It takes a real man to be a father

The last two months have been very eventful. Among the things that have happened and warrant discussion in this column is the paternity of the late marathon champion Samuel Kamau

  • PublishedJuly 10, 2011

The last two months have been very eventful. Among the things that have happened and warrant discussion in this column is the paternity of the late marathon champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru. Two men have come out to claim Wanjiru as their biological son, while a third one claims him as his adopted son. “Who is Wanjiru’s real father,” is a question that still begs an answer? Just like me, many of you must be guessing who this Baba mzazi (biological father) really is, especially because we have been given an opportunity to see pictures of the candidates and read a little about where they come from. I have heard some people say the kind of athletic prowess Wanjiru possessed was only possible from a Kalenjin heritage. From this front, the Kalenjin claimant carries the day. A friend of mine is convinced the man from Ol Kalau is Wanjiru’s biological father. He says Wanjiru’s forehead is a carbon copy of the man’s. And the guesswork continues…

And because I too would want my voice heard in this democracy of ours, I want to throw in what I think about the late marathoner’s paternity. This is my view: I DON’T GIVE A DAMN. If anything, these men should be sued for child neglect.

But let us talk about the men who read this column – the real men. I hope none of us is caught in such drama, unless you are suing a woman for threatening to abort a child whom you believe you have fathered. Think of it this way, if Wanjiru was a wanted criminal like Wanugu or Rasta, would these men be going to such lengths to stop burial until DNA test is conducted to prove paternity? Another question: What then, after it is proved you are the biological father? Do we crown you with the Head of State Commendation for producing the best marathoner’s sperm in the world?

Dear men, the question I have raised above is not even the most disturbing in my judgement. What disturbs me most is that Wanjiru died at the age of 24. Yes, 24 long (or short depending on where you are coming from) years! Why didn’t anyone want the paternity test done when he was, say, two years old? Or when his mother was struggling to feed and bring up the boy in abject poverty? Where were these men? Why didn’t they raise a ruckus that another man in Kiambu was fending for their son and his mother while they (the real fathers) were alive and well, and perhaps living their best lives? Why didn’t they go to court to demand child custody since it now appears they loved the boy so much? Or is it that their love, like good wine, has matured with age so they should not be held responsible for Wanjiru’s earlier ‘loveless’ years?

In this column, we celebrate responsible men. We celebrate men who, even with meagre resources, proudly take care of their wives and children without complaining. And because we have no grey areas concerning our motive, we then must condemn any man who, we think, is irresponsible. My brothers, what good will you do your son or daughter if you only surface to claim fatherhood after he or she is dead? If you were so manly that you could even declare your fatherhood on national television, why couldn’t you stand with your child when he was growing up in poverty and when he needed you most? And don’t tell us the mother sent you away or did not respond to your calls because there are courts of justice in this country. After all, aren’t you supposed to be a real man who protects his turf unto death?

The real men who read this column must know that God has given us a chance to nurture the next generation. Whatever children we bring up will either destroy or make the world a better place. We must then insist on being around our children from day one unless serious circumstances do not permit it. Let us be fathers, not only because we produced fertile sperms but more so because we were there to watch and help the child grow. Our idea of fatherhood must go beyond that of dogs and other beasts that go about spreading their seed to any female on heat (or is drunk and gullible) to fatherhood of presence, formation, education and nurturing.

Our wives and children and the community at large should not know you as a hit and run dude, but as a knight who came, saw and conquered. If I were the doctor overseeing Wanjiru’s DNA test, I would write a report similar to this: ANY MAN CAN FATHER A CHILD, BUT IT TAKES A REAL MAN TO BE A FATHER.

And so the real father is not the man who took off after planting the seed but the one (if at all) who ensured the child overcame the hardships of life to claim a niche in the world of sports. It does not matter if that man was the biological father or not! I beg to move the motion!

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