The African Fada is comedic relief for many people today due to the greatness of the interwebs. One of my favorite comedians that delivers life with an African Fada is Godfrey. (Side Note: Fada is Father, with the accent of my father applied.) When I tell my friends stories now about what I believe are regular conversations with my parents, they laugh to the point of asthma attacks, however I can attest that at one point in time, there was nothing funny about the African Fada.
My Dad is the epitome of The African Fada. The epitome. Growing up, I could not stand him. I felt that he was my personal enemy of progress. Social progress that is. His goal was to figure out how to keep me from greatness among social circles at school and pursue the greatness of an education. I could not go anywhere without his personal stamp of approval which meant chauffeuring me when he wants to and picking me up when he is ready… if he agrees to me going. I had less than 5 friends (because most classmates were thinking…um your life sucks; I’ve heard about your Dad), and he had to know all of their parents and feel good about the parents. Seriously, he evaluated and shaded everybody without missing a beat.
The Master of Petty
I remember in middle school how my phone usage was monitored with a fine tooth comb. My Dad was so petty that he refused to get call waiting (you didn’t even know that was once an option did you?) because he wanted to know when I was on the phone after school. He would call the operator to interrupt the line, just to put the fear of God in me. Once that interruption happened, I knew that if I didn’t have the most legitimate reason for being on the phone, trouble for me! Thank God for my Grandma. I would quickly hang up and dial one of my Grandma’s friends so that when he called back, she was on the phone, not me. Oh yes, I became gangsta with it. I’m not getting grounded today! I will watch The Cosby Show & A Different World tonight! My Mom finally got pissed about the petty and called and added the call waiting and three-way call feature. I literally did a baptist praise dance that day, and I was raised Catholic. Go figure. The stories of my African Fada Petty Chronicles could go on and on, but I’ll save that for my book.
With all of his petty ways, and tough shade, the one thing that I know now is how amazing his method in fathering me truly is. My skin is soft at the touch (Shea Buttah Goddess), but I am such a thick-skinned individual, because of my African Fada. I was raised on brutal honesty. My nickname was ugly duckling. Yep. He would say it, and cackle. I would just look at him and ask God to be reunited with my real Dad. Now that I am a Swan, I laugh. My Dad knew what he was doing. He did not want me to know that I was pretty. He only wanted me to focus on being smart and doing whatever I could do to become more smart.
Outside. There is nothing for you outside today. Go upstairs and read your books! – The African Fada
Today, I make bookmarks. See? He shopped for me with the intention of making me look as unattractive to boys and young men as much as possible… and it worked. I was a tomboy because of my wardrobe, thanks to my African Fada. Everything was big and baggy. Luckily, so was Hip Hop in the 90s, so I managed to get by without looking extremely odd. I also kept all of my mom’s stubs of eyeliner. Bold eyes and glossy lips allowed me to stay in stealth mode as I walked through the halls of school. I was not a “cool kid” but I was smart and I had a great smile. I survived. Now… I am a fashion curator. Sigh. Deep Sigh.
The Culture Clash
The cultural clashes between my Dad and I were Game of Thrones epic, and I spent a lot of years being bitter. He made a few big mistakes with me. He thought that dictating what he wanted for me in my life without considering what I wanted would work in my adulthood. It didn’t. At all. We spent a several years without communicating… at all. He alienated me from the family because he hated my boyfriend (he wasn’t African enough or educated enough), he wanted my educational plan executed according to his standard, otherwise I should not speak to him. It was a lot. As his first born, I picked up his stubbornness and I went toe to toe with him, which was a HUGE taboo in the community. Family meetings. Family lectures from Uncles and Aunties. A lot of tears. A lot of yelling matches. A lot of silence. I hated my African Fada.
The Night That it All Changed
Two years ago, while going through the process of moving out of state and prepping my house for my absence, I met with my contractor and found out that I had termites living in the basement wood panels
without paying me rent. I couldn’t believe it. I just upgraded my carpet. My roof was just fixed for a pretty penny. Painting. I thought I was done. Now I need to gut out my basement!? I’m soooooo damn exhausted… and broke. That evening, I was talking to a friend of mine about my issues with the house and he asked what my Dad was going to do. I responded, nothing. He does nothing. We don’t really talk. He gasped.
Friend: No way. You asked your Dad for help and he said no?
Me: Well, no. I didn’t ask him. He’s so controlling and I just don’t want to deal with his …
Friend: Wait a minute. Let me tell you something. You may have your issues with him, and I don’t know him. But knowing what I know about you, if you ask your Dad for help, he’s not going to tell you no. I have a friend who allowed her previous issues with her Dad to keep her from communicating with him, and when he died, she nearly died from regret and heartbreak. Don’t be like her. Call him. Ask him. Let him tell you no.
And so… I went home. I tried to sleep, and just kept crying because I was so frustrated and afraid that I would not be able to achieve my moving goal due to this new setback with my house. So, I called my Dad. My African Fada. I called him. It was almost 11pm. He answered immediately and I just started crying and yelling. And then…he cried. And then I apologized. And then he apologized. And then we talked to each other, not at each other. And we put together a plan to handle my basement. He had me back.
And my life changed. And so did his. In the moment, we were both adults and we grew.
We finally let all of the hurt feelings go. We set aside the pride of wanting to be right. We let the bitterness from the past go. We let those salty tears be the last time that we would yell at each other and get upset with each other. We let it go and we allowed God to enter into our relationship.
Since then, my African Fada is my guy. He’s still ridiculous, but I have grown to appreciate him for who he is and what he is to me. In Sierra Leone, there isn’t a Father’s Day or a Mother’s Day. Parents are held to such a high regard everyday, they don’t need a holiday over there. America can be a tricky place to foreigners, especially when it comes to trying to stay true to your culture and raise your kids with your culture in such a melting pot. Moreover, it’s hard to be a black man in this country. Imagine being a black man who is foreign to this country and it’s evolving culture, so different and liberal from your own. Imagine dealing with racism and prejudice attitudes from all kinds of people, including some that resemble you. Imagine repeating yourself multiple times per day because you have an accent that people can’t seem to understand, even though your knowledge of the English language surpasses their own. Imagine earning an income that must support your family in the United States, and your family members in your home country, even though you will be the last to be promoted, even if you should be the first to be considered due to your hard work and educational achievements. Imagine all of that and more as your daily burden as you drive through rush hour listening to NPR because you must know what is happening around the world before you get home to watch CNN. As you enter the door and look at the new bills that have arrived in the mail, you come home and the daughter is inquisitive, witty, bold, confident, and cleaver and is trying to get you to say yes to her request, because she just wants to be cool. She also wants money. Then multiply that daughter times three.
With Love- Miss GK
This is an Ode to the African Fada. Not just for Father’s Day. Everyday. If you have an African Fada, raise your hand with a comment. I bet you have stories for days…