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Father’s Day And The Essence Of Fatherhood By abiodun KOMOLAFE



By abiodun KOMOLAFE

Tomorrow, Sunday, June 16, is ‘Father’s Day 2024!’ Father’s Day, which began as a largely religious observance and recognized in some way dating back to the Middle Ages, is now celebrated in more than 111 countries, with the first of its kind on June 19, 1910.

A traditional Roman Catholic holiday to celebrate fatherhood, Father’s Day is “celebrated on the third Sunday in June each year.” Fairly clearly, the day is meant to recall and recognize the endless efforts, initiatives and contributions of all the fathers around us. It is a mark of the kinship, affection, guidance and patience between fathers on the one hand and their families on the other.

Fathers are the heads of, and the role models for the(ir) families. Even in psychological explanations, it is the father figures who set the moral tones of households. Whenever irritants attempt to test the loyalty of the household, it is the father who risks everything with truly solidified violations to display manly attributes.

Etymologically, ‘husband’ also arose from the word ‘cultivate’, ‘tend’, or ‘nurture’. Therefore, the concept of husband refers to the ‘male head of a household’, the ‘manager’ and the ‘steward’. He is the ‘master of a house’, ‘occupier and tiller of the soil’. Thus, a husband is one who nurtures the wife with pious love, cultivates the wife and family, and tills the soil of the family.

Fathers are no little men. Of course, they are too big to be small. They have muscles in their places with which they not only perform feats of impressiveness but also create new, bigger and stronger foundations for their children. So, it’s only a marginalized group of men that can actually be referred to as irresponsible as most men are struggling. But we know that they can do better!

For quite some time, there has been a lot of negative portrayal of fathers and husbands. But what does an ideal father or husband look like? To begin with, the concept of father actually arises from the Almighty God as Creator. So, every human father is only a derivative, a copy and a limited expression of the ‘Olódùmarè’ (the Creator, Cause and Origin of all Things), ‘Baba wa tí mbe lí òrun’ (Our Father, who art in heaven), the One who’s so compassionate that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us.

In an article, ‘Appreciating a responsible father’, I described a father as “an important source of a child’s genetic makeup” and “his or her first teacher” and that “a father loves his child and provides for him or her as a precious jewel.” Since “children are a heritage from the Lord”, I wrote that “a good father prays for his children and engages them in deep, heart-to-heart conversations that impart more than facts, but teach wisdom.” Fathers are “expected to study and teach God’s Word to their children.” What’s more? “God blesses the children through their fathers.”

According to Wade Boggs, “anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad”. It is interesting to note that many people do have fond memories of their fathers – how their fathers loved, taught, even corrected identified misdemeanors so that they might live well. In remembering my father, Sunday Alaba Komolafe, who died on August 11, 2020 and was buried on September 11, 2020, comparisons are obvious. On a day like this, I remember my father as the one who “gave us (his children) partnership and protection” and as “a peacemaker whose life depicted concrete evidence of an organized future.” Close to 4 years after, I still find it difficult to accept that I have lost ‘Baba Kayode’, as my dad was fondly called, to the wild, wicked hands of death at 92! Well, it is well!

Of course, there have been many lame-brains who pretend to be fathers. But then, that does not mean that they are in the majority! Surely certainly, the drunken and the incestuous fathers, wife beaters and deadbeat fathers are in a small minority. Fish or cut bait, we are in a culture where fathers are supposed to be providers, and many people who go into marriage take that aspect of matrimony seriously. So, they will not just abandon those God-given responsibilities only to pursue a career in drinking.

Talking about the African patriarchal culture where some men act as if they own their wives, it must also be noted that the overwhelming majority of men are alive and accountable to their responsibilities. So, Father’s Day is a day to celebrate the ideal father! It is a day to also say that those who are irresponsible most probably came from dysfunctional families where they never had good role models and that they’re only transferring their wounds to the people they got married to or the children they gave birth to!

For their efforts, men need to be encouraged, especially at a time like this when the majority of our men are on the verge of social and mental collapse. In a country where hunger and deprivation are already busting the people’s asses, where the prevailing inflation rate is stifling and asphyxiating, and where many Nigerians are dead before their death, this is not the time to be excoriating or burlesquing fathers.

Yes, times are tough and things are hard! However, men should also avoid taking out their frustrations on their families because we are all in it together! Besides, it is in the nature of man to be persevering, courageous, “stay positive and look for solutions”, just as Caleb and Joshua did when they were asked to spy out the Land of Canaan. For men therefore, this is the time to make sacrifices which, in every possible way, are instinctual for the adult male. In a word, Father’s Day is meant to call for investment, training and retraining, forming and reforming of boys for the critical work of being fathers in the future.

In the past 20 to 30 years, there have been many programmes for the girl child. Actually, 90% of the Funding/Donor Agencies would always tell the world that their programmes were for the woman and/or the girl but there has been very little, if any, for the boy child and young men. We have Ministries of Women Affairs that focus on the woman and the girl child but none to cater for the needs of the boy child and/or young men. In the past, traditional societies also had progammes for initiating boys into adulthood. Lamentably, we’ve lost that and there’s nothing in place to replace it! A few workshops and youth programmes for the boys here and there but that’s not enough!

All said, it’s time well-meaning individuals, private organizations, corporate agencies and religious organizations started programmes aimed at transforming boys into men and young men into husbands, with all the accompanying values and virtues, if we do not want to have beasts and abusive husbands in the future. In a world that derives its oxygen from narcotics and human sacrifices and where brothers are afraid of becoming fathers for obvious reasons, the boy child needs something that will actually lead young men to grow into manhood.

Tragically, Nigeria is stagnated because there haven’t been father figures of the types that she had some 50 to 60 years ago. Is it any wonder why moral re-armament has become a scarce commodity in our clime?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, give us peace in our time!

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