Celebrating Strathmore Fathers
Dad. His title may be short, but his influence is long and powerful. In a beautiful way, his love comes in many shades. This is the man who teaches you how to lead, to respect others, to always stand up for yourself yet still morphs into your action-packed friend who is ready to play. As James Dobson says children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to parents temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.
To celebrate this year’s Father’s Day, a few staff members share their experiences of fatherhood.
Dr. Nicodemus Maingi, Senior Lecturer, Strathmore University Business School
“As a father of 4: Victor, 14; Javier, 13; Rafael, 11 and Veronica, 9, I have a reason to work hard, to be more responsible and to strive to be a better mentor. Children do what they see us do and not what we say. It’s a blessing to have children as there are many that do not get the privilege. I cherish and celebrate these little ones! Some of the fun activities we do include playing basketball, road runs, movies and bike rides, chess matches – the boys beat me all the time. The teenage boys love techno and hip hop and I think this is making me younger. We also have learnt to entertain ourselves by reading and telling good stories.
I enjoy ‘dating’ my children. These dates are opportunities to listen and hear each of their stories and challenges. It gives them a great sense of importance and affirmation. Of course this quickly becomes a subject of discussion with their mother and so I keep being reminded who I should date more. I also enjoy making pancakes for the brood on Sundays when I am inspired and energized. I am still seeking motivation when it comes to supervising homework and signing diaries as an attestation that all the homework is completed.
I thank my father for being unrelenting, reliable and solid. My dad believed that each one should make use of all the opportunities life affords them. These opportunities included access to a decent education; from it he expected results. My joining Lenana School, in those years when making it to a national school was a cut-throat exercise, was a high point for my dad.
Hard work complemented by a lot of affection and support are some of the demands I impress upon my children. I do my bit, they do theirs! We pray together every day on our way to school, during meals and before they go to bed at night.
When they are all grown and on their own, may they remember my accessibility, the time I spent with them, the ideas and lessons I shared. May they remember seeing me at my strongest and weakest points, joys, sorrows and the confidence I fostered in them.
To those desiring to be fathers, fatherhood is a decision, not to be claimed but earned, one day at a time. And it starts way before the children arrive. Yes, it doesn’t come easy but unless it is embraced 100%, it is not worth it.”
Daniel Kiilur, Executive Director, University Services
“Fathers need to be involved in their children’s lives. Not just when it is convenient and when they are doing well but more so when it is difficult, thankless, and they are struggling. Fatherhood is a great responsibility that not only calls for one to provide food, shelter, good education but also to lead by example. As a father it means running on an empty wallet for a long stretches of time. Yet this is an honorable sacrifice is that priceless.
Hard work, order and punctuality are just but a few of the habits I credit to my father. In addition, my faith and knowledge God has been cultivated by a dad who walked the walk.
I am a father of seven children aged between 44 and 21. Having three boys and four girls has taught me that each child is God’s masterpiece; that forgiveness heals a family and opens doors to honest conversations. My desire is that my children will remember me for my hard work, respect for others and fear of God.
As a father, you have to be present at home so that the children see you and hear what you say. We are a symbol of authority for both the boys and the girls! So the fact that you are present, even when you say nothing, means a lot to the family. When you are absent, a lot of trouble lies ahead. Young fathers have a hurdles to overcome, among them peer pressure. We have to find ways of keeping the family united: No father should ever walk alone.
Celebrating nine birthdays and going for holidays together offer tremendous bonding time. Though we enjoy swimming as a family, during the pandemic, we walk and jog.
My advice to the young man that desires to be a father is that they must be ready to sacrifice themselves and their resources for the welfare of the family. Keep going especially when things are tough. Your personal feelings about circumstances are not usually an indicator that it is time to quit. Never give up on caring for your children, just as our heavenly Father never gives up on us. Love the Lord first and all your other priorities will fall into place. Also, love the mother of your children.”
Felix Mogesa, Doctoral Fellow, Strathmore University Business School
“My daughter ran to the door and gave me a big hug and everything the tough things that happened that day just melted away. Anne-Marie will be turning three this year. Just as with Eugene, Gregory, Benedict, Yvonne and Audrey, being her dad is priceless. Though a great responsibility, the blessings they rain on my wife and I supersede anything we will ever achieve in life. As they grow older, it is my prayer they will remember a loving, firm father who worked hard to provide a loving atmosphere for them and appreciate that they were free to develop.
The most enjoyable thing about being a father is spending quality time with my family: During this pandemic we have a lot of indoor games – chess, snakes and ladders, cards, blocks and puzzles. We’ve had lots of spontaneous activities – football, bike riding and racing. When the children are young they love being thrown up: In return, I receive roars of laughter. And as an Arsenal fan, my son Eugene often fills me in on the scores and we occasionally watch matches together.
What I enjoy the least about being a father is staying up all night worrying about them when they are unwell or unsettled. To keep going, I remember the words of St. Josemaria Escriva “God never asked for perfection. He simply wants your attention and affection. Don’t give up! The prize is worth the race.”
My dad was convinced of the need of a good education for all children. I therefore work to ensure our children have a firm foundation in the same. It is my father who taught me the rudiments of leading a Christian life. I remember as a child saying evening prayers together in the family. Today, we say the rosary and evening prayers as a family. As a child, we’d have meals as a family; now it’s a way of life for us. I believe there is nothing more important than parents passing on a generational legacy of faith and values to their children.”
Raphael Karanja, Business Partner, People and Culture
“I am a last born in a family of 5. I was born and bred in Western part of Kenya. I love serving people, possibly touching a heart, and putting a smile on someone’s face through serving them and helping them out.
St. Augustine says, “Our Lord was not born of the seed of Joseph. Yet of the piety and charity of Joseph a son was born to him, of the Virgin Mary, and this was the Son of God.” To me, the words of St Augustine depicts the true definition of Fatherhood. A father is a teacher, a source of confidence, an image of reassurance. At home, he is the doctor, the carpenter, the mechanic. H loves deeply, even when he can’t say the “I love you” out loud.
At a youthful age, my father was caught up with the Mau Mau war. This, sadly, meant the end of school. But I have never met a wiser person and a greater teacher than my father. He has a powerful memory, and whenever I visit him at home (Kakamega County), alone or in the company of friends, he always takes us back to his early days through stories that are so vivid, so real. I look up to him for inspiration, for guidance, for advice and of course to for lifelong lessons.
I am grateful and glad to have served as School Manager of the former School of Finance and Applied Economics (now, Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Sciences). Those were truly my best four years in Strathmore. We had a good rapport with my students, respectful but fun. There could not be any better way to mould the young men I encountered than to appreciate the fact that they are a person. And that is how I have and continue to mould young men, by just treating them with respect and dignity.
With all human weakness notwithstanding, I would like to live the role of fatherhood by giving myself to the needs of others, knowing that I can be of help to someone and by that mere aspect of serving, that I am transforming their lives. And when my Lord calls me home, I can say with a smile I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Allan Mukuki, Lecturer & Director, International Partnerships, Strathmore Law School
“Clarence Budington Kelland says: My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it. I relate to this sentiment as this is who my father has always been to me. A man of few words but one who throughout his life, taught me hard work, patience, courage, to be a dangerous dreamer and to be a man whose words are my bond. A father is a teacher. I have been his student all my life.
I remember when I was a 10-year-old boy, I came home crying because I had been beaten. And what did dad say? ‘And you stood there as another boy beat you?’ Well, not that he encouraged violence, but that memory taught me to stand up to any adversary and to grow from it.
It is said that a man is known by his legacy and my father is a manifestation of the legacy left behind by my grandfather. In turn, my siblings and I are a manifestation of my father’s legacy. My academic and professional accomplishments are a clear indication of the sacrifices and love of a father who despite financial difficulties and challenges, went on to obtain a degree: A man who educated his own siblings while he studied, a man who sacrificed all he had to ensure that his children lived a better life than he did. My father gave us the ability to soar like the Eagles. Not once did he clip our wings. If that is not the love of a father, I do not know what is.
As a mentor and as a lecturer, it is my duty to ensure that I live up to what I have been taught by the men who, apart from my father, have mentored me: Prof. Luis Franceschi, Mr. Muciimi Mbaka, Rev. Majid Ochieng’, Dr. Fred Ojiambo, S.C., Prof. Panos Merkouris, and the list goes on. By this, I have learnt to teach others how to live up to this task as well. Borrowing two points from Abraham Lincoln’s most celebrated letter to his son’s headmaster, I have learnt to mould others around me ‘to have the courage to be impatient and the patient to be brave.’
In the role of fathers and mentors, we are amateurs and we get to learn as we live through them. But the bottom-line is that the values that I have been taught by my father, teachers and mentors, are the same that I would like to pass-on to those that I mentor and in the future, to those that God shall entrust to me as my children.”
Dr. John Mutisya, Director, Mentoring Services
“Ordinarily a father is the first role model that any young man encounters. He is also a teacher who helps his sons/daughters discover their identity. Fatherhood is a noble calling. It entails a choice. It begins with the conception of a new life and from then on there is irreversible change in the life of the man. Commonly the role of the mother consists of providing love and tenderness. Analogously, the role of the father is to protect and provide for the family. Later on, it evolves to encouraging children to go into the world, to gain independence and to learn how to be self-reliant. In a nutshell, to help children find their place in the world.
There are several things that I admire in my father and which I would like to live up to. One that comes to mind is the high standards he demanded for his children. It is something I did not appreciated as a boy because it meant more work on several fronts, but with the passage of time I now understand what he was trying to do. As for my grandfather, I would like to live up to his adventurous spirit. The ability to do whatever was necessary to take good care of his family, accommodating whatever sacrifice that was entailed.
I think one of the reasons that the bachelor status is immensely attractive for young men is the sensation of freedom that comes along with it. A sense of liberation from ties and duties that ‘hold men back’ from living the ideal life they have always dreamt of. As enthralling as that lifestyle may seem, one begins to get weary of it. Variety is the spice of life, and taking on responsibilities gradually in life is what converts a boy into a man and enriches his life.
It can be a challenge to mould people because they make their own free choices and bear the consequences. So, I try to help young men see the benefits of steadily taking on responsibilities in life and making their existence more meaningful.”
Book suggestions from the fathers to get you through this journey:
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey
- Parenting is not for Cowards & Solid Answers by Dr. James Dobson
- Character Building by David Isaacs
- Father, the family protector by James Stenson
- Fatherless America by David Blankenhorn
These articles have been written by Odhiambo Obonyo and Annete Karanja.
Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: firstname.lastname@example.org