First celebrated in West Virginia, U.S.A following the proposal by Grace Golden, daughter of a dedicated reverend, that a special Sunday service be held in honour of men (hundreds of them) who died in a mining accident on 5th July 1908; a number of events would later usher in its prominence as a special day in the United States and across the world.
Most prominent among these events is 37th US President, Richard Nixon‘s signed declaration in 1972; which contributed to making Father’s Day celebration every year on the third Sunday of June very popular in the country. Globally also, it is becoming popular to celebrate Father’s Day on this date annually, and Nigeria is usually not left out.
Interestingly, in recent times, the build up to Father’s day in Nigeria comes with high expectations; especially among many men who see it as a rare opportunity to be celebrated by their families, colleagues and loved ones. An expectation that is further intensified by an emerging culture that hands women multiple celebration under various ‘tags,’ compared to their male counterparts very rampant.
From the popular Women’s history month, the adopted Mother’s Day of the United States as well as the United Kingdom to the less popular Mothering Sunday and International Women’s Day; there are almost a dozen opportunities to celebrate women in Nigeria. The accompanying reaction is that a lot of men now jealously guard their ‘only’ celebration to ensure it lives up to their true desires.
As with previous years, this phenomenon presented another opportunity for debates between both genders as some popular single mothers took to their social media pages to congratulate themselves for ‘playing the role of fathers in the lives of their children.’ From Nollywood actors, Tonto Dike and Mercy Aigbe to singer, Aituaje ‘Waje’ Iruobe and reality TV star, Tokunbo ‘TBoss’ Idowu, diverse reactions trailed their Father’s Day posts.
For many, it amounted to a deliberate attempt by women to steal attention from the male gender, while others saw nothing wrong with it. A third group of social media audience however, saw it as another observation of an annual controversy ritual by actors, Tonto and Mercy Aigbe, aimed at taking a pound of flesh from their estranged spouses.
Of note, for singer Waje, who faced massive criticisms on Facebook; being a father has nothing to do with gender but responsibility, stressing that she is proud of her capacity to play both roles.
“Fatherhood isn’t about gender, it is about roles, fatherhood isn’t about donating sperm, it is about roles, motherhood isn’t about gender, it is about roles, I know people (men) who are much better mothers than mothers themselves. So darling I am not dragging anything, I am only proud that I can share these experiences with my daughter and that God gave me the capacity to do both,” she said.
There is truly no doubt that each debating side would find points to defend their stance on the who should and who shouldn’t be celebrated on Father’s Day. It is important however, that the true essence of the celebration is not lost in this annual gender war.
“Father’s Day is celebrated to recognise the unique role of fathers or father figures in families, and in society at large. From supporting their children financially, mentally, emotionally and physically, the pivotal role of fathers in everyone’s life is priceless.”
While it is necessary to point that some fathers have been anything but supportive; taking flight and abandoning parenting to single mothers, the day can also be seized as an important opportunity to draw attention to the essence of fatherhood and the importance of being present as fathers. Albeit, in the most respectful manner because of the original intention for setting the day aside.
Kudos to all the women playing incredible roles as single parents (irrespective of their circumstances), but we have to accept that a mother is no substitute for a father and vice versa. We should therefore, all live up to our responsibilities in parenting to make the world a better place.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.