To My Daughter Zoey Mamganga…
You have questions on a daily to every aspect of your life; why is life not fair, what could happen to you next, who are you? Why exactly are you reading this article? I know you’re laughing. Cute!
When I tell people around me of my insecurities and flaws, they all laugh and walk away. It’s been now 30 years into my existence that I still feel shy, extremely lost, anxious, purposeless when so much of my expectations and aspirations are yet to materialize.
However, with the little experience gained over these years, from work, family, friends, goals and personal progress, nothing makes me more excited, blessed, paranoid and extremely optimistic as the birth of my daughter; Yes! I’m a new father/ daddy or as I was thought to say papa.
My father spoke of how much of a blessing and inspiration my birth was to him in his early thirties, there were so many mystical occurrences as I grew, an example of such was when I was a few months old, my parents took me to my grandmother living some hundred kilometers from big city of Yaoundé, once a year this was their routine. This trip was different as I was told, I guess because they had me a “SON” bare in mind my parents are extremely religious/prayerful which played a huge role in my survival through life.
As the days went by, I was introduced to the relatives, who were thrilled to have me around, I barely can remember any of it all yet as tale has it; on this faithful evening a day before my parents returned to the city, my father strolled with me in the yard as my mother helped our my grandma and the rest of the aunts prepared dinner. In the mist of the rounds by the house, my father spotted a bench under a shed by one of the houses which was usually occupied by the men of the village, with its comfortable looking state, my father enticed by the cozy space sat there for a few minutes until as he explained, there was something that asked him to leave where he was ASAP, as he did, walking a few steps away from the shed, a huge snake fell off the roof to were he sat then came the entire roof crumbling down as if someone broke the poles, it just makes no-sense to this day. What would have come of me if my father hadn’t listened to his conscience?
The are numerous unexplainable stories surrounding my childhood, my mysterious illness that was only threatened by blue stones my grandmother brought over after my parents had visited all hospitals to no avail etc etc. As the eldest, a boy, in an African home, my existence was celebrated as the heir. The perception associated with birth of a male child going as far back as the pharaoh days when girls were thrown in the river and boys were welcome as a sign of progress and prosperity. This isn’t the case with my bouncing baby or any girl born now, she’s cheered and is said to be good luck for her father.
However, the expecting of my princess was life changing.I, for the first time drove for 6 hours (5 times) to Dakar by road from Gambia to make sure she got the best of care. As she encountered minor complications at birth, it hurt me I couldn’t be next to her to sing to little soul that “everything is going to be alright”. On the 26th June at 6:26am she took her first breath, I cried, I still can’t explain why I did, but it broke me. I must confess I called my father who hadn’t heard me cry over 2 decades, but he told me you’re in charge now, theoretically I’m yet to get it.
Yet, Zoey has brought me life, endless opportunities, protecting, valor, and a sense of hope for all life may throw at me. As I watch her sleep, hear her cry as she wakes and request for food, grow into a gorgeous melanin piece of God’s creation, I want to give her all I’ve got; my love, home, time, attention, passion, talent, advice, support, something I wish my parents gave me. Despite the savagery, bitterness, cruelty, toughness and loneliness of this world, I want her to feel safe, optimistic, prayerful, goal driven, kind and selfless as I strive to be her biggest fan, a feminist, friend, role model, father with time as the meaning of her beautiful African name “Mamganga” – be her problem solver.