Adebayo Akande

Daddy Issues

by Adebayo Akande on

Written by Adebayo Akande

 

“My father left when I was just four years old”
“Our father does not want anything to do with us!”
“He would come home drunk, and beat us all up.”
“He would just sit and read newspaper all day, while mummy goes working to make ends meet.”
“When every other person was out, he would come to my room and force himself on me!”

Have you heard such testimonies as cited above before? If you haven’t, then you have probably not met up to ten Nigerian fathers, or you’ve been surrounded by the relatively few exceptional ones. For me, in this quarter of a century plus life of mine, I have seen, and heard, and to a lesser degree I have experienced my own fair share of daddy issues. In my opinion, people can only move on and at best create lots of great memories; seldom do people get over the effects of abusive, absentee, or irresponsible fathers. Just as we can trace a cholera outbreak to a germ infested pond, majority of the societal issues take root from the failure of fathers to live up to their billing.

Presently, I live among the Hausa folks – and in this particular place it appears the men live for just two things – smoked meat and sex! Very little else seem to matter. When they get tired of a merchant’s meat, they move on to another. Sadly, they do same with their women. The end result? Colonic issues, and kids – lots of them! No plan for their future, not even for their present. So these bairns bite the dust almost as soon as they open their mouths!

Now before you make a huge fixed deposit of anger against these folks, just imagine what your own society would look like if contraception was not being used? The main issue here isn’t about the organ between the man’s legs, but that behind his eyes and beneath his hair. Well, rumours have it sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the two, based on function. Men can choose which to think with!

While it is true that the responsibilities of the man are enormous, it is also amusing that respect is demanded even upon failure to live up to these responsibilities. Central to this malady is the erroneous view that a boy becomes a man, simply by staying alive long enough to develop muscles and a baritone voice; and the ability to sire children. While I am not in any way against women empowerment and liberation, the women movement to a large extent arose due to the ineptitude of men.
A father should provide for the basic needs of his family – food, shelter, emotional stability, a conducive physical and emotional environment for the family to thrive. Simply put, one without the other just would not work! Food and shelter, no matter how good, without a loving environment, is just as fatal as a home full of love, and also of empty stomachs. It is also of great concern that most fathers have created their own shoddy standards, a system of doing the barest minimum and boasting that they’ve “played their part”. When we see one that goes the extra mile for his family, providing all that is necessary, one is almost tempted to give him a Nobel prize!

I am not yet a father. So maybe it is easy to criticize people in whose shoes I have never been. But I’ve had a good feel of some other kind of shoes. Let me tell you a bit about these shoes.

They belong to women who had to single handedly raise children, simply because they wouldn’t abort the product of an act they got pressured into committing. They belong to the teenage girls who had to grow up watching their mother take up humiliating jobs while their father sat playing draughts with other fathers over a keg of palm wine; and then the mothers would return home tired, only to be insulted because food wasn’t prepared early enough. They belong to the boys and girls who had to be comforted, taught, encouraged solely by their mothers because all daddy cared about was good grades in school.

So you may not be a father just yet, but you can choose to be a good one, and that decision is a great place to start preparing.
“Happy Fathers’ day to all women who are working hard to raise their family singlehandedly.” This statement caused a stir on social media many weeks ago. There was outrage, of course from the men. We already had about three Mothers’ days, can’t we just have this single one to ourselves?
We can, we should, but not via this outrage.
We can, by determining to be there for our wives and children. Respecting them and loving them; believing in them and investing in them. I for one, love it (and sometimes envy) when people speak so highly of their fathers, and then I see men who “carry their family matter for head”. Equally disheartening are situations when the families of men I respect and would have considered as mentors turn out to be in shambles. These men go out to work so they could “put food on the table”, they do that, yet inadvertently starve the soul of their families.
Let’s abrogate daddy issues, shall we? How can we be better husbands and fathers? I would welcome our views and thoughts. Meanwhile, here are some of mine.
A family needs nurture, lots of affirmation, and communication. A major attribute to all these is selfishness. Majority, if not all children would say that all they need asides food is just daddy telling them “I love you, and I believe in you. You can be the best!” We should remix that song
“parents listen to your children;
we are the leaders of tomorrow.
Try to pay our school fees,
and give us sound education”.

The best schools won’t do as good a job as a loving father reassuring his kids. And claiming to love the children while maltreating their mother reeks of pure hypocrisy!
I know I have made things so black and white, so simplistic in this article. I can almost hear someone say “things aren’t always this straightforward”. But have you also thought that maybe being a great husband and father isn’t such a daunting task after all? That maybe all it requires is planning for that future with consideration for other people asides just you? That the solace of a happy family outranks any quest for personal glory? Or better still, your family is that personal glory?
We won’t always be perfect. We will make mistakes. But we have our society as a gallery, and our family as a canvas. With every stroke we make, every swish of our brush, we create a picture, our picture. And this picture will have a huge bearing on the entire gallery. After all, isn’t the family said to be the basic unit of the society?

Held

by Adebayo Akande on

Written by Adebayo Akande

 

 

The sky fell,
All was let loose from hell
In the mix of nimbus and hades
We stood, in the face of the clipper’s blades.

The world came crashing.
Thuds, bangs, booms, abounding.
Mares haunted dreams, aches taunted hope
Yet we clung on, like we had some strobe

Many times we questioned our minds
Were we dumb, had we left reason behind?
Who were we to think we’d live through this?
How in the world could we be at peace?

I believe we didn’t so much hold on, we were held!
By an arm so strong, to a love that melds and welds
And that heart still beats, with us, for us.
Life is worth living, because the greater one lives in us!

Why Easter?

by Adebayo Akande on

Written by Adebayo Akande

IS CHRIST REALLY THE REASON FOR THE SEASON?
I received a text message on my phone wishing me a happy Easter celebration and it ended thus “you’re the reason for the season.”
I dismissed the last statement as a typographical error, but again what could the sender have had in mind and then mis-spelt? I’m used to seeing “Jesus/Christ is the reason for the season”, I also send same to people during Christmas and Easter. That message was deliberate, and it got me disturbed. How can you remove Christ, and replace Him with me, as the reason for the season?
But I have come to learn that it is foolhardy to judge a matter or a person without taking time to critically examine the circumstances. So I set out to do some thinking.
The reason for a thing/event is the main purpose for which it had to happen. Think about some key events and experiences in your life and try to decipher the reason for some, if not all of them.
Now to the meat of the matter…
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, following his death on the cross, yes?
So then what/who would be the reason for Easter? The answer to this would be the reason He had to die and rise again.
Let’s see some scriptures:
Hebrews 2:9; “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Romans 5:8; “But God commended His love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 8:34: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. “

Romans 4:25: “Who was delivered for our offences, and raised for our justification.”

1 Cor 15:17: “If Christ be not raised, then your faith is in vain, and you are still in your sins.”

Most, if not all scriptures that talk about His death and resurrection are clear as to why-for sinners!
He died to take away all our sins. He rose up and declared us not guilty. All He did was for us. He did nothing for himself. Such love, what a savior!
So you and I, the church, are the reason for the season. Jesus Christ, at the centre of it all, remains the essence of the season.
He did it for us. He was born for us, He lived for us, He died for us. He is risen, and now sits at the Father’s right hand making intercession for who? For us!
This is the height of devotion. This is the ultimate love.

He is committed to us, more than we ever could to Him.

So this season, celebrate the risen Lord, who now lives in you, works through you, who loves you like you are the only one alive.

He is the essence; we are the reason for the season! Without Him, we are nothing! Without us, He needn’t have died.

Whatever happened to our fairytales

by Adebayo Akande on

Written by Adebayo Akande

WARNING: There’s probably no particular point or idea behind this piece, but I sense you will probably want to read to the end.

I don’t know what kids between the ages of six and twelve read these days, but I know, I recall what we did back then. Ladybird was a sensation then- Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow white and the seven dwarfs, the three little pigs, Beauty and the beast, and that one about the prince that became a frog (or was it the other way round?). Then there was Eze goes to School, wait, this one has no bearing on this article. Sorry.

The pith of all these books (except the one about Eze, or was it Akin?) was this “and they lived happily ever after…” personally I disliked stories written by Nigerian authors for not ending with that phrase. Then why did we have such gory stories from West Africa? Without a silver spoon, Passport of Mallam Ilia (like seriously, that’s a title?), Time changes Yesterday, etc where they just lived after, not necessarily happily.

Well, Ladybird, God bless her heart, left her mark on our hearts- a craving, the illusion of a fairytale. For me, it was that I would get into the university the very next Monday after my high school graduation, continue topping my class in college like I did all through secondary school (Now I sound like all our parents that were always first abi?), then upon graduation, there would be at least five establishments jostling to employ me, then on my first day at work I’ll meet her- she would have sparkling blue eyes (yes, red eyes are creepy), with long hair that travelled all the way to her chest, and moves like a tidal wave when blown by the wind, looking glamorous in a red gown; and then she smiles at me and then…fast forward three weeks, I’m on a speedboat with her in the Cancun Islands… okay I should stop now, (contact me though if you need script for Titanic Reloaded, this time the ship doesn’t sink.

You get my drift.

Somehow we had this picture of a fairytale…until life happened. I didn’t count on having to wait a whole year because the University I wanted didn’t like the way the months were arranged on their calendar. Couldn’t have seen it coming that a journey that was to last Five and a half years would eventually become seven years (in this time, ASUU became more popular than NTA). Ladybird never gave an inkling that I would have to wait almost a year to get a job, and then be thrown to a land where the sun always seems so angry for yet another year.

And as for the blue eyed damsel in red gown…let us just say black is the new blue, and it took a long twist of events to finally meet her. Funny thing is, she has her own-no, had her own fairytale too. At least if you never had a fairytale of your own, I know I’m not alone.

I have forgiven Ladybird, and I have apologized to Lantern (books). Or maybe not. Imagine some jokers made Cinderella into movies on about three different occasions!!!

But then, was it wrong, were we wrong to have that near perfect picture of how our lives would/should be?
Were we too naïve to believe we wouldn’t have to wait for anything, that the world was at our feet, that disappointment won’t come?
Were we in a fool’s paradise, a little world of our own, that heartbreaks won’t happen? But then even these books had some form of tragedy- Rapunzel was locked up, The prince lived a frog for so long (why can’t I remember the title!), Akin went to school (sorry, my bad again), but we looked beyond them to their happy endings!

And right there, is the point of this piece. The happy ending! The joy on a mother’s face as she beholds her newborn, completely forgetting the gamut of painful experiences that she hitherto had. The sense of excitement, and greater still, gratitude one has when a true soulmate is found after several attempts at love; the relief story that a fresh graduate has when he finally graduated after spending extra years in college; the glee on a farmer’s face when he finally brings in the sheaves following a major pest invasion of his farmland.

We can go through life looking forward to our own happy ending. As we grow and become mature, the plot of that fairytale may change, but not the happy ending. Eventually life would be a soap opera best tiltled “serendipity”, and as the episodes play out we learn that we are responsible for writing the script for the next one, so we can, we should choose to never lose track of happiness, because we deserve it.
And we really don’t want to raise kids who aren’t enthusiastic about living, do we?

International Women’s Day

by Adebayo Akande on

THE X-FACTOR

Written by Adebayo Akande
For a long time I questioned the women movements. I didn’t loathe it, just wasn’t particularly enamored with the idea. I reasoned “men also have problems. Why don’t we have ministry of Men affairs? Why aren’t we empowering the men? If women consider themselves to be equal, why fight so hard to prove it? Then if women are equal to men, why should the statement “treat her like a lady” still sting our ears?
Before you try to convict and blacklist me as a chauvinist, let me say that I know too well about the influence and power women wield that men don’t understand, my mother and sisters are testimonies. And a part of me feels a political movement isn’t necessary to prove this.
Or maybe it does. Maybe a revolution is needed to open the eyes of the world to what obtains in most, if not all third-world countries. I am presently working in one of the core northern states of Nigeria, and I can now relate with the plights of the girl child.

I was asked to give a career talk to secondary school students, and I was excited about this. I had given this talk a few times to similar groups down south, and I could see the glee, their chipper mien as I talked about Ben Carson, the Wright brothers, Wole Soyinka, Theresa May among others. It was a rousing speech, and it almost always ended this way- the students standing and clapping. And the school administrators would ask for an encore. So you can understand why I was looking forward to this particular one.
Let me just say this particular talk was a catastrophe. At least to me it was. I was terribly sad after the session. The students were happy, they asked questions, they seemed enthusiastic, but then they were grossly unprepared. Let me explain.

First, I had to speak to SS3 students through a translator! Yes, they would soon write SSCE and JAMB, yet they could hardly string a complete, meaningful sentence in English! My interpreter told me not to think too much of this, as those in the University are no better! And this wasn’t even the sad(dest) part.
The boys in the class wanted to be doctors, engineers, soldiers, pilots, scientists, lawyers and so on. It was easy to notice the girls weren’t talking. And this wasn’t due to shyness, at least not entirely. Now let me describe the classroom setup- the students sat on mats, the girls were huddled together against the wall at the back, and had to sit with knees folded, and as I would later learn, they were to keep mute.
I moved close to them and tried to force them to talk. One of them eventually obliged, and from her speech, it was clear that she was miles ahead of the class in terms of intelligence. I asked what she wanted to become in the future, and the next thing she said sent chills down my soul. “I’m betrothed already. I will be a housewife.” (Yes, she used the word betrothed)
I was speechless! I looked into the eyes of the other girls. What I termed shyness was now clear to me for what it really was- shame! I thought of my female colleagues, and I wondered what could have been of them if they had grown up in such conditions. I wondered how many potential surgeons, political scientists, were locked up in houses making babies; bringing life into the world yet dying on the inside.

I engaged some contemporaries, and I was told it was a mix of culture and religion. But I almost immediately found fault with this logic. Were the daughters of the custodians of this culture and religion subjected to similar treatment? No! Their own daughters are studying in tertiary institutions abroad. Are they above culture?

This article isn’t so much to whine, nor to rant. But the challenges of the twenty first century woman are real! Even for the “empowered women”. There are still pressures from society, expectations that fall in the continuum from unrealistic to outrightly bizarre. Both the illiterate woman locked up in some third world purdah and the brilliant female neurosurgeon has to cope with immense pressure on a daily basis. So while this piece has highlighted just a few of the denigration women face from society-and we shall discuss these and many more in subsequent posts-, the main purpose of this article is to do the least we can for the women in our lives-appreciate them!

So this goes out to the young girls who have been made to believe that all they matter for is their culinary or fecundation abilities, I pray one day, not too far away, this world would do right by you, and for your female children after you. That your dreams won’t remain just dreams, but there’ll be enabling environment where you can be you-gifted, brilliant, and creative.

To those who have suffered abuse in whatever form-physical, mental, emotional; that healing comes, and life becomes worth living once more. To the career women, those who have to bear the responsibility of training and catering for their families on their own, the world is better because of your sacrifice!

To those whose only crime was having more than one X chromosome, and who have to grapple with the harsh realities of fitting into a vicious society, and to those who have been robbed of their dreams; to the daughters, sisters, mothers who each day teach us that life is more colorful than the black and white we see, who remind us that being tender, considerate and loving are signs of strength not weakness; to the wives who give us the beauty of a smile, and manifest the miracle of bringing forth new life; to the amazing women who turn defeated men into warriors with words and care, I say you may never get to know just how powerful you are, and us men may never really realize the extent to which we need you, and the depths to which we appreciate you! We may not always compliment you, but we can’t deny the fact that you complement us! I say again, that maybe we don’t really understand the enormity of your strength, so it scares us. But then we must know and accept this fact- you were created different from us, but not inferior.

And especially today, as on all days, I celebrate the women in my life, and the woman of my life. If I manage to replicate in my daughter[s] what I’ve seen and learnt from you, I would consider myself a success!

Happy International Women’s Day 2017!

Sense of Wonder

by Adebayo Akande on

 

Written by Adebayo Akande
Last Christmas was like a distraction for me. Yes, I went to Church and exchanged messages (I actually felt I just had to reply incoming texts), I was just going to lie in bed all day. Then came a knock on my door, I felt like someone just wanted to ruin my day. I checked, and it was my neighbour, the housekeeper, with a plate of food and a drink. “Please manage this, it’s the best I could do….” I’m not sure I heard the rest of what he said. I was transfixed, not because someone gave me food, but that fifteen years seemed to fly through my mind in a split second. I collected the food, mumbled something that I hope sounded like thanks, and went back to my bed. Then the tears rolled down uncontrollably. Yes, for the first time in almost three years, I cried.

I remember as far back as when I was five. My siblings would make ugly cardboard chains and hang them up in our living room, and then we would arrange cards in and on every available space. Every single card just had to feature! Then mother would come home the day before Christmas with the latest additions to our wardrobe. I had an aunt, now of blessed memory, who would without fail bring me at least a native attire and groundnut from Kaduna.
On Christmas day proper, we would cook for the entire neighbourhood, and I had the unsavory task of chief distributor. I hated this task, especially when I had to take food to households where my crush lived-(be doing as if you too didn’t have crush when you were ten o). I got tipped for my efforts though; we were happy, it was Christmas, and we were family!

Fast forward fifteen to twenty years, and here I am. The one-time baby of the house, now in his own apartment, siblings scattered all over the country and the globe, about to spend Christmas just sleeping, because I have lots to do, a major journey coming up, money to make the next day; I was even going to take a locum job that night!

What has happened?

I know what you are thinking, I grew up! You’re probably right, but I think it is more than that, even worse.
That little boy has become so engrossed with life that he has lost his wonder! He lost interest in hanging the lights, giving food to the neighbours; he was saving the money he has for an upcoming journey, a couple of examinations, maybe an engagement ring too…winks.

Can you, dear reader, relate with this? What are the things you’ve outgrown? Did you once sing in a choir? Dance crazy with friends? Play video games all night? Rolled car tyres in your shorts?
But now you worry about meeting deadlines, working overtime to make more money, you question the rationale behind having to pay so much for cable TV-must we watch comedy central? Why go to the cinema, isn’t it the same movie I’ve got on my hard drive?

You are probably right. It is a hostile world out there, and for some of us, it’s like we were just dropped into the hot zone in a nuclear war. The transition from student life to being workers was a tad drastic and sudden.
But we are gradually becoming less and less happy and enthusiastic about life, and what is worse is, we hardly notice! Before you say “nah, that isn’t me” can you just tell me how you feel Sunday nights when the thought of another working week flashes through your mind? Exactly!
By virtue of my profession, I have been stressed, and I’ve seen beautiful sights. Top of the list is in the delivery room, two near indescribable looks: one of a baby staring into space, with eyes taking in their very first pictures, and that of a mother who was screaming in pain now beholding her newborn like the throbbing pain never happened. I hope one day I’ll find apt words to describe the latter.
But then few weeks on, the same woman would look stressed and sleep starved, and that wonderful look practically gone!

How can we keep our wonder, even when life happens?
I used to wonder why Jesus said “…unless you return to square one, and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again like this child, would rank high in God’s kingdom.” Matthew 18:3-4 Message translation.

I think I know now. A child can look at one picture, listen to one song a thousand times over and still be in awe. I used to carry my niece on my shoulder and run. She would be terrified, but immediately I put her down she would open her arms and request I carry her again.

I get bored eating. I wish there was a way I could be filled without having to waste time chewing. I feel it’s a waste of time if all you’re doing for ten minutes is just eating. So now I use that time to catch up on news, or some other things.

Well, let me attempt to bring this to a close, at least for now. Please don’t let the rigors of adulthood rob you of the life, the excitement you had as a child. While we must take charge and be responsible adults, we must also remember that part of that responsibility is to be happy, so we can build happy homes. We may be low on cash, but we shouldn’t be bereft of bliss. I know, the two go together, but that’s where we miss it again! I won’t sermonize much, but please don’t let us look back on our youth and wonder where the years went. Dance with your friends, sit in the open field and look at the sky. Buy kulikuli and cold water and close your eyes to remember how you used to love this as a five year old. Share, give, love, and live!

Let me stop here. Well, later that Christmas evening, I visited my parents, bought and shared gifts to neighbours, called childhood friends and spent hours reminiscing; then made a promise to myself and my future family that there will always be “merry” in our Christmas and indeed every other day of our lives.
May we never lose our sense of wonder!

Locum – a part-time job a doctor undertakes as an extra source of income
Kulikuli- a staple snack made from groundnut

THE Price

by Adebayo Akande on

UNDERSTAND THE PRICE

 

I always knew you to be strict and just

Punishing every wrong, chiding every disgust

I wanted to walk perfectly, keeping my feet from dust

Each time I puffed my holy balloon, it seemed to burst

 

The more I tried the harder I fell,

My story of holiness I failed to sell

My hurt and pain none I could tell

And with trepidation I awaited judgement bell

 

But I’m alive still not dead

They said it’s because for me you bled

That on my behalf your blood you shed

I still don’t understand all they claim you said;

 

That said, I’m saved and now forgiven all wrong

But I still feel so unworthy, like I’m smeared with dung

I still feel weak, though I know I should be strong,

It seems like this salvation won’t last so long!

 

But day by day as I study your word,

I see a friend and father, not just a lord,

I feel bound to you with so strong a cord,

Your love has changed me, lifting me from the mud!

 

I see your perfect sacrifice has redeemed me,

Once for all time I’m saved, now I clearly see.

It took your blood to purchase me from death

That was the ultimate price for my new birth.

A holy God has qualified sinful me, and in me now dwell

Now I understand the price, I know I’m blessed, favoured and loved, and all will be well!

 

 

AKANDE ADEBAYO

© 2016

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