Fathers being master gardeners

“…but the one mistake they never make is abandoning their seeds you see fathers are master gardeners they tend to every leaf removing the weeds placing us in the windows of opportunity so that we can lean towards the sun and never forget that the sky is the limit…” – Marshall Davis-Jones

Around the world we are not too different in the ways that we seek for fairness, so if in one part of the world, fathers were held accountable for contributing to the welfare of their children, why do we expect people in Nigeria to be tolerant of the “intolerables”?

There are many sayings in Yoruba that worked hundreds of years ago, and for some very strange reasons despite the more open world, the society still wants the same saying to work despite how much we have changed in the way that we relate to one another as a society.

There is this absurd belief that ‘Okunrin lo l’omo’ – men ‘own’ children. Not owning in the literal sense but it means whatever the circumstances, men have the final say on their children. However, this particular saying did not mention men being responsible for the welfare of their children.

Most Yoruba fathers like other fathers around the world are fantastic and responsible adults but the ones that are not are plain malaise to the society and more damagingly was that they get away with not paying anything towards their children welfare.

“Okay, tell me about your father” I asked Joshua whom I was meeting for the first time ever. His mother only introduced us a few months prior. The first time we talked, it felt as if we’ve  known each other for a long time. His mother is my father’s favourite cousin.

Coz reply was that “there is nothing to tell” – He continued that he did not know his dad at all so really can’t say anything. We both laughed. For me this is interesting as in Yoruba there is this sense that children especially boys will always go back home to look for the father, but that was not my cousin’s case.

He was three months old foetus when his father sent his mother out of ‘his’ house on the ground that she has had two girls and the man being a super smart conception expert knew the third child would be another girl.

My Auntie was a very strong woman and luckily had being working at the local government for a long time starting up as a typist, through thick and thin she retained the job and looked after three children all on her own.

Throughout this time my Auntie didn’t come home as it is frowned upon to dalemosu (divorcee) in Yorubaland at the time. However, she and my father were friends so she’d send photos of her children and letters to my father – he always talk positively of her.

Fast forward many years later, that foetus by chance was a boy now grown up. My cousin was an adult the first time he sets eyes on his father – all along they’ve been living not more than 100 miles apart.

“Well, how do you feel seeing him for the first time” I asked. “Nothing” Coz responded. But do you forgive him of all these years of growing up without him? My cousin was just laughing saying he was emotionless towards the man, that throughout his upbringing it was his mother that he knew although sometimes it was tough but he didn’t feel like he had missed out on anything whatsoever.

When I came across Marshall David-Jones poetry, I thought it was written for Joseph. I do hope many of our men listen to this and realise we are at a different time from our parents. Today being a father means raising a child.

Categories: Nigeria, Women

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17 replies

  1. thanks for sharing this ,so moving

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We are so powerfully connected that I am shaking my head because Nigeria is days away from where I am, we are all having the same issues, symptoms, disorders, dis-eases, mistreatments, undiagnosis’, and non-treatments regardless to our perception of long distance. You my sister are so on point that I feel as if your words are whispered directly in my ear…… You are a constant reminder that we are all connected, what affects you affects me….. keeping writing….. keep talking.

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  3. What about those fathers that are there as if they are not there ‘ awon ti won wa bi alaisi’ there are so many of them in Nigeria and they still shamelessly claim right on the children, and as soon as the child is made , they would insist on upkeep from such a child, it is very common in Ijebuland especially in polygamous families. I thank that is why Ijebu women have turned out to be very hardworking and industrious and they compete among themselves to ensure their own children do not lag behind, they usually would not expect any support from the father of their children. But thank God for education and civilization, men are beginning to have a little shame nowadays. The funny thing is that no child then bore any grudge against their fathers, it was something that was normal to them. I will round up before this becomes a post.

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    • Ha ha, thank you for the insightful comment. Yes, we do have many fathers like that crawling back with the entitlement mindset.

      Then you wouldn’t be too surprised my cousin’s father did exact same thing, yeah. Father begged to be close so he can ‘pull’ his step siblings up, the request the man laughed at. But you see what we say that ‘Olorun kii s’oba ika’ (God is not the king of the wicked). My cousin was a brilliant student, he has done so well for himself.
      When I insinuated ‘be the bigger person’ speech – he just laughed and said ‘he didn’t feel a thing’ and have even warned his mother never to talk about his life with his father. Sad but somebody got to pay.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. FK
    My father played a minor role in my life, due my parents divorcing when I was eight and him subsequently returning to Nigeria, and me remaining with my mother in England. He re-emerged from the age of 13 to 16 (he’d visit once every 2 years in that time), after which he faded away. At the time, I didn’t think too much about it, only when I grew up and saw what society expects of fathers ( I recognised his shortcomings). There was no maintenance. I bear no ill will towards him, I recognise it as a fact, and am thankful that he wasn’t worse.
    Even when I was growing up, it was not uncommon to hear of many African men divorcing from their wives and just abadoning the children. You know the story of Justin Fashanu, him and his brother were given up for adoption because the mother couldn’t cope. So this thing has been running steady since the 1960s at least.
    As for the black community (which includes some Yoruba males), there is a significant minority of young – middle aged men, who either divorce and have nothing further to do with the child, or have many kids by different women and play no part (the women can survive due to state support). They are proud of this achievement as it demonstrates their ‘fertility’. A significant number of the (fatherless) kids get involved in street crime in Britain’s inner cities. You see even with education and kinder living conditions, this phenomena remains…

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    • jco – thank you for sharing your personal story.

      Spot on about the state support making it a little a bit more bearable for the children and the family to cope and thank goodness some of these under performing schools were being merged/head replaced. A friend used to teach in one, it is shocking given this is First World.

      Now this is the delusional part affecting our men – the state support.

      How on earth can a state support be a replacement for a father? Or any parent for that matter?

      Proud of their ‘fertility’ is the key and of course goes with no sense of responsibility at all.

      I was mad at my father for a long time just because he left us for 7months, it was the darkest time of his adult life I think – he was clinically depressed. Went to Ondo to stay with his little brother so both worked as carpenters on Ajasin (governor at the time) project.
      I was upset because he was a good father and the time he was away was very bad for the family but my mother had carried on looking at the bright side.
      The day my father came back, I was retuning from fetching water, with water bucket on my head, I nearly fell over – just overly excited.

      The first thing he asked was – Are you all still at school? I said yes, his eyes were filled with tears.

      From then on he never left us for another day, And this is where I always had flash backs of how we could have turned up if I had a different mother. All my father’s reasons were ridiculous because I believe children would not understand – except if the parent was abusive or other mentally unstable.

      Now, my father is like the father I knew as toddler and in early teen years, I understood completely why he needed space and also realised that the time it take to heal from certain life challenges is different from person to person.

      But to leave your family without looking back and relying on others to raise them while continuing to sow your seeds about is mindless.


      • Great account FK.
        No doubt, having children and not providing for them is unwise – I’m in total agreement, but it still goes on, nevertheless.

        In the olden days, men could get away with it more (because it was only spoken about as whispers or not mentioned at all), but these days people talk about it and take a dim view of it. If one can’t handle being a father, they should seek help, & grow into the role. At the very least use contraception until one is psychologically able to handle the responsibility.

        Your account of your father was a real eye-opener (not to mention very touching). I’ve never heard Nigerians speak of their parent’s frailties not to mention their father. The most I heard of was that ‘it doesn’t occur in the family, other people suffer from such conditions…’ and rubbish of that nature. I now know that is all one big lie.

        I think we make problems bigger by isolating ourselves or keeping things bottled up, this only makes matters worse. We all need help and there is no shame in asking for it (this is different from begging). But our friend Mr Denial, is always just around the corner, and not far behind him comes misery.

        Your father was very brave to take the step of getting diagnosed and seeking some help, and finally to return. It could not have been easy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha, diagnosed? This is another area that we are not doing very well with at home – it is one cap fits all. People don’t get diagnosed for depression in Nigeria, in Yoruba at least, especially if you were in the rural area. all major life challenges that drove people up the wall is seeing as ‘O n ronu’ (deep in thoughts) which is really depression as it means someone is completely disconnected from life around them.

          Everyone gets treated the same way – from death to life threatening illness of a loved one and we expected all to be healed the same way. All of this do not get medical diagnosis, it is the church that we run to.
          So someone like my father who had set his life up got hit badly with family tragedy twice in 3 years was meant to sit by a pastor praying for him – that did not work. Worked for my mother as she allowed herself to grief.

          It is only when I was piecing my father’s attitude together given my exposure that I realised how hard it must have been for him being numb for so many years.

          Ya right, we are the perfect species of human race that deal with pains better – I think part of this was because culturally our elders are not to be questioned so we suck it all up.


          • Thank you for sharing. I thought your Dad went to the town for a diagnosis. My apologies.

            Religion is worth a try, but is not a cure all. It worked for your Mum, but not your Dad. Somehow, he found a way to cope with his situation.

            I tell you my Dad and his family told me so many false pieces of information, I’m glad I was able to develop a capacity to think for myself, to allow me to see things as they really are. I don’t see the harm in questions myself, but then again I was raised abroad (so that may count against me in Nigerian eyes).

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  5. Interesting.
    I count myself lucky to have had my father around. He was a great dad.
    I hope this guy didn’t truly throw away winning a prestigious spelling bee contest to make a simple point like this? LOL

    What is the thing about the ‘dalemosu taboo’; divorcees being shunned in Yoruba-land?
    Is it still actively practiced? I have this Ijebu lady leaving nearby & she is taking a lot of shit from her husband. Nothing we do seems to work & the lady is not helping because she claims he will divorce her if she sides with our efforts… Imagine that! She is terrified of this more than her life. The man is a cop & beats her silly for fun. Our concerned efforts have had him locked up, fined, on extended night duty & transferred, all to no avail. She wont leave & keeps saying she can’t ever go home if he ‘fires’ her…. like my wife funny calls it.

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    • It is indeed lucky having one own father around. Despite all my ‘moaning’, I am very grateful that I have my father – actually, he could not have survived without my mother and vice versa LOL – all children need their fathers.

      Ilemosu in Yoruba is one of those ‘our tradition’ syndrome excuses. It is frowned upon regardless of education, social or economic status. So you will hear mothers saying ‘I am staying for my children’ – Everyone around feels the shame and less concern for the lady’s side of the argument. And of course, the woman in question is made to feel she was the problem hence trapped in abusive relationship.

      It is still the same as it ever was especially in our small towns where majority of Nigerians live, even to a large extent in the city – old habits don’t die easily. However, education is helping a great deal, so attitude is changing especially if the woman could afford to leave the abusive relationship and live alone rather than moving back to parents.

      Committed relationship is beautiful but the reality is sometimes things would not work out for one reason or the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You can’t imagine how stunned I am to learn this. And here I was thinking the Yoruba people are well ahead of the rest of us; other Nigerian ethnic groupings, in achieving relative ‘Women independence’. Na wa O! Show how much I still have to learn about my country.

        We have not given up on assisting the Ijebu lady, she is a part of our community now. She is such a nice lady. She will greet a passing chicken if it could answer back. Visits every house in the entire area if she hears of someone being ill or the family lost a distant relative. She is always there for others. People around here love her so much.
        Our district head (Local Chief) gave her a gift of a sizable plot of land early last year & almost everyone offered one kind of assistance or the other. My son & some other lads are helping her with the building free of charge & I only just learned it is now at roof level. I hope this will help to get the man to shape up…

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s great to hear you guys are given practical help…thank you! See, this will get anyone to ‘heaven’ than sitting in a humid and sweaty four walls for six hours! LOL Ok, now don’t start on church heaven.

          Totally agree with you, there is so much we don’t know of ourselves across the region hence the Liar Liar leaders have used the tiny weeny knowledge to deceive us for too long. I have learnt so much and still learning.

          Yes, we do have better education in the west compared to the north for example but as it is obvious it does not translate to higher hierarchy, not at home, religious centres and society. The women in the south east I would think have similar access to education as the west but are more empowered – as is evidenced in our federal public offices and their lifestyle.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Folakemi, both for posting this moving performance by Marshall Davis-Jones, and for your own insights.

    Liked by 1 person

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