Part 2: Appreciating Fathers
A True Story
on Jun 21, 2022
Last Sunday was Father's Day, a day to honor and celebrate the fathers who play a pivotal role in bringing up their children and catering for their needs. I am lucky to have had one such father who is still alive as I pen this story. Though I did not share with him a word of gratitude last Sunday, I can never thank him enough for all he has done for me so far.
As I have said before on this blog, my father is a humble, polite, diligent and worldly-wise man. While he is on the phone, I always have a rough idea on who he is talking to. He always sounds assertive when he is speaking to my siblings and close relatives. But when he is conversing with his business clients and elderly friends, he comes out as humble and polite.
Because of his humble nature, my father has never shared with me the story of his life. He prefers keeping things to himself. The little I know about his life is that he is the first-born in a family of four. His father - my grandfather - committed suicide when I was either unborn or a toddler.
I also know that my father once worked as a cook and used to travel to Uganda on work-related engagements. Then in 1972 while he was in his early 20s, luck smiled on him; he landed a job with East African Airways (now Kenya Airways). He must have sought the job because as a first-born child from a humble background, his immediate family was looking up to him for support.
In the 1980s when he was already married to my mother, my father studied for accounting exams and successfully qualified as an accountant. What I find impressive about that achievement is that he sat for his accounting exams while he was working and raising a family. It speaks so much about his diligent nature.
Some time in the 90s when I was a boy, I ransacked my father's cupboard and came across so many job rejection letters addressed to him. He had been denied employment by more than fifteen companies. The letters made me privy to how he struggled to get a better-paying job after he qualified as an accountant.
I surmise it was from his struggles to get a better-paying job that he had my siblings and I study hard at school. He offered us private tuition at home, mostly in writing and Mathematics. And he took an interest in our schoolwork right from when we were little.
One evening in 1993 for instance, he gave me a letter and instructed me to hand it to my nursery school teacher. When I turned up for school the following morning, I was fearful of approaching my teacher to give her the letter from my father. But during morning break time, I summoned the courage to hand the letter over to my teacher.
Guess what! Upon reading the letter, my teacher promoted me to Pre-Unit class when we converged back for studies after that morning break time. My promotion to Pre-Unit made me finish nursery school education in one year, instead of the usual two.
Although I never got to find out the contents of the letter that had me promoted to Pre-Unit class, I am sure my father did inform my teacher that I was bright enough to proceed to the next class. And I am wondering how different my life would have turned out had I not handed the letter over to my nursery teacher. I would, for example, not have joined Starehe Boys' Centre in 2002 for my high school education.
Ever the caring gentleman, my father continued taking a keen interest in my progress at school. I will never forget the night in 1994 when he demanded to review the exercise books I used in school. His demand unnerved me since I hadn't been taking my schoolwork seriously. Thankfully, I can't recall him scolding me for any shoddy work.
My beloved reader, fathers do make an enormous difference in the upbringing of children as my life demonstrates. Not only do they meet their children's needs, they also instill them with valuable traits. So if you are fortunate enough to have your father alive today, I exhort you to appreciate him by sending him a gift or a word of encouragement. Belated happy Father's Day!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this part 2 story on appreciating fathers, you might also enjoy part 1 of the story which I wrote two years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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How I Was Brought Up
A True Story
on Jun 16, 2022
As I have narrated before on this blog, I grew up in a family of five sons. I happen to be the fourth-born. All my brothers are now married with children. My eldest brothers Joe Kagigite and Bob Njinju have three kids each, Paddy has two while Symo, the last-born, has one. I am the only one who is single. And I seem not to be in a hurry to get married.
I have come to envy the way my brothers are bringing up their children in a loving and caring manner. Joe's children are suave, bouncy and talkative. A while back when they visited us on a Sunday afternoon, I allowed them into my room. And yikes! They became rambunctious as they demanded to play my piano keyboard, draw with my highlighters and see what books I was reading.
While Bob's children are not as bouncy as Joe's, they are also suave. About two months ago when they came to stay with us for one week, they operated our smart-TV with an aplomb I wouldn't have matched at their age. And when they complained that they disliked eating githeri, Mum had rice cooked for them.
At the end of their one week stay with us, their father - my brother Bob - came for them in his white Toyota probox. As Bob was driving into our compound, I heard his youngest daughter shouting happily, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" The impression I had from that shouting was that Bob is a doting father.
Paddy is also a doting father given the way he regularly puts his son through to converse with my parents on phone. Young as his son is, he speaks in impeccable English. There was a time he informed Mum that he was cooking peanut butter cake, something Mum never tired of boasting to her friends.
My younger brother Symo seems to be following in my brothers' footsteps of being a doting father. About two weeks ago, he brought his nine-month old daughter to see her grandparents. During the visit, the daughter sat on Mum's sofa, obviously too young to appreciate how lucky she was to be surrounded by a loving family.
Perhaps the reason why I am envious of the way my brothers' children are being brought up in a loving and caring manner is because it is a sharp contrast to the way I was brought up. Believe you me, I was often criticized and sometimes lashed when I was growing up in '90s. It was like I was subjected to criticism as soon as I was old enough to remember things.
I recall, for instance, a time in 1993 or 1994 when I took sweets from Mum's shop without her consent. Some of my brothers got wind of the mischief from a friend with whom I shared the sweets. And wa! They used the mischief to blackmail me. Whenever I refused to do something, they would threaten to report me to Mum. For several months, I lived in constant fear of Mum finding out what I had done. And Mum was never one to spare the rod when disciplining me.
Yes, I was often criticized and lashed when I was growing up in the 90s. Whenever I did something wrong, I would dread how the senior members of my family would react to my wrongdoing when they came back home in the evening. On a number of times, I did find myself at the receiving end of their scathing rebukes.
Given the manner in which my family members were tough on me, I wonder how they would have reacted if I had complained that I disliked eating githeri - the way Bob's kids did when they stayed with us about two months ago. I am sure they would have sneered at me, and dismissed me as a softie and a pretender.
Such was the kind of upbringing I had. And it explains why I grew up to be quite timid. Even in my adulthood, I struggled to put on a brave front and stand up for myself. I also found it difficult to say "no" to people. Though it is easier to raise strong children than to repair broken men, I have partly succeeded in overcoming my suppressed childhood. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on how I was brought up, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few years ago on "How I Grew Up With My Siblings". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.