Onomarie Writes Tribute to Her Father on the Anniversary of His Passing

unnamed-8My father had a car when I was a child. It was black; a Volkswagen Beetle, and totally bad-ass. I remember being fascinated by a contraption in it that winked with blue, green, red and yellow lights every time music played on the radio. Now I know that those were woofers. I remember always hearing my father first, before I saw him; or more accurately, the music – as he drove into our small close in Navy Town. He was always playing music. The Commodores, Shalamar, Barry White, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Lionel Ritchie and others. He collected music much the same way he collected books – with reckless, and almost fanatical abandon. He had music in every form – cassettes that he would label “Mixed Grill 01”, “Dero’s JZ 34”, “Motown Mix 02”, and other strange tags, that only he could understand. He had Vinyl records – large collections made up of Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Bebe King, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. He also had Fela, Bob Marley, Mike Okri, Shina Peters Michael Franks and Kollington Ayinla. He had very esoteric taste in music.

As a child, I used to think my father was a bit strange. He wore a black signet ring on his right middle finger, and would occasionally smoke the pipe and drink Brigadier’s brandy early in the morning. He would sometimes ask me and my brother to take a sip from his glass: “drink nor dey kill pikin”, he would say to my mother when she complained. In his mind, as Isoko children, we had to learn to hold our liquor. He smelled of tobacco, drank brandy early in the morning, and I loved him fiercely.

Every Saturday, dressed in grease-smudged overalls, he would religiously “service” the Beetle; tinkering with only-God knows what, beneath the engine of the car. He would take short breaks smoking his St. Moritz cigarettes and drinking his favourite Guinness stout (the small ones), straight from the bottle. He hated the big stout bottles. I would loiter quietly around him, observing quietly how he seemed content, and almost joyful doing this complicated messy thing. Without saying anything, we both knew that I used these times as a means of trying to escape from Saturday morning chores, or the excruciatingly stressful task of me helping my mom fry akara; but neither of us would mention it. We were often comfortable just being in each other’s company – silent, without needing to speak. But I learned a great lesson from my father, with the way he pampered and cared for that Beetle. It’s not what you get in life that matters, it’s what you do with it; how you take care of, and nurture it.

Sometimes, he would ask my older brother and me to follow him to the Squash court, just near the Sailing club, so we could watch him play squash. He would allow us sit on high stools at the bar, drinking as many bottles of Fanta as we liked, and eating as many bowls of groundnut and suya as we could possibly manage. His own was: “don’t just vomit when you get home.” The underlying message being: “If una mama catch una, I no dey inside.” That was my father for you, exceedingly liberal and accommodating, but also ready to make you face your mistakes or the consequences of your actions. He didn’t badger or harass us (yes momma, that’s shade for you. *Hahaha*), and he wasn’t a distracted father either; he was just very chilled out.


As I grew older, I began to see my father less and less; he was in the military and was posted out quite frequently. But my mother tried her best to ensure we saw him often; so we made trips during our school holidays, in those famous Peugeot J5s to see him in NDA, Kaduna, or via Bendel Line, the times he was in Port Harcourt. If it was really difficult for me as a child, I can imagine, how it was for my mum, being a military wife. But he always made up for it somehow, whether it involved coming home just for the weekend (without official permission), or writing us individual letters – we always knew, and felt that my father loved and missed us.

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. Not a perfect husband or a perfect father. This was a shock to me – an acclaimed “daddy-can-do-no-wrong-girl.” As I grew from my teenage years, into my early twenties, we began to clash more on any and everything – boys, makeup, school, curfew, my sharp mouth and “rude behaviour” (his words, not mine). We went on for a period of two years; without speaking – those were tough, difficult years for me (and as I would find out later, for him as well). But thankfully, we mended fences and built a stronger, meaningful, more respectful relationship. I learned also, that sometimes, especially for those we love, it is important we disagree with aspects of their lives and certain decisions that they take. It is important to state what you disagree with and why. It will cause temporary hurt, but it will yield mutual respect, and build better human beings. Because of my father, I am not afraid of conflict – it has its good uses.

Today is the first anniversary of my father’s death – he passed away last year from a car accident. It was hard, still is excruciatingly hard, that sometimes I want to howl in rage from the grief. But I am here, living, breathing, and learning to thrive, and must keep upholding his priceless, invaluable legacy.

There are many things I learned from my father – from the way he lived his life; enjoying the things he liked to do, being content with what he had, accepting and enjoying his eccentricities, not being pressured to conform or “feel-among”, and having such a large heart. Those are the things that have become important to me, the things that have set the tone for what I do with the rest of my days.

Happy 2016 people; if you’re not living life intentionally and purposefully, then please start doing so, nothing in this life is promised.

15 Comments on Onomarie Writes Tribute to Her Father on the Anniversary of His Passing
  • cos i say so January 2, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    you just made me like your father… lol
    i lost my brother two years ago and sometimes i swear i can see hear him or hear him,its comforting sometimes and most times its scary
    The pain will probably always be there but be rest assured it will dull in time
    Heres a big fat holdmetight dontletgo howlallyouwantonmyshoulder bigbrownbear hug from me
    Better days ahead

  • Isi Esene January 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    May his soul rest in peace.

  • ayosese January 2, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    God bless your Dad’s soul. Beautiful words.

  • kiki January 2, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    One year already? Bless Girl! May his memory be for a blessing….always

  • Lateefah January 2, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Great attribute to a wonderful dad! He was the first man in Onomarie’so life and you will forever miss him. Thank God for those wonderful memories. I lost my dad 20 years ago & I still miss him everyday!

  • Honeycrown January 2, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing memories of your father. Your write up was also very engaging. May his soul continue to RIP. I lost my dad before I was 10 and it always made me sad. Before I turned 21, I often wished I knew him and wondered how I would have turned out and which of his character traits I would have inherited. I have since made peace with that or I thought till I read your story. I don’t have much memories of him except for those I overhear when my brothers are talking. I remember very well though that he was an unusual African man. While his friends all drove luxury cars and had drivers, he did none of that. He was extremely quiet, always sat with his legs crossed, read a lot and kept a library full of German and Chuchill books and he drove a Suzuki Jeep. The Suzuki is the most vivid of my memory because I was always scared of riding in it with the canvas/soft top that stayed down except if it was raining. One day when I’m ready to deal with the past, I will buy a jeep. Same color as his with a canvas top so I can drive with the top down and let my weave blow in the wind. Maybe then I will feel connected to him and bring closure to all the memories and sadness of not having a dad while growing up.

  • ife love January 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Hey! Francesca’s words made it seem like I met her dad. He sure birthed a warm and vibrant lady with love and support aplenty in her heart. I’m glad I met you Fran.

  • tamunotonye January 2, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    May his soul continue to rest..

  • NIL January 2, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    This was so so beautiful. Your dad will always be proud of you.
    P.S….Are you by any chance related to Ogaga Uriri?

  • Ufuoma January 3, 2016 at 1:19 am

    So sorry for your loss oniovo me, hang on to the memories you have of him and remember it’s okay to cry whenever the loss gets overwhelming. Blessings to you.

  • Tee January 3, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Nice write up.I was close to losing my dad in November and that minute,my world was already turning dark.I thank God he’s alive today and dat taught me never to take any of my loved ones for granted.I always appreciate tributes like this cos it makes me realise how important our parents are and to remind me that they’ll not be here forever.
    May his soul RIP and may God give u the grace and strength to carry on.

  • Anonymous January 3, 2016 at 9:14 am

    May his soul rest in peace. I lost my uncle some years ago. I didn’t grow up with my parents. My uncle was like a father and a mother to me, even though my parents were there for me. I loved him so much and still do. Whenever I think about him I’m always joyful. My happiness is as a result of his presence in my life while he was on earth. I miss him alot and thank God for bringing him my way. If i could turn back the hands of time, i would erase the day he died from every calendar, and maybe he would be alive today. But I thank God for the life he lived.

  • Ese January 3, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Onomzy dear your dad will be so proud of you. As in your strength in this time amazes me. my waffi sister of life nice one as usua

  • poor me January 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    You guys who grew up with your dads and have such wonderful memories to remember are so lucky. You don’t know what you have. I didn’t grow up with my father, don’t have many memories together. Unless his slashing my list when I presented them when I was a student or his cursing out my mom saying she spoilt me. I’m learning to rise above these, but you can understand why it’s saddens and irks me so badly when I hear women talking about divorcing their husbands so carelessly not even thinking about the child(ren) involved. Or when I hear about women deliberately choosing to be single mothers because according to them, men are useless. Are u even thinking that your children would rather have mommy and daddy and not just mommy and uncles? Have u thought about the fact that every child deserves that stability and security fathers bring especially the girl child. Sorry about my epistle but articles like this reminds me of something il never have and will do my best to make my kids have.

    • mama January 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      sorry about your case but some children are better off without daddy’s present in the home..while i agree some women are self centered it is just a few..why would a woman live with an abusive man who belittles her and make her life miserable cos of her children? i agree couples must do their best to make a marriage work but a mother is first human too and believe me i have met people who wished their parents were not together than the emotional and lasting pain of watching their mothers treated like a rag….no woman should stay in an unhappy home and made to sacrifice her happiness for her children while the man lives his life anyhow and subject her to all kinds of abuse…why must the burden of building the home always rest on the woman? children will grow up and leave …anyway like the say the grass always looks greener on the other side

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