What being a dad means to you?
There’s a saying that goes ‘They don’t do as you say, they do as you do.’ So when I became a dad it pushed me to revisit my belief systems, myself and my behaviour because my son would look up to me for guidance and support. I ask myself a lot of questions about the type of man I want him to be, for example, what am I teaching him about fear and courage? What am I teaching him about how to treat people? For me, being a father is a chance to recalibrate and stretch myself to model behaviour that is positive and progressive in thought and in action.
What lesson have you learnt from your parents that you still cherish today?
To live authentically! My parents kept to themselves and lived a life that was reflective of their family values, and circumstances without trying to impress or show-off. I have taken nuggets from their way of life with my family unit. We really try to keep the personal aspects of our lives out of the public domain and live a private life. I am an incredibly private person, and prefer that the information written or heard about me is used to help someone.
What lesson would you like to impart to your child/ren
I wouldn’t limit something as important as knowledge and value sharing to just my children. It’s important that children know that it’s ok to make mistakes. Similarly with the concept of ‘losing’ or failure is not the end of the world as we have been made to believe. I also believe that should you give it your heart you’re most likely to learn something from the loss. ‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again.’
What’s the best thing about being a dad?
I have the opportunity to relive my childhood vicariously through and with him. He is exploring and everything looks a thousand times more exciting to him. It’s wonderful watching and listening to him use his imagination and re-enact real life scenarios – like, he will come up with strange names for his toys off the top of his head. The best part of it all is the opportunity to be silly and not be judged for it, the opportunity to not overthink situations and just be present and engaged in the moment and watching his face light up with joy as we play.
What advice do you have for other young black dads?
Remember our upbringing and dark past as a country. The circumstance of our past broke family units, leaving many most of in fatherless homes. But with this being said we can tell different stories of how we were raised by other members of the family supporting our parents. There is an important role that we can play, if we can practise positive role modeling as uncles, fathers, and other parental figures. I strongly believe that modeling attributes that are supportive, gentle and protective, showing the right kind of masculinity. Take time to be there right from the beginning, should you fail to be there know that it’s never too late to get back because behaviours can be unlearned. If you did not have the support of your biological father it is important that we try to reverse the cycle and change. I encourage men to show up and be there to raise our children with confidence, love and open minds.
How can you influence other males in your circle and around to become more present?
The people that are around me are not absent from their children, I draw inspiration from them. If I had any issues I would have the best support around me, they are great dads, I have seen how their lives changed when their children came into their lives. I am lucky to be surrounded by solid fathers. My closest guy friends are by far the realest fathers. We not only address being present, but a lot of other important things. Ask yourself would you have loved to have a dad when you were growing up, decide today that it will not be the same for your child. It comes with baggage, it cannot be an easy thing. If you are, then make sure that they don’t go through what you went through. If you’re able to improvise, this would be the best way to see things, be focused, don’t let growing up without a father happen to your child.
Vuyo is part of OMO’s modern dad’s campaign