I have never lived with my dad or exactly known what the man who fathered me looks like. I don’t know how he behaves when angry or happy, how he acts when he arrives home with a baggage of problems from the office, or whether he would be violent with both the children and wife. I have heard rumors about him, though, that he was a jolly good fellow with a broad smile like mine, a hard worker and loving as he was gregarious. I long to meet him one day.
Fathers come in different forms. Some dads help children with homework, teach them bike riding, take them on their first boat ride, and even give them the first driving lessons. And some wake up one day to see their children are already grown up.
Just last week, I saw a boy go up to the dad, afraid, and timid. He asked his dad for some money to add to the little he had saved so that he could buy a smartphone.
Pleased and touched, the dad told him to continue saving for another project, and the following day, the dad brought him an expensive smartphone! The boy has never had a warm relationship with his dad, but this? This gesture was Godsend!
Now, how do we mourn these mysterious parents when they are gone? Kenyan poet Willie Oeba rings nostalgia and loneliness in his latest piece, ‘Dear Dad.’ Backed by vocals from Tory Lynn of the ‘Wacuka’ hit song among others, the poet touches on the lingering moments with dad. He is political as he is observational.
‘Dear Dad’ is a letter to a father who died when the persona was young. The persona only had his mother, and life wasn’t a bed of roses. There were times they had to use sugar to make water brown to mimic tea.
However, despite the poverty and the missing dad, the persona has made it in life. He performs and has fulfilled his dream of performing alongside Juliani.
But is it all that glory? There is nothing that can fill the void of missing one of the parents. ‘Dear Dad’ reminds us that pain is always there. However, since we cannot turn back the hands of time, we have to let go.
Oeba, reminiscing over the pain of losing his dad, realizes it is time to let go. ‘Dear Dad,’ therefore, is a final message to the man, the persona has never known but would wish to tell him how life was and where life is now.
Hidden within his message is the picture of the brutal Kenyan political system where art is starving. At the same time, political lies thrive, the political conversations around ‘your tribe vs. mine’ are fattened by ignorance and blood of the innocent.
The poem is well packaged. It is rich in pun and rhyme, and Tory’s vocals unleash dancing tears, especially for those who lost their dad.
The track is recorded by Vantage Music and Video produced by Yarida Media.
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