What you need to know:
- Isaac Robert Kariuki was okay with his mother’s presence until she died in 2003, throwing him off balance.
- He then realised just how much he needed a father to guide him.
- He completed high school and joined Daystar University for a degree in Electronic Media.
- Inherited his mother's businesses and managed them while in university.
- He dropped out at Fourth Year because of what he terms as “confusion and trying to find myself.”
- He sought solace in intimate relationships, got married in 2005, and had a daughter, marriage failed within two years.
- There are high incidents of stress among the boys with 68 per cent of suicides committed last year being boys.
- Study shows that a father’s absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development.
Isaac Robert Kariuki was okay with his mother’s presence.
Not until death snatched her away in 2003. Her demise threw him off balance.
“I felt empty and lost,” says the 32-year-old.
It is at this time that Mr Kariuki realised just how much he needed a father to guide him and teach him how to be, in his words, “a responsible man”.
“My mother was there for me and guided me all through,” he says.
“I never felt any gap for a father because she filled it very well. She gave her all to make sure my two sisters and I were happy.”
Mr Kariuki was a 15-year-old Form Two student at a Nairobi school when his mother died. It was tough to lose the only parent he knew. Had it not been for the encouragement from his mother’s relatives, Kariuki says he would have opted out of school.
DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL
He finished high school and joined Daystar University for a degree in Electronic Media. Savings from his mother’s businesses saw him through high school and up to Third Year in the university.
He inherited her businesses and managed them while undertaking his undergraduate studies.
He, however, dropped out at Fourth Year because of what he terms as “confusion and trying to find myself.”
The juggle between studying and trying to understand his capacity as a heir of the family’s property was overwhelming and confusing.
“I was totally confused. I did not know whom to turn to. I messed up big time. I wished I had a father to tell me what was wrong from right,” he says in a solemn voice.
He sought solace in intimate relationships until he got married in 2005, and had a daughter.
The marriage, however, failed two years later due to irreconcilable differences. The estranged wife later died in 2015. He is taking care of his now 14-years-old daughter.
Neither marriage nor intimate relationships would help him find himself.
So he tried hard drugs. From 2006 to 2013, Kariuki dived in hard drugs as he sought to escape the feeling of emptiness and confusion.
Finally, grace knocked on his door.
“I got a girlfriend, now my wife, who understood my situation and helped me understand how to nurture my masculinity in the absence of a father,” says the father to two daughters.
Mr Kariuki is now an accomplished music producer and owns a fashion company that makes denim for artists.
“Sometimes I wonder whether I am raising my daughters well as a father since I have no experience on what it feels to be raised by a father,” he says.
He wishes men can own up mentorship and guidance for their children.
“For any father out there who has a child and knows where that child is, my appeal to you is to reach out and be there for that child. You will never know how much he or she needs you,” he says.
During a July 28 webinar on Raising the Boy Child in the 21st Century, Simon Mbuvi, founder of Transform Nations noted of a misconstrued notion that boys are doing just fine and therefore, they do not need much attention.
“There are wrong assumptions that the boy is okay when he is not okay,” he said.
“There are high incidents of stress among the boys. Last year, boys made up 68 per cent of suicides committed.”
He advocated for nurturing the boys’ masculinity through male mentors and role models.
A study on Causal Effects of Father Absence notes that a father’s absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development.
These effects, it says, may be more pronounced if father absence occurs during early childhood than during middle childhood and they may be more pronounced for boys than for girls.