LOUD WHISPERS: Some Lessons Daddy Taught Me

I have written about my relationship with my father a number of times. People say fathers have a special bond with their daughters, perhaps this is because a father is the first male role model you have. Most of your relationships with men, for better or for worse, are defined by the kind of experience you had with your father. No one gave my father a manual about raising a daughter. He did not live in a time of endless tips on ‘How to raise an independent, successful girl’. He was simply a kind, devoted and loving father who never spared the rod when it had to be used, and demanded high standards from all around him.  As we mark Father’s Day, these are some of the lessons I learnt from my father:


My father was a tall man and he had a loud voice. It would have been easy to assume that this made him a troublesome man, but he was the most peaceful person you could ever meet. He hated confrontations, though he did not back down from them when they arose. The only time I saw him angry with my mother was when she quarreled with one of our neighbours. The neighbor had been at fault because she had stormed into our compound and attacked my mother for having the audacity to smack her son who had been naughty. My father did not want to know if my mother was at fault or not. He said he wanted peace in his household and peace with his neighbours. As I grew up, I realized that it is not possible to expect that people will not storm into your life to cause all kinds of trouble. Yet you can decide that you will not let trouble, chaos and crisis rule your life. Sadly we are witnessing such a sharp rise in hostilities in our communities today. We all need to be very careful because no one benefits from a culture of violence. A culture of peace starts from us as individuals.


When I started primary school, my father made me write essays after school twice a week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He would grade my essays and make corrections. I went on a school trip to Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, Ogun State when I was nine. I wrote an essay about the trip and my father was so impressed with it, he showed it to everyone he could. ‘Can you believe she is only nine’ he would boast. It was my father who declared that I would make a good Journalist one day. When I finished my National Youth Service, he sent me to see one of his friends, Mrs Agbeke Ogunsanwo who was the Editor of Headlines Newspaper, a subsidiary of Daily Times. I had never met a woman who was the Editor of a newspaper. I shook and trembled in the presence of such a powerful role model. She gave me assignments to do, and when she published my first story which was an interview with an elderly gentleman who was a retired army officer at the time, my father’s joy and pride knew no bounds.


My father was one of those old school gentlemen who were very particular when it came to manners. He hated it when people paid him visits without an appointment. He dressed appropriately for every occasion and I remember always wanting to see him before he left for work in the morning because he would have a very nice tie on. Between him and my ‘Fashionista’ mother, I learnt the ropes! When we went out, I would watch his every move to make sure I did not make a mistake. My mother would give you the ‘side eye’ if you did something wrong in public and you knew there would be hell to pay later even if you did not know what you had done wrong. My father would talk to me about it and patiently explain what needed to be done differently. These days I see parents chewing gum in public with their children in tow, or using their phones in places of worship. We cannot blame young people for bad behaviour if we do not set a good example.


We had people around the house who helped with the running of the household. We were never allowed to call them ‘Omo Odo’ which is the Yoruba term for servants. We all worked, ate and played together. My parents ensured that they learnt a skill. There was Auntie Aduke for example, who learnt dressmaking, and my parents paid for her training and bought equipment for her when she finished. When she left our home, she set up her own dressmaking business. If we leave our children and homes with people for lengthy periods of time we need to treat them well. My father also made a point of getting to know his drivers, secretaries, messengers and other junior staff at home and at work. He would visit their homes when they had milestones such as birthdays  or naming ceremonies, and he would tell us that even though people in the places he went to would be shocked to see him there, he did not mind because he felt it was important to identify with people from all backgrounds. This lesson was very useful for me when my husband became a politician. On at least two occasions my advance party would call and say ‘Your Excellency, we don’t think you can come to this kind of place’, and I would respond with, ‘Why not? Is the place on fire?’


My father’s favourite spot in our home growing up was the balcony overlooking our street. That  is where he would sit after dinner, wearing his singlet and sipping his tea. I would sit with him and talk about current affairs or argue about one thing or the other. He would tell me, ‘I am happy with what I have. I have no desire to be very rich. You are my wealth. I have my career, my family and I am in good health. My corrupt friends at work who have been stealing money and buying houses in Ikoyi will answer for their crimes one day. I will be here, sipping my tea and enjoying my family’. And it came to pass. The Buhari/Idiagbon military coup of December 1983 rounded up some of my father’s colleagues in the civil service. My father was still on his balcony. Sipping his tea.


My father was the Honorary Secretary-General of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBBC) for almost 20 years. Most days after work, he would spend time on the affairs of the Board. He never received anything as remuneration, it was the other way round – he spent his own resources. Our home was always besieged by boxing promoters, sometimes with the boxers in tow. Boxers like Obisia Nwapa and Bash Ali were regular visitors. When I asked my father why he was not tired of attending to the administrative issues of the board after coming home from a full day of work, he would tell me that it is a privilege to be asked to serve people. He would say ‘To whom much is given, much is expected’.


There is a photograph in our family album of my father attending a funeral in Liverpool, England. The photograph has a lot of black men in it, all wearing suits and tie. The only person who stood out was my father in his native Agbada. When I asked my father what the event was and why he was the only one who looked different, he said it was the funeral of one of the old men at the Yoruba Social Club in Liverpool. My father was Secretary of the club at the time. He said he knew that everyone would wear a suit to the funeral, but he wanted to pay homage to the Yoruba ancestry of the deceased so he decided to wear his Agbada. I wanted to know if he did not feel uncomfortable being the only one who was not wearing a suit. My father laughed and said, ‘I wore Agbada to the funeral of a Yoruba man. I don’t know why the others wore suits. That is their problem, not mine. Hey, see how I stand out!’.  When my parents took me for christening in their church in Liverpool, I was not given any English names. When the priest asked for my names, my father gave him only Yoruba names. The Priest was confused. ‘No English names like Mary or Victoria?’ he asked. My father asked him if God would have a problem with Yoruba names and the Priest shook his head and carried on with the ceremony. When I went back to live in England, I hardly ever wore a dress and hat to a wedding. I would always wear Iro and Buba with a headtie. And yes, I would stand out!


My father loved the arts. He would take us to watch films and stage plays. He was an ardent fan of stage legends such as Hubert Ogunde and Baba Sala. If no one wanted to go with him, he went on his own. One day, we were planning to go and see the opening of Hubert Ogunde’s film Aiye. I told my father that perhaps we should not go on the first day because there will be so many people there. My father said it did not matter. ‘You too will be a part of the crowd and you will accomplish exactly what others have gone there to do which is see a good film and have fun’. Be bold. Have fun. Explore, see things, have a fresh perspective.

Of course there are so many other lessons from Daddy I could talk about – the value of education, discipline, religion, family, it is a very long list. Thank you Daddy for all you taught me. Continue to rest in perfect peace. Happy Father’s Day to all Daddies out there. Remember, Fatherhood cannot be outsourced, no matter how capable your wife or ‘Baby Mama’ is. You might not have a lot of money, but you can show that you care. To my current ‘Daddy’, thank you for being such a wonderful husband and father. You rock!


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com



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21 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Some Lessons Daddy Taught Me

  1. Femi Diipo June 19, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    What a wonderful man, and may his soul rest in peace. Happy fathers day to all fathers and aspiring fathers. May we be good models for our children

  2. Dom Dom June 19, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    These lessons made me remember my father and how much he had impacted me too. Great fathers deserved to be celebrated even after they are long gone. Happy fathers day

  3. DSEED June 19, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    These has been the same lessons I learn from my late daddy too. He is such a great man. Father of such needs to be celebrated. For those that still have celebrate them. Even thou you can’t learn all these from your father still celebrate him and you become a good father to your children.

  4. Oluwatosino June 20, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Nice….. Great lessons we’ve learnt from our father’s. My father also taught me most of these things. My father taught me to be accountable, respectful, humble (my father is so humble). Happy Fathers day to our dear fathers. We celebrate you all today.

  5. Amina Shittu June 20, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I wished I had such a close relationship with my father. He was an absentee.

  6. Maureen Adams June 20, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Fatherhood is deep
    It’s more than providing for the home
    Communion, genuity and love is very paramount.

  7. Afolabi June 20, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I am not a father for now, but with the men I have around me, I have taken clues from them and from my mother most especially. I don’t have a father but my mother have been both to me and indeed I will be a great man and I will be there for my wife and children for a long time.

  8. folakemi Herbet June 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Happy fathers Day to every great man out there. Genuine fathers who understand what it means to be a good one.

  9. Bisi Alawode June 20, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Happy fathers day to my husband too. I wonder how he does it but he’s been such a great man. God bless all our fathers. Real fathers.

  10. Lola Adeoye June 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

    I am not surprised because mama has all the qualities right here. I am happy that such a great man brought you up. God bless him and bless current daddy also.

    Happy fathers day to all the great men around the world.

  11. Olakunle Olajide June 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Happy Father’s day to all the wonderful daddies i know. A father is the first male role model really. I think i have learnt in diverse ways from my dad. He isn’t a perfect man and i guess is good and also his flaws has built me to be a better man. So i say thank you Dad.

  12. Victor June 21, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Happy father’s day to great men all over the world. Men who are not absent. Men who provide. Men who don’t hit their wives. Men who don’t sleep with their children.

    Happy father’s day to them.

  13. Adebukola Daniels June 21, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Life time lessons right here. I am happy a great man influenced the great woman we have here. I pray that men will learn and know what it is like, to be great men.

  14. Solomon Nkechi June 21, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I miss my dad. He was a good man. He stood by his family through thick and thin and died in the process. There are good men out there and really, I use my late dad as yardstick for any man coming into my life.

  15. Flakky June 21, 2017 at 11:02 am

    words cannot express how much my dad means to me o. He’s a good man. I wish him and every good father in the world a Happy Father’s Day

  16. Oyemakinwa. June 21, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Happy father’s day! These are life lessons that unfortunately most men don’t teach their children anymore. They teach them to embezzle money, They teach them to go and work for them.

    The bible says, a good man leave inheritance for his children. Good inheritance not his children fighting to give him inheritance.

  17. Julie June 22, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Beautiful write up. I never had an intimate relationship with my father as a little child, but I learnt one or two things from him which is neatness and decorum.

  18. Princess June 22, 2017 at 10:02 am

    A wonderful parents who can find? I can boldly say my father and mother is awesome when it comes to advice and not being bohemian in nature. My father always keeps to time come rain come shine. And that I learnt from him, mum is the best when it comes to being one’s self.

  19. Ebonychyqui2 June 22, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Hmmm every of the point elucidated here my parents strictly adhere to. I love you momma and papa! The only way to show my appreciation is to give what you have freely given me to everyone I come across in my journey of life.

  20. Kes June 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

    All the lessons here are a good food for thought. This is how everyone should live their lives. Thanks ma’am for sharing this with us.

  21. Legzycool June 22, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Very great lessons. One thing i can’t forget learning from my dad is the never back down attitude.
    And i would also like to say Happy Father’s day to the single mothers out there playing the role of a father.


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