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30.11.2009 Feature Article

Where are the fathers?

Where are the fathers?
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FIRST OF all, I must apologise to Mr. Fritz Baffour, Honourable Member of Parliament.

In my article on the visit of President Barrack Obama to Ghana, I wondered why Mr. Baffour had apparently taken over the duties of the official tour guide at the Cape Coast Castle.

On Saturday, November 21, 2009, Mr. Baffour and I met at the Speech and Prize-Giving Day celebration of the KNUST Senior High School (formerly Technology Secondary School).

Mr. Baffour explained to me that he never imposed himself, and that it was the Americans who had specifically asked for him to conduct them round.

I am sorry for whatever embarrassment my comment might have caused him.

My attention has also been drawn to the fact that the person who was Editor of the DAILY GRAPHIC, when the paper published on its front page the picture of a military plane crash was Mr. Elvis Aryeh, and NOT Mr. Sam Clegg. Once more, I say I am sorry for the inconvenience to Mr. Clegg. Now, to the topic for the week.

The other day, I disagreed with the Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, Madam Akua Sena Dansua, when she criticised advertisers for the perceived negative portrayal of women. I sincerely thought that her strictures were misdirected.

Today, I share her reported criticism of those men who continue to show irresponsibility in their relations with women. There are several examples.

You will recall the times when the hospitals had to detain mothers who had had babies in the hospital for non-payment of hospital bills.

Good Samaritans would pay the bills so that the women could go home with their babies. These days, with free deliveries, the phenomena seem to have disappeared. I used to observe that while a woman could fall ill without the help of any human agency, no woman could get pregnant without engaging in sex with a male.

Where were the men who fathered the children? Why were they behaving like the domestic cock that fertilised the eggs of the domestic hen, and never bothered about the chicks hatched subsequently?

You will also have noticed the new phenomenon in which in almost nine out of ten cases, a mother comes forward with a tearful, heart-rending plea for financial assistance, so that her child can undergo medical treatment for one kind of life-threatening ailment or the other.

Here and there, a father might join the Mother, but that has always been rare. Whenever I have watched the television stations air the plea of such mothers, and have even opened a bank account to receive funds on behalf of the poor child, I have asked, “But where is the father?”

I can understand it if the child's father is dead. I can understand it if the cost of treatment is way beyond the financial means of the father. In almost all the cases where the father is not seen, the mother hardly states whether the father is dead, or even if the couple no longer live together as man and wife because of the a divorce. Almost invariably, the appeal touches the hearts of benevolent individuals (sometimes foreigners) and organisations. The poor child has the required treatment, and a grateful mother once again uses the medium of television, this time, to thank the benefactors.

Male human beings fathered those children. Sometimes, a father simply deserts the wife because she has triplets to add to the existing brood of eight children. Sometimes, the father rejects a child deformed in some way, and leaves the mother alone to cope.

Some men do not mind sleeping with mentally-ill women or women with a physical deformity under the cover of darkness, only for them to refuse to accept responsibility for the subsequent pregnancy. They feel too ashamed to face in broad daylight, the result of their nocturnal activities.

Those physically challenged mothers using their children to beg, were surely impregnated by male human beings, and not by spirits from another world. There are, of course, married men who, confronted with the hard fact of pregnancy of the girl friend, panic and may refuse paternity.

This girl may abort the pregnancy, or have the baby, only to dump it secretly, or bring up the child under extremely difficult conditions.

Because it takes both the mother and the father to bring up a child, fatherless children can, in some cases, pose problems for society, through deviant behaviour. To be sure, there have been success stories with one-parent upbringing, but the ideal and the desirable, will always be the provision of a home in which mother and father play complementary roles in bringing up the child.

The home is the ultimate foundation of society. The child learns important lessons that should help cope with the demands of society later in life.

Even if we share Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey's dictum that if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation, the role of the father in the upbringing of the child should not be downplayed at all.

In our society, it is the man who starts a family by asking the hand of a woman in marriage. It is the man whose responsibility it is to ensure the security and stability of the family, by providing a home and also providing for the upkeep of the family.

Even in cases of divorce, the man ought to know that the maintenance of the children is part of his primary or fundamental responsibility.

Wayward children shame a father in much the same way as well-brought, well-educated, and hardworking children constitute a joy to the father.

Fathers should realise that when they invest in their children, by bringing them up properly, they (the fathers) are investing in their own future.

As the adage goes, when we help our children to develop teeth in their youth, they will take care of us when our own teeth fall out.

In my old age, what would I have done, but for the five grateful children, my late wife and I brought into the world by the Grace of God?

It is too bad that Ghanaian males are carving for ourselves the unenviable image of irresponsible fathers who refuse to take proper care of children we have fathered, as well as irresponsible husbands, noted for violent attacks on our wives.

Once again I ask, “Where are the fathers?”

Ghanaian Chronicle
Ghanaian Chronicle, © 2009

The author has 1023 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: GhanaianChronicle

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