My Dad and I
By Lightness Mtaita ~ Senior Project Coordinator at Empower on 10 Jun 2020Parenting
My dad is awesome, I just thought I should get that out of the way before I start pouring my heart out in this article. I often wished I could loan him out to other people just so they could have a glimpse of how amazing he is, and how he embodies and wears this “dad” role so well.
I am my father’s daughter, from when I was knitted in my mother’s womb to when I popped out and took my first breath, I was a spitting image of my father. I have him to thank for my large forehead, the only thing my mom can claim from my face is my nose. I am not too sure but I am guessing this is where our bond began, imagine having to hold this 2.8kilo baby in your arms and feel like you were looking in the mirror. From the day he held me in his hands, we were inseparable, I was my father’s handbag, I wanted to go everywhere with him when I was younger, what am I saying, if we were in the same country now I am sure I would do the same.
His wife, yes my mom, often calls us best friends, and yes I can claim this to some extent because my dad and I are super tight. He is a principled and honorable father, I trust him so much, to the point of questioning the accuracy of technology. Let me explain; one time he traveled and left me and my sister alone in the house for about 40 days. He told me he had paid for DSTV for the entire time that he would be gone; of course, he did, my dad is the kind of dad who ensures no one else worries about the bills but him, and he always had everything paid on time, my fees, my pocket money, the electricity, the internet, yes even DSTV. I cannot think of any time that any of those ran out, it was almost like magic. So obviously in this instance when my dad told me that he had paid for DSTV, I was certain he had. A week into his travel, the decoder shows that annoying message “this channel is not available, blah blah blah. I picked up my phone and called DSTV to figure out what transpired, and question their technology at the same time. They checked the account and told me that there is no money and no payment had been made, to which I replied “there must be a problem with your system, check again, you must be mistaken, because my dad said he paid”; and so the young gentlemen checked again. In hindsight, I am sure he just looked outside the window or checked his WhatsApp and then just told me the same thing. I called my dad and he called his bank (he had swiped his card for payment), and they informed him that DSTV was no longer receiving bank transfers, as they took forever, because of the many things that had gone wrong with the Zimbabwean economy then. As a solution, he told me to use the emergency money he had left to pay, and that he would replace it, because yes this was an emergency. The bottom line is when my dad says he will do something, he will, and to this day, I trust him entirely to come through on his word.
My dad is a Senior Lecturer, meaning his students have to hear so many stories of my sister and I. I know that there are thousands of graduates out there who know of me but have never met me. For my dad, family always comes first. I went to the same university he taught, and whenever I went to his office and someone else was in there, he would say, “my daughter is here can you give me a second”, or “karibu mwanangu, just take a seat, I will be with you shortly”. Nothing was more important than me, okay maybe senate meetings. Lol. But even those I managed to interrupt once. I was home alone, felt dizzy, fell, hit my head and had a semi concussion, meaning I got up and didn't know why I was at home and not at school, and forgot a whole 24 hours of my life; it scared me that I kept repeating myself. I called my dad while he was in the famous senate meeting, crying like a baby. I swear it was like, “now you don't see him, now you do”, it felt like seconds after, he was home. I remember him telling me, " I felt sorry for any policeman that would stop me on the way", thank God, none of them did. He took me to the hospital, after which an ambulance arrived at our house since I had also called my close friend and person Paida who was in another city, and this was her grand solution, call an ambulance and call Africa University and tell my dad to leave the meeting. Everything worked together perfectly in the end, many tears later. Of course, I am fine, I mean I am writing this article so I guess my brain is fine, right? Or is it? The point is, with my dad, I know, I always come first, no matter what.
Mr. Mtaita (yes I call him that at times) is a loving dad, I can never think of a moment when I ever doubted that. Alright maybe once, when I climbed on top of a bus and called out “baba" in excitement when he came back from work because in my wisdom or rather none of it, I thought he would be proud of my climbing skills; I was 4 or 5 years old. When I say on top of a bus, I mean exactly that, you know where they usually place excess luggage, yes, right there. He asked me to get down and flogged me and my mister, because where was she when I was busy risking my life? Anyone with an African father can relate, how the older one always gets into trouble for the younger one’s mischief, this is probably the reason why my sister is extremely responsible, the best sister ever. Anyway, back to my dad, he taught me how not to be angry for a long time, because immediately after he did not spare the rod, he would ask me to make some tea for him and then proceed to inquire about my day or tell me about his, as if nothing happened. My dad is the kind you would run to when he came back from work, the kind of dad who would walk me to Primary school every morning even though school was two minutes away, just to make sure I was safe. The kind of dad who would drive two and a half hours out of town to get me from Secondary School when it closed, and take me back when it opened, even though there was a school bus. The kind of dad who would just decide one Saturday afternoon to visit me at boarding school (visitors when only allowed on visiting day which was once a term), just because he missed me or had to drop off a Math textbook I forgot at home. I told you, my dad and I are super tight.
I was not the only one who thought my dad to be loving. In addition to being a lecturer, he also oversees the scholarship funds that the university receives. This is a very tough job, I could see it taking a toll on him even to this day because there are numerous people in need and one can only assist a few. That being said, his fans were not only his students but also the ones he assigned scholarships to. The university is multinational, meaning students enrolled from all over Africa, hence the name “Africa University”. One time I was looking for an empty classroom to study in, I walked in on the Congolese community in their prayer time. They were praying in Swahili so I understood. At the time, I walked in, they were praying for my father, praying for his well being, praying for God to bless him, I cannot describe the feeling I had, it was amazing. That was not the only time this happened, one time a friend of mine who was mentoring a first-year student, told me that when she asked this individual for any prayer requests she may have, she said, “I would like us to pray for Mr. Mtaita”. Again, I had a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart, because I realized, he was not only my dad, but he took the liberty of being a dad to so many other people at the university. I would hear stories of him giving students lunch money who could not afford meals, or his clothes when he noticed students coming to his office with the same outfit. My father taught me to be generous and loving to the community around me, but even then, in his niceness, all the boys knew never to mess with me because I was “Mr. Mtaita’s daughter”.
I cherish the random chats we have. Once he said to me “mwanangu, my one true goal in life is to make you kids and your mother happy”. My father raised a smart girl, meaning I always brought this up when I wanted a new expensive dress or a large birthday party, “you said you wanted us to be happy, this will make me happy”. I am sure there were moments when he regretted telling me that. My father thinks the world of me, he believes I can do anything, he is my number one fan. One time there was a worldwide entrepreneurial competition, where the winning business idea would get a large sum of money. My dad told me to apply, and I said to him “dad what kind of idea could I come up with, it's a worldwide competition”. To which he replied, “mwanangu you underestimate yourself, you can do anything you put your mind to”. There was a long moment of silence where a tear fell down my cheek, thinking, wow, what a dad! Although I never competed in the competition, every day I feel like giving up, or I think a task is too hard for me to tackle, I remember my father’s words.
After God, he is the first man that loved me, and I could fill a series of books with stories about my daddy. He is the true definition of a father, he keeps his word, he loves me, always puts me first, makes it his life’s mission to make me happy, and always reminds me of my potential. I could never ask for a better dad. I love you daddy, and my prayer is when I am blessed with a husband, that he may be as good a dad to my future kids as you are to me. May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and cause His face to shine upon you, because only He can repay you, for how good you have been to me.
Fathers, we appreciate you and the hard work you put in to make sure we grow up as honorable men and women; shout out to all the dads out there, we love you, and this article is to let you know that we see you!
By Lightness Mtaita ~ Senior Project Coordinator at Empower