FATHERS OBEY…, By Dorcas Sanni Ojelabi

When the mother transits perhaps the highest that can happen to the children is to die from food starvation or maltreatment from new step mothers but with the death of a father, children born into glory are stripped off their powers into a life of penury.”


On a bright sunny morning in the month of June while bathing my less than two months old baby, an unknown number was trying to reach me on my mobile phone. I couldn’t answer immediately because my hands were still wet but the caller seemed persistent; when I finally picked the call, the caller introduced herself as Mrs. Effiong (not real name).

She was the wife of a close and senior colleague in my place of work; before she called her husband Mr. Bright Effiong had been sick and had gone on a sick leave weeks before i applied for maternity leave. Having no other contact with her even though she visited the office regularly she put a call to me that morning only to inform me that her husband had passed.

Confused and staring at my baby as if soothing answers to the shock of the devastating news would emanate from his mouth; bewildered I removed my phone from my ear to check the caller’s name again as if it had displayed any before. Though very certain that was the voice of Mrs. Effiong I asked again, “Please who is on the line and who did you say is dead?” This time around she replied more soberly and I could sense the pain in her voice, “Aunty Dorcas, this is Effiong’s wife and it is true Effiong is dead, he died two days ago….”

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A month later I resumed to the office only to see Mr. Effiong’s relative repeating visits to the office in the name of getting his entitlements/benefits. Mrs. Effiong herself showed up after the mourning period and gave an account of how Effiong’s family had been fighting her and her children tooth and nail over late Effiong’s properties. Sharing her woman to woman experience with me, she kept asking rhetorically “…where were Effiong’s family when they were both struggling to make ends meet only to show up and claim they are upholding tradition!”

Much later we did an analysis of the factors that contributed to his death; Mrs Effiong related how many times he had fallen sick but going to the hospital was never an option rather he will seek alternatives. As she narrated I remembered instances I had seen him unwell and jokingly I will tease him “…you don de take agbo again instead make you go hospital abi”. He will reply “how many men you see wey de use their clear eye go hospital? wey time? wey money? With all this bills wey no finish? No be only hospital na medical….”

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With no intention to slight the Effiong’s this brings me to the submission of Akin Oyejoko a senior medical doctor whose experience spanned many years at government and private hospitals in Nigeria. According to him (as reported by Ayobami Adedinni and published on Platforms Africa) ‘Men don’t walk in, they’re mostly carried to hospital when it is too late”. For Oyejoko, the macho man in men thinks it is rather belittling and unmanly to be seen always visiting the hospital and thus by the time they are brought in it is almost always too late.
If I may add to the submission that African men give better attention to their wealth than their health; I would rather postulate that African men give better attention to necessities than health issues that has not manifested or give warning signs. In as much as I want to believe it’s the macho man syndrome that forms the believe that they are too gallant to fall but a deeper look at the rationale behind an African man rejecting hospital check shows it is rather a deeper love to meet family obligations.


It is a different case with men who have ‘arrived’ but having no time to spare for health check. For men struggling to make ends meet, I want to believe that deep down these men knows the essence of a medical check up no matter how illiterate they may be but meeting the ever rising needs of beloved family members seems a preferred option.
A man who toils day and night amassing frequent headaches or body pain yet seeking relief in very cheap paracetamol ‘ain’t’ dumb but to them, family responsibilities comes first. Like late Effiong who says going to the hospital is not beneficial but how do you take money from a meagre income that is not even sufficient to seek medical care when an ordinary pain reliever tablet can bring (temporal) relief.
For such men going to the hospital is not even the problem but getting there and be told to do a test, scan or x-ray at an exorbitant price. Many would rather do self medication or resort to herbal care; the belief is that if you get to the hospital, one maybe diagnosed with a disease that you don’t even have especially now that we have trending videos that medical facilities in Nigeria are nothing compared to that of the western world.

So our ever loving father would rather face the home front than die from the fear of a (false) diagnosed ailment or disease. In as much as that is true even for both genders we should not forget that the fear of death has never prevented a war. The fear that we may die from the knowledge of an ailment we are not sure we have has not stopped many from dying from diseases that could have been cured if detected on time.

Yes we love our family; we ‘wanna’ pay the bills so we are not disconnected from power supply. Fathers want to meet up with paying school fees so the family does not become an object of mockery when the children are sent out of school s because of unpaid fees. Working with a brother in-law gives me a deeper insight of a father’s love. No matter the money he makes, Tishe’s diaper and the need of his wife comes first and not for once have I seen him set money aside to go enjoy himself or put on the latest fabric so as to move with trend; though not against the hospital idea but for him it is family first. Except for epicureans so great is a father’s love that men hardly think about themselves. Uneasy lies your head in an economy that is no longer promising yet you want to put three square meals on our table at the DETRIMENT OF YOUR OWN HEALTH.!

Dear father this is the message, have you taken a look around and see the plights of widows in the neighbourhood?; or the plights of your precious children if not your beloved wife? When the mother transits perhaps the highest that can happen to the children is to die from food starvation or maltreatment from new step mothers but with the death of a father children born into glory are stripped off their powers into a life of penury. With properties like houses taken away from mother and children they fall from grace to grass! These children never get balanced in life again as many will have to resort to crimes or brothels to feel the life they once lived. Do you have the least imagination of what happens when the head of the family transits? The pillar! The decision maker! The family’s shield!! The bread winner!!! Probably you don’t but let’s refresh your memory!

In my former office a junior male colleague had asked for permission to close from work early. Giving reasons he explained he lost one of his kinsmen a week ago and tradition demands him and other young men to visit the deceased house so as to share his belongings.

At the mention of sharing belongings I asked “is he without a child? He replied that he had children but they were still young. That infuriated me and I asked further “Is it tradition that helped him acquire all he had? This time he didn’t reply and that got me angrier as I went on to ask if the wife was incapable of making that decision. Then I asked him ‘how would you feel if this was done to your wife knowing that your children are also young?’That got him irritated too as he quickly replied that he will not die young in Jesus name! It was as if he had pressed my red button; I didn’t back out so I continued reminding him that from his explanation the late man would probably have survived if he had checked into a hospital earlier and ended by telling him the deceased also never planned to die that young.

This is just one out of the many horrible experiences that widows encounter and yes not all men die from failure to visit a doctor but in a biting economy like ours that is making our bread winners burn all ends so the family can keep moving we can only but ask our earthly pillars to pay more attention to their health. The rate at which many fathers are burning energies now ‘ain’t’ the same with the way our fore fathers burned it, I mean a long time ago when the economy had not fallen into the hands of nation sinkers. When it is a case of the child falling sick, majority of our fathers will never oppose the child being treated in a hospital even if it means they will borrow to pay the bills but when it gets to the turn of our dear father, they remind the family that it is just that common headache and that it will soon disappear!

Believe me dear surviving fathers; from my service at the Administrative department of my last place of work I have come to understand no woman plans to be a widow! Life just happens to their dear fathers who believed they are too ‘macho’ to fall. I miss late Effiong, I have seen my neighbour losing her husband and my dear sister Kate just lost one of her two children because no family member is paying her attention since she lost her husband. Go listen to widows on life without their bread winners and you will realise women do have a cause to voice out. A wise man who sees his brother’s beards catching fire quickly puts water in his. Those of us still with spouse can only cry out that our surviving fathers comply so they don’t catch the fire of death.

Of course we know your deeper love to meet the insatiable needs of the family is the driving force but we need you take a deeper reflect of life without fathers! Not that the female folks especially mothers are innocent when it comes to consulting medical doctors but tradition or culture suddenly turn deaf and dumb on sharing of properties when a man becomes a widower; the more reason you should do all it takes to stay alive. Yes remaining alive is by the grace of God but keeping fit is a duty we should not expect Him to come perform on our behalf.

While putting up this write up I sampled the opinion of men, when i asked “ when was the last time you visited the hospital, many had replied “hospital bawo”? One said “May i not see what will take me to the hospital” and another replied “my destiny does not agree with hospitals, so I don’t go there! That reminds me of my mother, you will have to consult the gods to even mention hospital to her; she would rather remind you that she is already old and you should mind your business!

There are many good fathers but thousands in their grave! Men who have fallen so their family don’t fall but we would rather have them alive doing the best that won’t take their lives than watching them dropping dead for our unlimited needs! We recognise and appreciate past effort but we don’t want the fathers still standing to drop dead. On a father’s day like this we don’t want to dole out wishes to departed fathers in their sepulchre (apologies to those who have lost spouse/fathers) but to surviving men who have given everything to keep the family standing. From the female folks we salute the effort of all our bread winners whether or not we complement; the truth is we thank God we have you by our side.
As we hail thee we want you to imagine a life without you, God forbid is the answer that comes readily to mind. Yes God forbid but try to forbid the idea of not doing a check especially when you are feeling stressed or fatigued and please don’t say no whenever we bring up the hospital idea. No Clinic has paid me to do this neither do i have an anti-hospital spouse but generally (probably because we are number two in the family) it has not always been easy to beg, convince, cajole or compel our number one to go to the hospital but we need you to comply. It is the reason we are using this auspicious platform on a memorable day like this to say FATHERS (PLEASE) OBEY and to wish you a Happy Father’s Day!
Dorcas Sanni Ojelabi (Alagatosoji MC DSO) currently the Secretary to the Elegboro of Egboro kingdom, Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.

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