The legacy my father left


“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom,” Umberto Eco in Foucault’s Pendulum

Happy Father’s Day!

Last night I was listening to the weekly address of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, and it reminded me of the legacy my father left.

When he passed on last year, I knew I had lost a formidable father, a masterly mentor and a terrific teacher.

He was a father full of care, love, humility, generosity and understanding. He made so positive an impact on me that I can’t forget him in a hurry!

He did not only tell us the value of living a good life, of prayer and of meditating on the word of God, he showed us by his own example.

He was a stickler for knowledge, excellence and personal development. Though he did not have the chance to receive formal education in the four walls of a school, he was so committed to personal development that he was able to read and write.

Amid overwhelming odds, he strove to give his family his best. To be sure, his good example and the good name he left are the legacy I will always cherish and emulate.

“I know how important it is to have a dad in your life, because I grew up without my father around. I felt the weight of his absence,” President Obama said. “So for Michelle and our girls, I try every day to be the husband and father my family didn’t have when I was young.”

Stressing the need for fathers to get more involved in their children’s lives, Obama said: “What makes you a man isn’t the ability to have a child; it is the courage to raise one.

”There is nothing more precious in life than the time we spend with our children. There is no better feeling than knowing that we can be there for them and provide for them…”

Over the past couple of years I have met with a lot of young people who don’t have a father figure in their lives, said Obama, “Any of us can do our part to be a mentor, a sounding board, a role model for a kid who needs one…Taking responsibility for being a great parent or a mentor is a choice that we as individuals have to make. No government programme can ever take the place of a parent’s love.”

Many years ago, the brother of Alfred Nobel died in Stockholm. But the newspapers got the name wrong as they concluded it was Alfred Nobel himself who had died, and wrote his obituary, which he read the next day. In Nobel’s premature obituary, he was remembered primarily for inventing dynamite, which had been responsible for the deaths of countless human beings in wars and conflicts around the world.

This obituary has such a shocking effect on Nobel that he immediately began rearranging his entire life to change his legacy and assure that his obituary, when it was ultimately written, would be completely different. To this end, he established the Nobel Prizes, based on his great fortune, which are today the highest awards that can be attained in the worlds of literature, medicine, science, economics, peace and chemistry.

By thinking clearly about the legacy he wanted to leave, he transformed both his present actions and his ultimate memory. He rewrote his own obituary.

“A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling, and suffering for them. In so doing, he really stands in their place. He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own self,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Once again, Happy Father’s Day!

‘FEMI tweets @asufemi


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