What does it take to be a father

Gender inequality of all forms may well be global challenge but Nigeria one is slightly different, in the sense that there is almost no ending to how women are made to bend over for just about anything.

The story goes that a lady had a child with her boyfriend while at university, she wrote an open letter to the father. According to her, their relationship ended after the birth of the child. Child now seven years old and at school. The father had only paid for one term of school fees and he doesn’t see his child, he has moved on to re-marry.

It was a bit emotional plea, ex  almost begging the man to do the needful.

After reading that blogpost, I can see why a nation like Nigeria fails on all levels. There are so many laws in the land but the enforcement of them is another case entirely.

In the case of a relationship break up, if the child is old enough and the father is keen, he could take the child with him. But for those who wanted to move on with new partner, they don’t look back unless they are sensible – all that we rely on is peer pressure to get people to think straight but this strategy seldom work for everyone.

There is a saying that Iyawo ta n fe l’omo e n wu ni (children are loved if the father  still in love with the mother). Lazy thinking fathers use this saying to their advantage, hence many walk away from the relationship with no thoughts to the welfare of the child.

An uncle of mine is like one of these fathers. At one point his wife left him due to health reasons, she left their 10 and 8 year old sons with the father. She would have gone with the boys but my uncle insisted he was going to look after them given the woman wasn’t mentally stable to care for them.

Few months down the line uncle decided to travel out of town looking for job. He left the two boys with my father to look after – let’s just say to my mother to look after.

He was only about a year away from home but ended up fathering another son by another woman. As it is his manner, he returned home without the new woman, but told his brother (my father) to expect addition to the family soon.

After settling back in the village, the first wife got better, they successfully settle their misunderstanding and family was back together, the boys with my family went to their parents – everyone was happy.

One day after church service, we came home to see the little boy and his maternal grandmother waiting for my father in the verandah – she was a pleasant woman. She chose to see my father rather than the father of her grandson. Her daughter, my uncle’s girl friend had reunited with her husband too, hence the grandmother’s visit.

Yea, both woman and man’s friend are match from heaven.

Surprisingly, my father was getting a bit tired too, he definitely could not afford to keep the new boy in school at that point in his life.

The boy’s grandmother was a very smart woman, she was happy to leave the boy with my father just as the tradition states, however, if he is going to end up with a father who cannot be bothered to look back and check on the product of his seeds for five years, she’d rather take the boy back with her to town.

In the end, the grandmother left with the boy. As for the uncle, I doubt he has seeing the boy since that day.

My cousin is a grown man now in his early thirties, heaven knows what he thinks of his father, probably don’t even think of him at all. And why should he?

But I wonder, for how long do we make women the sole provider for children especially in a country where welfare support is non existence? This goes of the post I read.



Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Women

Tags: , ,

10 replies

  1. Personally, I feel the responsibility begins in the home, with the parent(s) stating that responsibility for raising one’s kids is a shared duty. This should be reflected in reality, not just words.
    As the African-American film director says “Do the right thing!”.
    I saw this clip of an injured zebra whom it appears is going to make the next meal for the hungry hyenas. One felt gloomy as the possible outcome, but his ‘brethren’ came to the rescue and at least for that instant the injured zebra hobbled on to live for another moment.
    Humans are ‘supposed’ to be a higher form of life, but if fathers can’t face their responsibility, this does call such a claim about humans into question. If zebras (who are not the parents) of the injured one, act responsibly, why can’t humans?
    Here is the clip in question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the clip, jco. Absolutely agree that it is the responsibility of both parents to look after their offspring and true that it all starts from home.

      Also I think a society like Nigeria where there is emphasis on having children in wedlock, should also educate their kids on taking responsibility even if a child happens to be from outside of it.

      I think this will help us more as a nation in the long run. Imagine a man having 4 children from three different relationships, if he has to visit and pay child support, next time he would need no reminder to act responsibly.

      Like

      • You’re absolutely right.
        I think ‘duty’ is a keyword that should be emphasized here. Parents are duty-bound to provide for their offspring, not dump them on the streets (like the almajiri boys), or walk away from them ‘expecting’ the mother to single-handedly (do the work of both parents).
        I would use the word ‘honor’ as well, but in England – some people from the Middle East and South Asia have abused that that word by using it as an excuse to ‘murder’ their daughters should they dare disobey the parents by not consenting to be married off.
        ‘No child should be left behind or abandoned’ in this regard, Nigeria has a very long way to go.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed on the emphasis of duty to the parents whatever the age.

          Talking about duty, how can Nigeria ever get to that when we never see ahead of any problem until we are knee deep in it – in the northeast IDP camps during the month of August and September 410 births and 110 marriages were recorded, where do we suppose those kids would end up? Almajiri likely.

          http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fertile-camps/

          One would have thought having thousands of people so crammed in one place would be the best time to ‘preach’ about duty that accompanied having children and at the same time preach family planning and offer free contraceptives + other birth control methods – not my people.

          Yes, we do have a long way to go.

          Like

          • Your points are ‘spot on’.
            Government is a golden opportunity here to instill some good practices.
            Also, what are they doing to preoccupy people? Any adult literacy classes?

            You are right the same cycle of ignorance, poverty will repeat itself, and the next generation of almajiri or boko haram recruits will be born.

            Yet there are ‘experts’ who got their qualifications in the UK, and are paid handsomely for creating and managing these ‘camps’. Where is the accountability?

            It seems people are very slow to learn these basic lessons.

            Thank you FK.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I read somewhere about the children being schooled and women going through some skill acquisition program- not sure how that is on ground.

              Again, you are right about the returnee experts apparently some even demand higher fee than Oyinbo for half decent job – our wahala is multilayered. We will get there one day…

              Like

  2. Nigeria, Ghana and some other African countries are called matrilineal for a reason. In Yoruba land in the olden days, you would hear ‘Ile ìyá’ and not ‘ilé Baba’ for a reason, it is believed that children are the mothers’ ‘belongings’ if I may call it that and not the fathers’. Thank God for civilization, rise in literary level and enlightenment, there has been a tremendous improvement and I am sure it will only get better. Even in ‘civilized’ countries it takes a lot of enforcement and monitoring to make fathers cough up maintenance for their children especially when the relationship between the parents has gone stale. E ku ojo meta.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, we do talk about the importance of mothers a lot. The matrilineal concept is not universal though, not in Nigeria and not even in Yorubaland, otherwise we would have seen many of our women who are educated, smart, sensible being in top leadership positions.

      If naturally most of our women would not walk away from their children, I think it is important that our men get the lessons too, learning that once a child is involved, it is their responsibility to cater for it, even if the relationship goes south – life happens but child must be looked after.

      Even in advanced nations with decent law enforcement, I have seen broken relationships where they don’t need to involve the court at all – adults deal with their issues and settle it all inhouse. Fathers don’t just want to walk away. Over time the sensible ones knew it takes raising a child to be a father.

      As you pointed out, enlightenment is helping but we can barely scratch the surface especially in our rural areas.

      Ojo kan pelu o, a ku imura odun, yio tu wa lara.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The father’s part in raising the child is so important. However, the ideal situation doesn’t always exist. Let’s hope the child realizes this when he becomes a father and makes the effort to be there for his children.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

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