Fatherhood undoubtedly is among the noblest callings in the universe.
It is an opportunity to nurture a child from infancy to adulthood, braving countless odds along the way and often with limited resources and experience to make it happen.
Yet, most of those to whom the honour of fatherhood is bestowed accomplish this arduous task successfully, after which they pass the mantle to their sons who then form the new generation of fathers.
Being a father calls for special competencies, many of which take time to fully develop. You do not just wake up one day and suddenly become a great dad.
A father is a manager, referee, coach, consultant, police officer, friend, teacher and many other personas all rolled into one.
As my grandfather once revealed to me, the skill set that makes up a great father is often taken from a father’s father.
Today is Father’s Day, which is a celebration of the important role that fathers play in our lives. Interestingly, there are people in our midst who have no idea that this day exists, and what it involves.
My madam had a challenging moment last Wednesday as she introduced our neighbour, Mama Deno, to the notion of a Father’s Day.
“Haiya, what is this day you are talking about? You mean there is a holiday in June?” Mama Deno asked after she heard Mama Jimmy wondering what to buy me this year. Last year, she had bought me a watch and a briefcase, and after careful consideration, she figured she would take her game a notch higher today.
I am yet to know what lies in store for me, but I strongly hope that she might have bought me a set of tires for the family chariot.
Anyway, I am not the choosy type, and I will happily welcome whatever she has for me. After all, it is the thought that counts.
“It’s called Father’s Day,” Mama Jimmy explained to her friend, who then wondered why she had not heard of the day before.
For some reason, most Kenyans may not easily identify this day, as it does not attract the fanfare that marks a typical holiday in Kenya.
Father’s Day is not a red letter day, and you do not see people trooping to places of worship on this day, and the president does not lead the nation in marking this day from some big stadium as happens with many other red letter days.
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My old man expressed a similar reaction when, on this day last year, I surprised him with a gift of several thousand shillings which was followed by a text message: “You’ve seen me laugh, and you’ve seen me cry/ And always you were there with me, I may not have always said it aloud, But thanks, and I love you. Have a happy Father’s Day.”
Last year, each of my children had a special treat for the man who brings home the unga.
And from what I recently overheard in one of my boys’ unguarded conversations with their mother, the children plan to surprise me even today. “Mum, daddy will remember this year’s celebration,” Jimmy told his mother on Thursday morning. “Tumetenga pesa kidogo ya kumnunulia zawadi moto moto.”
I am yet to know what the children have lined up for me, but among Jimmy’s suggestions was a drawn portrait of me, which the children plan to hang on the wall.
Last year, Jimmy bought me a tie using savings from his pocket money. Russell had pledged to wash my car every Sunday for the rest of his days under my roof, and although he forgot the promise after a few weeks, his gesture was much appreciated while it lasted.
The most memorable gift came from my daughter Tiffany, who had penned three lines of appreciation and love to her old man, informing me that I am the only hero in her life.
Whatever the case, I look forward to another memorable celebration with my family today. And to all my fellow fathers and father figures reading this, I wish you all a happy Father’s Day.