Hi bAw family
In honour of Father’s Day this Sunday, I thought I would pen dreams and wishes that I believe some black African women (bAw) have for their fathers. The relationship between daughter and father in the African context has been a complex one, and I believe that if a young bAw could write a letter to her father it would read something like this:
I wish that you would freely express your love for me in words and in deeds. Although I know you love me because society says a father loves his child and because you pay my school fees or make sure I am fed, I need to hear this from you. Hearing and knowing that I am loved by you eases my anxiety to receive love from others.
I wish you would spend more on-one-on time with me where we just enjoy each other’s company and get to know one another better. Spending time together doesn’t necessarily mean that others must be there or that we must be running an errand. Being together literally means that. All we need is just the two of us. Being known by you will open me up to seeing myself more clearly because I know you will not lead me astray. And besides, I want to get to know all the different sides to you that others don’t get to see.
I wish that you could advise me on every aspect of life and not just school or career or finances. I want your words and counsel to be my directive when it comes to recognizing whether a potential suitor is the best for me. I want to be able to come and tell you what he did or what he’s saying so that you can warn me and protect me from the not-so-great guys that are out there these days. I don’t want to just speak to my friends or to Mum about it. I need a male perspective from the man I know would want my heart cherished.
I wish you could be strong enough to say sorry. To your wife. To your friends. To your family. To your colleagues. To yourself. To me. I know that you’ve been raised to believe that saying sorry is a sign of weakness but it is the best thing you could ever do for yourself and others. And making a mistake or hurting others is a part of life – we all do it. But very few people acknowledge it and own up. When you do that, it elevates people’s respect for you.
I wish you would seek out your emotional well-being a little more because when you are whole, it penetrates to your loved ones. I know that our African culture shuns any idea of talking your issues over, especially as a man, but even God states that we ought to carry each other’s burdens (Galations 6:2). No man is an island – as the saying goes. And it hurts me to know that there are some atrocious experiences and feelings that you carry alone that could be eased just by sharing.
I wish you believed that I harbour no ill-feelings towards you. Yes you may have hurt me and disappointed me before, but I have forgiven you. I recognize you are a sinner as much as anyone else is, and I entrust your life to God to be changed and moulded. So stop trying to deny it or cover it up like nothing happened. Seek to work through your struggles with your Saviour because I believe you are much more than your past or what think you are. Don’t do it for me or anyone else, but for yourself.
I wish that you could recognize how amazing a man you are. You are in the minority of men who stick around for their children regardless of how they may feel or what they have gone through. You work tirelessly from day to day to make sure there is always food on the table, three times a day, 7 days a week, all-year round. You carry the weight of that responsibility as though your life depended on it and I can see how you wish you could do so much more. That makes me love you all the more.
Finally, I wish you knew how much I respect and love you. Our culture doesn’t necessarily allow for the free expression of emotions with our fathers but I would freely tell you how much you mean to me. You are my King. You are my rock. You are my provider. You are my shield. You are my benchmark. I look up to you and always will so please don’t stop growing and becoming more of the man God created you to be.
What else would you add to this letter? What would you leave out?
Wishing all the fathers out there, and especially my own Papa Dubez, a very Happy Father’s Day!! We see you, we appreciate you, we love you. Our lives are lost without you.