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Opinions of Sunday, 17 June 2007

Columnist: Kojok, Justin

Father's Day: Do we owe them Gratitude?

Upon winner election as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher said, ‘I just owe almost everything to my father [and] it's passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.’ This is how much good fathers are thought of. We owe our fathers heart of gratitude in anyway.

Margaret’s was a political election but yours could be anything from education, marriage, career, religious, soci-economic victory in life. Whatever accomplishment any person has achieved under the sun, has its contributory root from his/her father, whether good or bad. If father is(was) good one you would proud mention him and even if he is(was) so bad that you are not proud of him as your father, you are still who you are because of him. Therefore, it wasn’t out of place, that 4000 years ago, in Babylon, Elmesu carved a father's day message on a clay card on which he wished his father a long and healthy life. That was the genesis of father’s Day but as to whether people actually celebrated Father’s Day thence has not been recorded until 1900s in America when Mrs. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd thought of honoring her father, a civil war veteran who single-handedly raised his six children after the death of his wife. She conceived this idea in 1909 when she listened to sermon on Mother’s Day in her church in Spokane, Washington State. The first official Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington and in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day. Today many countries across the globe celebrate the day as a national holiday.

You may say what is good about fathers that we should celebrate their day. When some of them kill their own children for money, when there is record breaking number of fathers defiling their own kids; murder their own kids to acquire spiritual/political powers, force their wives/girlfriends to cause abortion, neglecting their own children thus exposing them to the canker of drugs, robbery, child slavery and commercial sex exploitation?

Nonetheless, fathers are the biggest source of strength for their children. Innocently as they are, children perceive their fathers as the powerful, the most knowledgeable, truly affectionate and the most important persons in the families. Fathers are to their daughters the first men they adore and fall in love with, and to theirs sons the strongest persons they know and they aspire to become. Fathers are being looked up to for the most honest and succinct advice that is always in the best of our interest. They are there to stop us when we are diverting to wrong path in life’s journey and guide us on the highest path to success.

Whether they are alive or dead, memory of childhood would always have some history of blessings from our fathers. As the last born son of my late father down a country (village) in Ghana, I have a devoted memory of him. I was the only son among the three who had the opportunity to go out as well as travel with my father. As the custom demands, elderly man would always have a kid with him wherever he goes. And I was the lucky one to travel with my father not only in Ghana but to other nearby countries. I had the privilege to eat the meat that was only eaten by elders because I sat on the table with elders.

Even though I enjoyed greatly from this situation, I had a price to pay. I was denied the privilege to go school! I was not allowed to go to school not because I traveled with him, but because he didn’t see any need for me to go for the fact that our elder brother was in secondary school then. Putting on the scale, these privileges couldn’t equal the disadvantage of not being educated. I no you are wondering how come I wrote this article. Wait a second! Of course, I couldn’t have written this if I didn’t go to school. I went to school after his death (at older age anyway). And yet all the achievements I have accomplished and the degrees I have acquired, those I will acquire in the future and the blessings in my life, I give credent to this wonderful father.

When my father thought it good to deny me education, it finally served as a challenge to reach where I’m today. You may not be in my situation, but you might have been affected negative by actions or inactions of your father. He might have not owned you when your mother conceived you. He might have neglected and left you to your fate when you needed him most. He might have left you to be raised by your mother. He might have asked your mother to abort you. His actions and inactions might have earned prison degree. But count it all blessing. Thank God that today you are alive reading this article. Every pain that your father might have inflected on you, use it as a challenge to mold you future. Don’t hold it against him. Sort it out with him and let it go! It is not always true that good care that you receive from your father that makes you a success person. My late father had never earned university degree, snr minister accolade, nor had the privileges and blessings that I have and will continue to have in life but his humble lifestyle challenged the very foundation of my life to humbly succeed in every sphere of endeavor. Not only that but also his reasons for not allowing me go to school challenged and braced me up when I had the window of opportunity to go, which I embraced positively and used it to carve the alleyway of my future. I’m still nobody but the fact that I can speak to you (through this article) from the comfort of my home office in the Diaspora speaks volumes of how much God can turn hopeless situations into blessings.

When the media and industries take advantages of this day to promote their goods and make money, we can actually use the day to build ties with our fathers. No doubt, Father's Day brings with it the wonderful opportunity to apologize for all our rude and insensitive behavior either as a father or son/daughter. We as children often take the love and affection of our parents for granted and treats them with outright contempt. The good book says when the prodigal son retuned to his father’s house, there was celebration. What a blessing would it fill a father’s heart if he can have the privilege to talk, for the first time, with his son/daughter who he neglected and caused pain and discomfort to his/her development? What a blessing would fill the heart of him who wanted to kill you for money/spiritual powers/political powers but couldn’t succeed? How a humble and fulfilling life would your calls or visits bring him this day!

You might be reading this article in the airplane or workplace and may not have the chance to call right now. But don’t forget to give him a call and tell him how much important he is to you. You may have a father living as I do, but those you have come into contact with in your life journey are your fathers. Tell them how much you appreciate them. A church member told me that her daughter is going to her father this day for the first time after their divorce. You children who are staying away from your fathers must strive to spend the day with them and show gratitude for all their support and love. Otherwise, give them a call and express your love.

I had the privilege to live with people who felt proud to call me their son in the public. Even the younger ones I lived with, I embraced them as such and that ties exist among us. I also have privilege to be father to many whom I love and come to the knowledge of a bunch of responsibilities that got me refined. Like ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher, I humbly acknowledge all these folks this day. As the Snr Minister in the Diaspora, I modestly, on behalf of all Africans in the Diaspora and on my own behalf take this opportunity to express our love and gratitude to all fathers in our motherland and abroad. May I humbly leave you with the message from the good Book that ‘Children, obey your parents for this is right; and fathers, provoke not your children to anger but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’

Happy Father’s Day.

By Justin Kojok (Snr Minister)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.