“…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.