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Frances Okoro: Tales From Mr Okoro

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Frances OkoroMy friend Mobolaji Olorisade recently released her first book titled “Letters To Our Fathers” and reading the book took me on a long stroll down memory lane.

The book comprises of ten letters from ten girls to their fathers.
Some with fathers who had been really harsh to them when they were young…
Some with fathers who had never been there for them – too busy to attend to their needs but never too busy for work…
Some with fathers who they never had a personal conversation with… with their childhood characterized with running away when Daddy comes back from work and sadly, adulthood not being any different.

Reading her book made me think long and hard about my own dad – Mr Isaiah Elohor Okoro.
If I were to write a letter to my dad, what would it contain?

I think I would start from the early days with him…
We are five children in my family – five children from one father and mother.
My dad and mom were divorced when I was 9/10 years old and as the first girl, responsibility kind of fell on me to be the mini mother of the home.

I remember days of bathing my younger sister – the last child in our home who was 2/3years old at the time.
I would brush her teeth and bathe her and of course be totally annoyed at her cries.

My parents divorced when I just gained admission into Secondary school and so the responsibility to train me as a girl/woman fell on my dad.
And I dare say that he did a good job of it (as much as he could)… not too many dads I know would do what my dad did for me.

I remember days of my dad taking my laundry during my holidays and asking me to watch him as he washed my clothes.
He would take my towel, wash it, and tell me to watch him as he did so, so I could learn from him.

I remember days of him cooking egusi soup while asking me to stand and watch ohhh.

He would cook and serve breakfast for my siblings before they go to school and also pack their lunch and leave it on the dinning table for them to eat when they come back from school.

I remember when I first started going to the market.
At first, we (my elder brother and I) went with my dad and he showed us his customers – madam meat, madam egusi, pepper, etc.
And then after a while, he would write the list for I and my brother to go to the market alone.

Ah, I lost money during those period oh. And even when I thought that my dad would beat me or something after I lost cash, he would just give me another money to go back to the same market to get foodstuffs. Looking back now I realize that he could not have beaten me because he knew that he was simply training me and I was just a little girl.

My dad refused to get married for the 14 years he and my mom were divorced just for the simple reason that he didn’t want anyone to maltreat us.

I remember one woman who was drawing close to my dad then and my dad called us to the parlor to ask us what we thought, that he would go ahead with what our decision was and we all said NO! And he went with our decision.

My neighbors used to wonder if my dad was my younger sister’s brother or father. They did everything together!

My dad used to rear chickens then and he and my sister would go to the cages and feed the chickens while gisting and laughing.

My dad was totally against children running to the room when he came back from work. He would call us all into the parlor and start gisting with us. He would call me to the parlor to come and watch Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and tell me all about her. Who she is and how he sees me being like that too.
He would call me in to watch Nike Adeyemi’s programme at schools and we would just sit and discuss.

I know that I got this my sharp tongue from my dad.
He always had a thrill from getting us – my elder brother and I to argue with him.
We would argue and argue with everyone saying a piece of their mind. Our living room used to be hot then!

I remember when I used to put too much salt in our meals, my dad would eat it without complaining, then later, while gisting, he would slide in the fact that the salt was a bit too much.

I never grew up in fear of my dad.
He did everything he could to draw us close.
In fact, I even knew when my dad earned his salary. I knew his benefits and retirement plan and cash accruing to him. I used to wonder why he would trust me that much.

The only time I was in fear of my dad was the stint during my university years with the boyfriend and abortion deal.
I couldn’t imagine letting my dad down.

I have had fall-ins with my dad… we quarrel and argue. We fight and I cry and report him to God…
But when I do get a chance to stroll down memory lane, I admit that I had a dad like no other.

I knew that my dad wasn’t all there financially; I didn’t grow up in a home of affluence but I knew that my dad would use his last penny for our education and well being if need be.
He would forfeit clothes, and wear just one shirt if he had to do that just to provide for us. We would all see when his salary came in and how he would divide it for all of us with just fuel money going to himself.
My dad never ever held back from us – he was indeed a provider.

He had his flaws and still has his flaws.
For one thing, I don’t think I have ever heard him say ‘I am sorry”.
Ah, there was one time when I was really young and I think the stove was bad and I couldn’t fix it. I waited for my dad to come back from work to fix it and he was angry when he came, asking me if “that’s what I will do in my husband’s house”.
But he fixed it and I cooked afterwards.

But I was mad at him for shouting at me.
He ate the food, knew I was mad at him and instead of apologizing, came to the parlor to say “but Rukevwe, the food sweet oh….”

Ah, my daddy.

My classmates at my Secondary School used to wonder if I was the last child anytime my dad came to visit me because I would cling and cling to him.
I had amazing times and still have amazing times with my dad anytime I go home.
He still pumps me up to reach for more and I know the path God seems to be leading me on has not been easy for him to accept.
But I know that he loves me and desires the best for me.

My dad’s experience with us was shaped by his own experience with his parents. He lived with an aunt and did not grow up with his parents but he wanted us to be in a loving atmosphere with our own parents.
For one thing, he and my mom agreed that there would be no “sir and ma” in their home.
He decided to give us education and to the best of his ability, wanted to provide the very best for us.
Be that best “bend down select” or not, I knew that most times, he drained his paycheck just to be able to say “I have sent you the money”.

He went so far as to not even have a house help in the home, all because of the fear of us being maltreated.
He took on the role of mom and dad and tried to fill in both spaces.
The woman I am today has stemmed from him.
My dad has never shut me down for once. My opinion – our opinion were all valid to him.
And so, he set the foundation for me being the outspoken woman I am today – one who knows that she wasn’t made to cower to any man. We are all to be respected individuals in our own regard.

My dad…
Not without fault…
But my dad all the same.

And the tales from His life are tales that have shaped my own tales.

Mobolaji, my friend whose book spurred this stroll down memory lane is one book I believe every father/father-to-be should read.

A lot of tales from fathers have served to do nothing more than act as a factor that has broken the smooth tales of their own children.

It is said that children who delve into questionable activities do so because they have a void in their lives – a void that the father is supposed to fill.

Society have always elevated the role of the mother above that of the dad but the role of the father is as important as that of the mother – even much more so.

The role of fathers have been so relegated to the background, fathers do not even know that their children get their sense of identity from them.

They play a very key role in a child’s life. Just as we gain our identity from our heavenly father, so also are children wired to gain their first identity from their fathers.
And where this is missing in a child’s life, the child looks for any way to look for his/her identity – including looking for it in all the wrong places.

If you are a father/father to-be, I encourage you to stop for a minute and think of what your daughter would say if she had to write a letter to you.

Have you done a good enough job so far?
There is still time to turn things around.

Don’t be like my dad that says the soup is sweet when you should say “I am sorry” (I kid).
Instead, if you find any loophole in yourself, say you are sorry to your children, repent and ask God for help in being a better father.

And what about you?
Do you have any tales to tell from your dad?
I would love to hear from you.
Comment below and lets laugh together or find healing together as the case maybe.

Hephzibah Frances is a child of God and a delight to her Father's heart. She is a Lawyer, author and social entrepreneur called to the nations.She is the founder of The Women At The Well a Christian women ministry based in Lagos.andAwakening Youthful Seeds For Christ Initiative a Non-Governmental Organisation focused on raising purposeful youths.She is currently the author of four books including the best-selling book PRAYERS FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND. Get all her books here here And get her latest fiction book - "ENIOLA" for abused womenhereWanna know what to do while you are single? Join the "21 DAYS PRAYERS FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND PRAISE AND PRAYER CHALLENGE GOING ON RIGHT NOW! "here Join up the challenge on her Instagram channel @HephzibahFrancesEmail her at [email protected] in touch with her: On Facebook: HephzibahFrancesOn twitter @Hephzibahfran/On instagram @hephzibahfrancesWatch her videos on her Youtube Channel at - FrancesOkoroVisit her website at www.hephzibahfrances.com

25 Comments

  1. UNCLE GWE GWE GWE

    November 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Since I was born ” I have NEVER seen anyone say how evil/bad their parents are.” Only an outsider can say how great/ good your parent are. I AM TIRED OF ALL THESE MY MUMMY THIS AND MY DADDY THIS.!!!!!!!?

  2. Manny

    November 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Lovely write-up Frances. I remember that you wrote something similar for your mum once. It’s great that you can look beyond your father’s flaws to highlight the positives.
    Thank God for fathers that encourage their female child. My sisters and I have doctorate degrees because of my dad. He would make us girls read up on influential and educated women. I don’t have a sense of being limited as a female because of my dad.
    I remember a female relative who was chased out by her husband coming to our house to ask for money to rent a place. After she left, my dad sat us down and said that’s what happens when a woman does not have her own resources. My mum has property in her own name because of him. He made sure he collected money from her to buy the land, collected money from her to give to the contractors. My mum once said he said “if I die and any relative shows up to do nonsense, won’t you have your own property?”. I said why not give her property as a gift. She said he said if I use my money, I can still shakara you. My parents have always had a joint bank account as well as separate accounts. These are people in their 70s which is why it baffles me when some women in this 2016 have only a joint account. Or hide the fact that they have a personal account.. Who are the men that think it’s an anomaly for their wives to have a separate account.
    Funny enough my father was contradictory. The things he got away with doing to my mum, he expected us not to take from any man. The irony of it.
    I’m beginning to write a whole article of my own so I’m just gonna stop now 🙂 🙂
    #thankfulformyfather

  3. UNCLE GWE GWE GWE

    November 30, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Dear Father, If I set my eyes on you. I WILL BURN YOU TO ASHES. I promise.?

    • Otinkpu

      December 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      Wow…this is serious.

  4. zee

    November 30, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Wao..lovely story. My dad wasn’t much present in my life…and for a moment, I tot it was ideal…but certain events in my life has opened my eyes to the gapping void that had existed because of a real father figure. It feels me with worry soo much that I fear for my daughter on how they can cope if for some reason her dad can’t be there for her! Believe me when I say your dad scores a whopping 85% on my score board..I envy.

  5. zee

    November 30, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    *because of lack of a real father figure.

  6. chijioke

    November 30, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Ahhh!! It actually took me down memory lane..tho he’s late since 2009..he loves education,he always told us den dat he was denied education cos of d civil war,4 dat reason,he’s gonna make sure we’r educated..A disciplinarian&intelligent..I Remember wen I gained admission into uni-port(2005)I wasn’t arnd&u asked my lil sister to call me..wen I opened our gate…I saw u dancing..dat got me teary eyed..I owe my being a graduate 2day to u cos u took up d role of a mother as well(she passed on 2000)..u had ur flaws too tho,however,ur good aspects overshadows dem all..d reason y I like olivier d-coke,osadebe&oriental broda’s musics was cos of u..truly..we’r an identity of our dad..unconsciously I imbibed those music even tho I wonder y u like it so much..lol..my unborn children&wife..I promise am gonna b a beta dad to u..

  7. sabina

    November 30, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Interesting read. My Dad remains my hero but he was strict. I thought all fathers were strict while growing up, until I saw other Dads that were way too gentle and smiley dovey with their kids
    Not that I blame him, his generation was quite a strict one. They said ‘I love you’ by paying school fees & providing needs. That to them, is enough prooof of love. Their generation is why naija men are considered unromantic. Life shouldn’t be too serious
    But in a way its always good to have a ‘strict’ parent and a ‘petting’ one, just for balance
    To me, it’s a cold wicked world, why complicate matters by making kids afraid of you
    Home should be where they feel most safe and most free
    Being too strict in these crazy times is dangerous

  8. Busola I

    November 30, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Lovely article. Your dad raised awesome kids and I pray he lives very long to reap all he has sown.

  9. Marlvina

    November 30, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Very lovely write up. I enjoyed every paragraph. As I read, thoughts flooded my mind of my dad. He’s still playing that great, passionate fatherly role towards us. Even as grown as we are, he still brings us even closer. My dad still calls me baby, Lol even in this old age of mine. A friend heard it one day and she was stunned. “Did your dad just call you baby”, she asked? I cldn’t help but laugh at her reaction. Lord, I’m grateful for my dear father, who has brought me up to love you so dearly, from my tender years, He constantly made it clear to us how we could be successful in life, by embracing God in all we do. He showed a great example and today, we are living testimonies. He’s so devoted, a disciplinarian, hilarious, gentle, storyteller and very accommodating. Dear God, continue blessing him; long life and good health be his portion. Amen!

  10. LEM

    November 30, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    I love my dad but the man was stricttttt! Ah! When I remember what I passed through with him eh (shakes head) he was one of those dads whom once we hear his car we run to our room. Who dash you liver to talkback/argue with him? Then let this man catch you with any person wether boy or girl whose parents he does not know o boy you must have full biography of that person o. Hey now I understand why he was like that and I still love him but I will never be like him to my kids.

  11. Kayla

    December 1, 2016 at 4:44 am

    After reading this, I called my daddy and we talked and really talked ehen and he told me what he wants for Christmas. Lol unlike the author my daddy always says am sorry to us when he knows he is wrong and always tells us please when he wants us to do something for him. Money can never compensate a good relationship between a daughter and her father. It sure goes a very long way on a girl child. If only father’s of today can see that. They will rather spend time with the kids than just bring money home. Even our heavenly father in heaven appreciates that we spend time with him so he can guide us rather than always come to him only when we need something. I thank God for my daddy and mummy.thank you author for this post it really brought tears to my eyes.

  12. john

    December 1, 2016 at 7:21 am

    this is truly one of the best article to come out of BN..tear flowings.no kidding even though I believe radical feminist wont like this article bcos they expect u to rant the normal villanous father who abused you and nigerian fathers are shit etc..this doesnt fit their sick narrative

  13. Dr. N

    December 1, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Your dad did a great job Frances!
    I have an awesome dad who pushes me daily. He never gave us reason to underachieve but encouraged us to aim as high as d boys and even higher.
    May our generation do even better

  14. Martha

    December 1, 2016 at 10:32 am

    wow! Thanks Frances, surely u had a great dad…
    This leaves me with tears…My dad is late but I remember how he chose to make us his top priority after mum had passed. He refused to take on the job offers outside countries so that he could just be part of our lives as we grew up daily. We are 5 children all girls and when his friends asked whether he has a boy atleast outside, his response was always those lovely girls are my boys…he say in us greater strength, he encouraged us to achieve lots of things and believed that whatever a man can do a woman can as well. He had his flaws but what matters most is he loved us and sacrificed a lot just for us. You left us too soon but left a great legacy…of generosity, caring, respecting others but most of all taught us the word of the Lord and loving our heavenly…you were truly a blessing. I would choose you over and over again if that opportunity would present itself. Rest in glory loving dad!. My prayer is am found by a man just as you.

  15. ferrari

    December 1, 2016 at 10:42 am

    last time i saw my dad was 4 days ago when i went home to visit him. i walked into his room where he was talking with my uncle and the love and happiness that showed on his face when he saw me, This was the first time I was seeing my dad since he got diagnosed with Alzheimers 3 weeks ago. My dad has been perfect as far as i am concerned and it kills me to even think that one day i will walk into a room and he may not know who i am.

  16. Peter

    December 1, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Frances nice write up. The best word for me to use about my dad is Amazing father

  17. Case

    December 1, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Lovely

  18. Jadon

    December 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    After reading this.I was very happy am proud of my grandfather I don’t care for my dad and mom course they give birth to me.after 6month year they left me.ooh my grandfather took care of me try all his best so that I will survive.I was not well educated because my grandfather didn’t has enough money to train me buh I lean allot from him…as a granddad all he’s experience in childhood he thought me all that.that is the end

  19. bijouxthisbijouthat

    December 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Wonderful article for your dad… a rare breed.. but i am wondering, if you lived with your dad all your life..when did you get to share those memorable times with your mom? kinda confused here..
    My dad loved us but he was strict!!! he knew love by being a disciplinarian

  20. Benbella

    December 1, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    As the incredible Nas song goes:

    “Papa was player, player wasn’t papa
    Papa loved the ladies
    Never got enough of
    Pretty brown round
    Running round town (Shhhhh)
    Don’t tell your mother what’s going down”

    Reading this article almost brought tears to my eyes, as late Pa Benbella was an incredible father. He was far from perfect, and now that he is gone, advise and lessons he gave me have a better meaning.

    – My dad did not teach me how to ride a bike, but he bought me one as soon as I was old enough to walk, piss and wipe my bum assisted. I came back from school on the last school day before Christmas holidays, and there was my blue BMX bike with the chrome handlebars glistening in the garage. It still had the UTC price tag on it. N300!!! Dad looked on proudly folding and adjusting his agbada sleeves like a true Igbo don-dada, as I took my first spins on the bike, almost crashing into the wall and damn near breaking my gorimakpa head in the process

    – My dad always took my word for it. If i “found” trouble outside, I knew my home was a safe haven. Innocent until proven guilty, except that once I was found guilty, justice was quick, harsh and without favour, just like street jungle justice.

    – These days I am looking more and more like him. I chew food like him (i swallow like a python ingesting an okete bush rat). I smile like him (with my teeth sticking out like a village square idiot). I also have his mannerisms and temperaments. His strengths and ideals. A love of family and a protectiveness of kin. But also his weaknesses and vices. Like a lust for pretty women. The Nas song explains this better:

    Papa why are you butt ass naked from the waist?
    And who’s this lady I’m facing?
    Dark skin lady, you’re not my mommy!
    He grabbed me up to run some smooth words by me/
    Promise things that he would buy me/
    If I kept my mouth closed and don’t tell mommy/
    He said one day I’ll understand, Little Me/
    What’s in you is inside me/

    • Manny

      December 1, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      LMAO. Too funny

  21. Mzphunby

    December 1, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    I envy people who have/had great dads.. You guys are sooo lucky!! My ex-dad, am lost for words sef.

  22. Annie

    December 3, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Shout out to my pálè……
    a very simple man who gave his all to make sure the 6 of us went through school…. He wore a pair of trousers for years not because he couldn’t afford new ones but decided to turn the cash in for our education. . A very intelligent man, our mobile dictionary as we call him. The 9 o’clock news listener, u dare not disturb him!!! Loves CNN too. I remember how he used to tell us to get a words and meaning exercise book to take note of new words, always hungry for knowledge. He is not a perfect dad but has stood with us through thick and thin. There’s a lot more to say but I’ll stop here. A big shout out to my Malè as well, u guys are the best..
    Let’s appreciate our parents this season, if you haven’t done anything for them this year, it’s about time you remind them how special they are.

  23. renzy

    December 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

    @benbella I think I am half in love with u….u are very funny and witty and looks like u rap a lot….call me we could be friends …….

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