Rethinking our Priorities as Men – How Important is the Legacy of Fatherhood?
I fondly recall the words of James David wolfensohn. James Wolfensohn is the 9th president of the World Bank group. He served meritoriously for two terms of ten years. He is credited among other things with being the first World Bank president to bring attention to the problem of corruption in the area of developmental financing.
Wolfensohn is 80, a husband of one wife of close to 60 years, father of three children and grandfather of seven. On Sunday July 18, 2010 in a guest appearance and engaging interview on One on One with Riz Kahn of Aljazeera,
he was asked by the famous anchor, “How would you like to be remembered?” Looking straight and confidently into the camera, Wolfensohn replied with enthusiastic conviction, “As a decent father.”
This response speaks volume and gives us a perspective of his most cherished legacy. For all his accomplishments in business and the World Bank, his response showed that he prized his role as a father above his outstandingly successful career. It is obvious that fatherhood occupied a prime place in the estimation of his legacy. His response is indeed food for thought and worthy of emulation.
I believe the father is a source of life, values and inspiration to a child. He teaches vision and keeps inspiration alive by positive examples. Sadly today, fathers are failing grossly in these responsibilities. This fact is corroborated by a saying that fathers give to their children what they make but they never give to their children what makes them. It has
been estimated that fatherhood failings will cost the United States over a trillion dollars this decade.
When a father is misguided, there is every tendency to produce a dysfunctional family. It is therefore apparent that Fatherhood is the cornerstone of the family and the family is the cornerstone of civilization.
Despite the inherent challenges, I love being a father and husband. I have recognized that having a great family life is one of the greatest blessings a man can know. I also have realized that Wisdom, time and energy are necessary to create a fatherhood legacy. A man must have the energy to invest in his children and create the time to invest that energy in the proper development and moulding of his family.
I say this because most fathers in our nation have signed up for the rat race of social and economic empowerment. I sincerely empathize because being a father in our third world nation and considering our political and socio-economic peculiarities, makes it a difficult responsibility. Society is unforgiving, regardless of a man’s moral values, if he is not
economically correct and so men are buffeted by varied pressures and demands.
We can’t blame the men because some of our antecedents didn’t lead any better. We are just hapless victims of own upbringing. Despite this ugly scenario, I still believe today’s fathers can turn the tides around and take responsibility for becoming a positive precedent in responsible fatherhood. They can become the heroes whose memories our children, family and society at large can be eternally grateful for.
In 2014, we must ask this pertinent question as fathers – what legacy do we want to leave with this world in desperate need of true heroes? A Ghanaian proverb is instructive here, “The ruin of a nation is in the homes of its people”. The life of a man is incomplete if he accepts the responsibility to be a father and discount the responsibility to be a decent, loving and available one.
I will conclude today with Mandela’s admonition, “To be the father of a nation is a great honour but to be the father of a family is a greater joy but it was a joy I had far little of.” For the much celebrated Mandela to call absentee fatherhood a regret is very instructive and a priceless lesson to prevent today’s fathers from making the same mistakes.