The apartheid era forced South African comedian and television host, Trevor Noah, to grow up without a father. When he was twenty-four years old, his mother told him to find his father reasoning with him that, if he didn’t find him, he wouldn’t find himself.
“You need to find your father because he’s a piece of you and if you don’t find him you won’t find yourself. Too many men grow up without their fathers, so they spend their lives with a false impression of who their father is and what a father should be. You need to find your father. You need to show him what you’ve become. You need to finish that story,” she had told him. Noah discloses this in his book ‘Born a Crime.’
A father’s love comes in many shades. This is why the ‘father-effect’ is not a subjective but rather an objective one.
What stands out with the gift of fatherhood is its ability to uncover a shine that lights the life of the child and that of the father himself.
Bikozulu a blogger and father himself expresses this well when he writes that a child can evoke such deep and alien feelings in you, such profound feelings that will horrify you by their ability to draw out your vulnerability.
He described the inane conversations he held with his then 4-year-old daughter as he dropped her off to school, how their senseless and directionless chats were, and that for him, these seemingly trivial and intangible moments define what being a father is.
Some tend to reason that fatherhood is an easier journey since fathers don’t bear the affliction that comes with pregnancy or go through labour pains; however, fathers reveal that this is not the case.
“Fatherhood is not an easy walk; we fight with thoughts of whether we will be able to connect with our child, whether we will be a good fatherly example for them. Whether they will love us back just like they tend to with mothers,” says Vincent Ishimwe, a bank teller and father of one.
He was lucky to be around when his daughter was born, but holding his child in his arms came with mixed feelings- feelings of pride and fear.
“Holding her in my arms made me question myself. I was lost and had a lot of doubts. Was I a father? Was I ready for this? I never doubted the love I had for my child but I had not come to terms with my new identity. I was a father and it was terrifying,” he narrates.
Pie Kombe had his son when he was still a teen. He could hardly come to terms with the fact that he was going to be someone’s father at such a tender age, he was in shock.
The entire experience however, gave him a mixed wave of emotions, “I went through fear, frustration but even more, was the joy I felt when my girlfriend accepted to have the baby. I was so happy and started telling everyone that I was about to be a dad.
"Although my parents were disappointed, they showed me love and support when the kid was born and this helped me out of the frustration I had," he says.
Challenges set in when his girlfriend had to go abroad leaving him to raise their son alone.
“She left me because I was broke, her family wanted us to get married yet I was not ready. This is when the real struggle for everything started,” he recalls.
Kombe sailed through the parenting storm alone with his son and as a happy father now, he is proud to have raised their now 8-year-old son.
The rewards and challenges of fatherhood
Fred Ofuwa, a father of two daughters, says the fatherhood journey for him has been interesting and challenging at the same time.
“Interesting, in a way that you start to look at life in a very different angle, responsibility starts to be the order of the day and there is some sort of respect you earn from people than before joining the fatherhood club,” he says.
Ofuwa also notes that fatherhood has also helped in upgrading his bargaining power in terms of handling business and at workplaces as well.
His two daughters have pushed him to really work hard to ensure that his children are kept in good schools and that they also never lack any basic needs like food and clothing.
He says he cherishes his role as a father though the journey has had its high and low moments.
“My highest moment was when my second child was born because this happened when we were together. The first child was born when I was away. My lowest moment was when my child was very sick and I literally had no cash with me,” Ofuwa says.
Eric Ntare says that for him, becoming a father was the most joyous moment of his life.
“It changed my whole life and I am now a man with vision and clear purpose for the future because I know that I am doing everything for my sons,” he says.
In an effort to spend time with his children; Ntare makes sure he arrives home every time before 5pm so that he gives his children quality time.
“While at home, I automatically take over from the house maid because I go with the intention to care for the kids-playing with them, helping with their homework, showering them, feeding them, and finally taking them to bed where I invent all sorts of fairytales for them in Kinyarwanda before they sleep,” he narrates.
He also makes sure that his work leave coincides with his kids' examination period so that he takes extra care when it comes to preparing them for exams.
Such experiences prove that fatherhood comes with an inherent and distinctive prominence. Whereas nothing can compare to a mother’s love, a father’s love is unrivalled.
YOUR VOICE: FATHERS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE
Fatherhood is life changing. I didn’t know I would love someone more than I love myself. My son resembles me a lot; at least I can see it and that has in some way made him a mirror through which I see myself. He is someone who will force me out of the office before finishing my assignment just to rush out and be with him.
Through fatherhood, I have also realised what it means to love selflessly and patiently. I have immense respect for parents because I now understand what they go through to raise a human being.
Athan Tashobya, News Anchor
Fatherhood is one of the most amazing things that have ever happened in my life. It has taught me to be more responsible and has encouraged me to work harder for my family. I feel proud to be called a father.
Clapton Mugisha, Comedian
It is a humbling experience. I adore my children and work hard to give them the best life for I don’t want them to lack anything while I am still alive and able to fend for them.
Emmanuel Kigenyi, Lawyer
Fatherhood is a journey you can only understand after experiencing it. When you have a child that’s when you discover how much you can love another human being. It also makes you more protective of the people you care for.
Robert Mugabe, Reflexologist