According to Wikipedia, Father’s Day is a celebration honouring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in the society.
It is celebrated in over 50 countries across the globe including the USA, the UK, Canada, Ukraine, Mexico, France, Japan, China, Argentina, South Africa, India and many other countries on the third Sunday of June.
Father's Day was actually inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother’s Day, and although the date and style of celebrating Father’s Day may vary slightly from country to country, the spirit of the occasion remains the same. In many countries across the world, it is celebrated with enthusiasm.
However, I have noticed that in Nigeria the Father’s day seems to be generally overshadowed by other annual days like Valentine and Mother's Day and other religious seasons that also come once a year.
For example, Nigerians celebrate Valentine's Day in a big and noisy manner. There is usually a deluge of special Valentine promotions advertised by Hotels, Telecom companies, Airlines, Restaurants, Fast Food Outlets and High Street Shops.
They all encourage us to purchase goods or services, ostensibly to celebrate Valentine's day with loved ones; whilst they rake in profits from exploiting our collective attachments to the season. The same scenario is typically replicated during the other religious seasons like Easter, Ramadan and Christmas.
It becomes more amazing when you realize that the industry(ies) that can actually influence the public perception about Father's Day – the Media, Hospitality, Advertising, Public Relations etc have more men running the businesses, and yet these men remain passive and do little or nothing to increase the awareness about Father's day. Instead they have sat back each year and allowed the day to pass without just like any other day.
To me, it either means the men do not believe they deserve the recognition, or they have unconsciously accepted the fact that their efforts will neither be recognised nor be celebrated.
If the Telecom networks, Hospitality industries, Fast Foods outlets and Airlines, are not doing any promotions or packages for Father's day - It is simply because they have jointly concluded that Father's day is not commercially viable, because the women that should be doing the major buying for Father’s day are just not buying into it.
It is obvious that Mother's Day is also widely celebrated amongst us. Right from Nursery School, my children learnt how to design "Mother's Day" cards which they proudly presented to me. Sadly, Father's Day never got the same attention.
Therefore, even from the cradle, the psyche of the young ones is tuned to appreciate only Mummy. This seems to be a subtle “marginalization” of Fathers!
This year I started asking myself why we were so passive about Father's Day? Why have we have taken the Father's role, and lifelong efforts for granted? I know some women have a long list of what their men have failed to do; but how many women have taken time to list out the good things their men have done?
Are we teaching our children to appreciate fathers or father figures? It seems that we are collectively guilty of taking the men for granted.
Though, it is widely known that some men have abdicated their fatherly roles and responsibilities to the women, the essence of celebrating Father's Day is so that we can appreciate those men that have continued to strive and sacrifice just to meet and possibly surpass the collective expectations imposed upon them by family and society.
Some women have a long list of what their man has failed to do; but how many women have taken time to list out the good things their man has done? I know that men give in various moods. Some do it voluntarily, happily and selflessly, while others have to be nagged and reminded about their responsibility.
However, there is a pervasive willingness amongst our men to do what a man ought to do – for the extended family, wives, siblings, partners, children and the society at large.
I have realized that it is not really a man’s world. The man – like a beast of burden - is expected to bear the burdens of others for the better part of his life. No matter the level, once a man starts to earn an income, he automatically has to service other people. Therefore, in reality our men spend their lifetime providing for others. They constantly do things for the family – before doing anything for themselves.
Once a man collects his salary he needs to sort out accommodation, children, partners, vehicle maintenance, food allowance, religious obligations. Additionally, men cater for their old parents, pay siblings school fees and still save for the rainy day among so many other things.
The self-employed businessman does not fare better than the salary earner, because their lives revolve around the same responsibilities. The only difference is that the businessman has more resources, so he caters to both the immediate and extended families, in addition to the endless requests from friends and strangers.
Father's Day is an opportunity for all women and men to send greetings, pay tributes and say thank you to the men that have played fatherly roles towards us. In our African culture fatherly roles are not restricted to biological fathers only.
The "father" figure could be adopted father, foster father, surrogate father, stepfathers, father-in-laws, uncles, brothers, bosses, religious leaders and all the other men who provide care, mentoring, understanding, resources, support, and generally made our lives better.
Men do not demand appreciation the way a woman does, but it does not mean they do not want to be appreciated. If there is anyone that thinks there is nothing to thank men for, then I suggest you go visit one or two widows of deceased civilians or armed forces personnel, or women that lost their partners, sisters that lost brothers, old couples that lost a son, or some single and separated mothers; and then ask the women or children if they miss having a man in their life.
By the time you finish with them you would realize that we have taken so many things about our men for granted.
When was the last time you called your Father back home to say hello and ask about his health? When was the last time you called your Uncle to thank him once again for sponsoring your education or marriage? How often do you call your senior brother to thank him for supporting you and your siblings?
Many of us can remember vividly the sacrifices that Fathers made on our behalf years ago; but sadly once we leave our parents and move on many of us are not willing to sacrifice time and resources for the parents anymore. We have myriad of excuses - mainly because we are too busy with our own new lives.
On Father's Day, you can thank your Dad for paying school fees when you were younger. Thank him for putting food on the table and making sure you wore shoes to school. Thank your Dad for waking the household up to pray every morning.
Thank him for being a role model. Thank him for being a good husband to your mother over the years. Thank your Father for giving you out in marriage, and for standing back to allow you enjoy your marriage without interference.
Thank your Father for paying for your holidays. Thank him for paying for or giving you driving lessons. Thank him for all the years he took you to the barber's shop. Thank him for loving you just the way you are.
Thank the father figures in your life, for giving you free advice, for wiping your tears, for paying your school fees, or settling exam fees, for responding to your SOS calls from campus. Thank those men who have assisted you to achieve your dreams of starting a business, or buying a car, for defending your cause, supporting your ideas, and generally providing a shoulder to lean upon.
Thank the religious leader for being part of your family. Thank the boss who has mentored you over the years. Thank your brother for accommodating you, while you sorted your life out.
Furthermore, you can thank your husband for paying the children's school fees, or for dropping them at school. Thank him for taking time to help the children with homework. Thank your hubby for supporting you at home, in your career and other goals. You can appreciate the man in your life for always sending credits to your phone.
You can thank the man who married you for remaining committed to you. Thank your man for calling you during the day to check if you are okay. Thank your man for putting money down for household expenses – even though there are times he literally has to squeeze himself to do it.
Thank the men for working so hard, only to spend most of the income on the family. Thank the men that support you to give your children discipline and training. Thank the men for coming to your rescue the day your car broke down, and the day you had a flat tyre.
Thank the men for buying the generator and fuelling it. Thank the men for making sure the car is serviced and fixed properly. Thank them for changing the bulbs in the house, and fixing the broken stuff. Thank the men for all the stress they go through in this environment, on behalf of the women.
Dear reader, on Father’s Day you need to show some love to the fathers in your lives. Celebrate them, because you and I know that without them, life would just not be the same.
Even if you cannot afford a gift, try to send a text, make a phone call, or just walk up to them and say THANK YOU SIR!!