What you need to know:
- Presence, courage, unity, belief-in self, prayer and being active in the lives of those you love and matter are vital lessons that my dad left me. That was my inheritance.
- His exit marked the end of his life, but that was the beginning of self-discovery for me.
- Dad was a man and a half, but he wouldn’t be all that without my mum.
Fifteen years ago, I lost a part of me. I lost my dad. I call him dad and not my father because anyone can be a father, but not everyone can be a dad.
As a teenager then, I knew I had a man to look up to. He did not have it all together, but he was the best I had.
He was present. That is one distinction between a father and a dad. He was affectionate very familiar with what happened in my life every day.
Our relationship was more than that of a man we only share a DNA with. He loved and disciplined us in equal measure.
Thinking about him makes me miss him. I miss doing school assignments with him; I miss his contagious laughter. I miss the prayers, the ones he made us have as a family before going to bed, and the ones he would pray every day at 3 am without fail. My dad was an active one. He was more than just a male parent as he played a significant role in my growth and development as a son and teenager.
He was James Bond
My dad was not a coward. That was a great lesson and attribute I picked from him. Living in a plot in Mathare, crime was the order of the day; however, when we had someone scream “Mwizi, Mwizi!” even at 1:00 am he would be the first to open the door go out to find out who it was. Dad was our James Bond. That courage lives in me, that risk-taking flows in my bloodstream. Trust me; it’s taken me places. I may have lost him, but I gained immensely.
Today, as a young man and a dad, I wear that attribute with pride. From his example, I have refused to let myself be seen, labelled or even appear as a weakling.
I have dared to dream, amidst a highly competitive society, I still show up and present myself for success- because according to dad, it can be done.
My dad never wallowed in self-pity for as long as I can remember.
For many years he was jobless, but that did not stop him from showing up for his family.
He was still protective, supportive, and responsible towards his children and wife with his empty pockets. He cooked the best meals and lightened up the home.
As a man, he led his family, even on his deathbed. Dad made sure we respected our mum, and we remained disciplined, in and out of the house. That man whipped me without mercy. While it looked inappropriate then, today, the discipline has defined who I am. It shaped my path to success.
Presence, courage, unity, belief-in self, prayer and being active in the lives of those you love and matter are vital lessons that my dad left me. That was my inheritance.
His exit marked the end of his life, but that was the beginning of self-discovery for me. Dad was a man and a half, but he wouldn’t be all that without my mum. I discovered this when I had to step in as a deputy parent by being the firstborn. Fifteen years later, I am learning to become a dad too. When I look at my sons, all I wish for, pray for, and work towards is having a great impact on their behaviour, psychology, and development.
To young dads out here, and to every young father who wants to become a dad, paying school fees is not enough; that’s a father’s responsibility. Being present is not enough.
You need to be present-present, not present-absent. Your children need to feel your presence, not just see it.
Your son or daughter may never remember you for paying school fees, buying food in the house or buying them the latest clothes on fashion, but for every memory you chose to create with them, and for every positive attribute and seed you plant in them.