For the special Father’s Day Edition, Business Day has Co-Founder/Executive Director of Sahara Group, Tonye Cole and his children pose on the front cover of Off-Duty.
In the issue he talks about what fatherhood, what it means to him and his children lovingly describe him as inspiration to them.
Here’s what he had to say to Off-Duty Magazine:
On his View of Father’s Day
The concept in itself is something that is strangely viewed in our cultural heritage. Fatherhood, for so long has been viewed as one of those things that happens when you get to a certain age and not something to be specially celebrated. My generation grew up not knowing what ‘Father’s Day’ was and indeed saw fathers as a figure to be wary of. They paid the bills but brokered no nonsense. They walked in majestically and everyone scampered into the shadows of the home. They ruled the home with a force of their manhood that left little room for argument. Much of this has changed today, brought about more by the children of our days who have imbibed the culture of the times and are much more engaging with their fathers than we were with ours. Through their eyes and their open hearts, I have come to appreciate the significance of having a symbolic day when the role the father plays in the lives of the children is recognised and appreciated.
On his Father’s influence over his life
My father’s greatest gift to me in life is bequeathing me with the integrity of a good name. As a child growing up, it wasn’t clear to me the importance of not doing anything that would destroy the integrity of one’s name but this was extremely vital to my father. He carried himself with an air authority such that whenever he entered a room, there was no doubt in the space that somebody with aura had walked in, yet he never did so with any iota of pride nor did he rub it in the faces of those present. There was just something about his carriage that lent itself to commanding respect from his superiors, peers and subordinates alike. As I began to grow into the man I was shaping to be and started understanding the gravity of how scarce resource integrity is in our nation, especially amongst those who have held public office and operated in the higher echelons of power, I came to deeply appreciate the sacrifice made by my father to stay unblemished.
On carving out time for family
A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to ensure every holiday was spent together as a family. We bond by doing stuff together, especially things that require we confront our fears and overcome them. So we would encourage each other to go on the craziest roller coasters, the wildest rides and the steepest water slides discovering along the way that doing so as a family, we help each other to more than we would individually. Today, they are mostly adults and able to make their choices on what to do with their holidays but the bond of family time instituted through the years remain so strong we still opt to strengthen our bonds during these seasons.
On what every father must know
I would say it becomes obvious pretty quickly that being a father is very different from fathering a child. Fathers must learn to be accessible to their children and give them the comfort and confidence to see their father as a friend and a mentor. The greatest feeling of fatherhood comes when your child, male or female, is able to come to you to discuss an issue of profound importance to them they ordinarily would not have done. A boyfriend question from your daughter, an uncertainty of choice between conflicting emotions for a girlfriend from a son.
To his children on Father’s Day
I love them. I want each of them, TJ, Vanessa and Serena to know they have each surpassed by far who I was at their age and there is no better prayer a father can have than his children become greater than he is. It is vital they know I am a better man because of who they have become and they challenge me to consistently improve on myself, time and time again.
His children also had some loving words for him:
My father Tonye Cole is an amazing man. Growing up I was always considered a mummy’s boy but my Dad and I have always had a special relationship, which has grown stronger over the years. My Dad is my mentor, my role model and my best friend. He is the man I can always go to for honest advice and if I am in any trouble.
Apart from his level headedness and wisdom, my Dad is also an extremely caring man. This is evident when he enters a room and greets everyone like an old friend. This is one of the many things that makes him a special person and an amazing father. I admire him so much for his empathy and his kind hearted nature. For a man that is so busy, he always makes time for his family, which is another thing I admire. From phone calls, to emails and even hand written letters, we are always in touch no matter what part of the globe we find ourselves.
This Father’s Day I would like to thank my Dad for always being there to support me, for helping me get to the place I am today. I know I could never have done it without him or with any other man as my father. He is the best father a son could ask for and the best man I know. I hope to be able to repay him through my own achievements to make him as proud of me as I am of him. Have a great Father’s Day Dad! See you soon.
My relationship with my father is something that has grown over the years and continues further as our bond intensifies. I also like to consider myself as the daddy’s girl. Being away from him for some time during my childhood, I have learnt not to waste my time when it comes to opening up to him. Having my dad as a public figure, I have grown up having many people come up to me to express how much they admire him, and also how much of a compassionate spirit he has.
At first, as a child, I was envious concerning sharing my dad with other people, however I have learnt to appreciate that my dad keeps a part of himself for just those close to him. Understanding this, I forget about this feeling and appreciate the time and effort he puts to spending quality time with me and my siblings.
On the subject of weddings, my dad has told me I must get married by 23. Yes, 23! You heard right… it was originally 22 but we negotiated…lol! I like to take this as a joke because on the low, I can’t imagine him waiting for the day for his little princess to move on, however I like to think he can’t wait for the family events such as these that will take his emotions to a new level.
My dad is a driven inspiration to many. But most importantly, he is God-loving and ready to share his walk with Christ to those who want to hear it. I hope to walk alongside him and fill the expectations he has for me. Happy Fathers Day Daddy, Love you unconditionally!
My father has always played a special part in my life: from helping me through my many troubles to being a role model of success in religion, family and business.
He is a wise man who would often lay important advice on us as children to help guide us through the dangers of life. I would probably call myself overly sensitive and whenever I would go to him with a problem, I would find a loving father ready with an anecdote to make me feel better.
As a result of having him as a father, my life has been enlightened and I have had experiences beyond compare. What I would like to say to him on this special day is: “You have always looked out for me, I am forever grateful and I will always love you for being such a good father to me.
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