by Maureen Songa
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