Fathers, daughters, and son open up

Mwaniki Mageria

From left: Mwaniki Mageria, Secretary General, Riverwood Filmmakers Association (father), Tendaishe Mageria, Tolani Mageria, Jacque Mageria (mother) and Tendo Mageria. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Fatherhood is also about energy.
  • I would love to hear my daughter tell me, 'oh, daddy, I'm getting engaged.

THE FATHER, Mwaniki Mageria

TV Personality. Secretary General, Riverwood Filmmakers Association

Mwaniki Mageria

Mwaniki Mageria, Secretary General, Riverwood Filmmakers Association.

Photo credit: Pool

I turn 57 next week. I got my first child when I was around 27 years old. Nobody teaches you to raise children, you just go with what you saw growing up and you choose to employ what you like and leave out what you don’t. My dad was a cop and then he became a corporate man. Very strict. Fatherhood then seemed to be about laying down rules and enforcing those rules. Things have changed now. You have to listen. You have to be more intentional.

I decided to get into business so that I could be there for my children more. Jackie, my wife, has been a great friend and partner in this journey.

Fatherhood is also about energy. I have always tried not to carry the energy of the day into the house. So when I’ve had a bad day, I will always get home, sit in the car for a bit and try to leave the energy in the car.

What gift would I like for Father’s Day? I would love to hear my daughter tell me, 'oh, daddy, I'm getting engaged.' That'd be nice. Because doing life alone is difficult. I think it's also important to pass on the heritage to another generation. The greatest gift God gave me is having my children and I cannot imagine my life without them. So I would want them to feel the same thing, have the same thing and know that it gives you such purpose and excitement.

However, I also want them to be happy. There is something they did for me a month ago; they got me some nice clothes and my favourite drink. That was really nice. Spending time together and creating memories is one of the things that I think would be the best gift that a father would have with his daughter. Children create memories. Maybe a holiday.

THE DAUGHTER, Tendesha Mwaniki

Virtual assistant and business operations manager

When I think of my dad when I was a child, I remember my dad with a guitar. He always seemed to be strumming the guitar, singing. I remember that he was always at school functions. When I looked over at the throng of sitting parents, I always knew that he was there, that he had come. There was never any doubt.

My dad hasn’t changed much. But our relationship has evolved in the sense that now we're able to have more serious conversations than when we were younger. We are friends now.

He has taught me to always speak up for myself. I have learned from watching him to not be apologetic for who you are. My dad is not apologetic for who he is. He doesn’t pretend. He has always been the guy who walks into a room and lights it up. His flaws? He can be technical about things. He can stick to a position and not move from it. Once he has decided on something, it’s tough to move his position. Funny—that’s one of the qualities we share.

I was telling my friends the other day, I'm an awkward hugger, but the one person that I would always reach out for a hug to and be happy to receive a hug from is my dad.

I am always hugging him or holding his hand. There is this bond that we share. We are both extroverted, and we are both creative. We think outside the box.

I liked how proud he was of me when I graduated. He was probably more excited than I was.

THE SON, Tendo Mageria

Musician, artist, founder Acadia Entertainment, 26

What I remember of my dad growing up is him perching me on his shoulders. It made me feel giddy with happiness. I also remember that I was always laughing with him.

He is a man of his word. He always keeps his word. He's not afraid of being wrong, it might take him a week or so to realise he’s wrong but he won’t be afraid of that admission. He’s confident and very outgoing.

There was a time, I must have been 18, when I felt lost. I was in my room, struggling alone, at the odd end. Something told me to go talk to my dad. I went downstairs to the living room where he was and before I said a word, I started crying. He hugged me. He asked me what was wrong and we talked about whatever was disturbing me. That’s one of the most special moments I think of when I think of my dad in my younger days.

When I finally become a father, I want to be a father like my dad. I think I will be a good father if I can match what I’ve learned with the experiences I have had with him.

THE FATHER, Samuel Mwangi

A farmer, businessman, and Arsenal fan

(His wife died 25 years ago, leaving him with young children. He never remarried.)

Samuel Mwangi

Samuel Mwangi, and his two children, Sharon Wangare (right) who is now a Luxury Spirits brand ambassador at Diageo and Timothy Mwangi, who is now 27-years-old. 

Photo credit: Pool

When my wife died, she left me with young children. I then made a personal decision not to remarry because they were too young and I feared victimisation of the children by whoever would be my spouse. Whoever, every man needs and has a friend so I wouldn’t want to dwell on that point for now because my daughter is seated here with me. Raising children alone is hell on earth.

However, I was lucky to have their auntie nearby to help me navigate this. I was also there for the father figure but also to discipline them when they got out of hand. I thank God that they listened to me and that they were good children. My advice to fathers? Be very close to your children, befriend them. Let them not fear you. Be polite when mentoring them. Spend time; make time to attend school functions. Set a good example because they become what they see. Encourage them to display their talents. My children are all grown up and left, except my son, who lives with me. I’m only living where I live because of the young one.

When he lives, I have no reason to continue living in the house. I will focus on farming and real estate business and football. My advice to widowers with small children? If you only have one or two children, then marry immediately. Get someone who can help you raise them. If you have many children, I don’t think it would be necessarily getting into another marriage. Let them grow up first.

THE DAUGHTER Sharon Wangare,

Luxury Spirits brand ambassador, Diageo,31

Sharon Wangare Mwangi

Sharon Wangare Mwangi, the Luxury Spirits Brand Ambassador, Diageo.

Photo credit: Pool

When my mom died, I was perhaps only seven years old. That’s back in 1999. There were four of us—two boys and two girls.

I have this one memory I have of my dad growing up. I had gone away to high school and when I came back, I recall him being so shocked to see me. He said, “Oh my, you look exactly like your mother.”

Most of my dad’s pieces of advice were dispensed in the evening. They were so random. It would be about life or money or men. A lot of the things I now know about men in terms of what to look out for, bad boys, and what not to accept. He affirmed me by telling me, ‘Sharon, I want you to know that you are a beautiful girl, no matter what.” So that always stuck with me and it kind of gave me a footing to just hold my own.

We all did chores. We always had breakfast together because he emphasised that it was the most important meal of the day. I was a quiet child, I didn’t give him much trouble. When I became a teenager we developed our frictions because, I guess he was genuinely frustrated, he didn't understand why his little girl was growing up so fast.

Growing up without a mother became more apparent when I started becoming aware that other girls had mothers who could help them figure out life. I think because I lacked a mother, I lacked some feminine traits like knowing when to hug someone who needs it. I was lacking the soft feminine traits.

High school was tough when other people’s moms would cook the whole night for visiting days. My dad would show up with pocket money, a newspaper, and one of those biscuits that could fit in his coat pocket. That’s when I realised the difference between having a dad and a mom.

My mum’s younger sister, with whom she was close, stepped in to take on the mother’s role. She addressed most of the questions I had about being a woman. She was very approachable, and she was younger, so she kind of helped to bridge the gap.

My dad could have been like any other widower who marries soon after but he made the decision to raise us and sacrifice that part of his life for us.

You only become aware of his sacrifice much later in life. When my time came to move out and start a life of my own, of course, I remember holding that off for as long as I could so as not to leave him alone. Often, after I had moved out, I was worried about him; would he be lonely living by himself?

I wish he could meet someone. Right now I am actually on a mission to try and hook him up with someone because I feel like what he needs is a soulmate. And like I said, he likes to tell stories, to share moments. He's become softer and more open now that we're grown up. So now more than ever, I'd really love for him to meet someone.

My dad is big on memories, so that would be the gift we would offer him on Father’s Day. Normally, we would just sit and share a bottle of Singleton whisky and talk and laugh. In terms of gifting, I don’t wait for occasions to gift him and whenever I do I love the excited look on his face, he turns into a child again.

bikozulu @gmail.com