On this Father’s day weekend

I want to write an ode to that man, my father, my teacher, my friend and my age-mate.

When I was born, or so I am told because I wasn’t there, in the sense of being cognition, my mother was still in college or had to go back to finish her studies and that is where the friendship began. The stories I hear are of him carrying me everywhere and all. I have not seen photos (maybe I should ask him for proof).

He was my teacher in every sense. You see, he taught in the school that I attended (just like mom) and his lessons started with training us on handwriting. Interestingly, my handwriting depending on the weather, has elements from both of them. But this is an appreciation post for dad.

In my repudiation or religion and questioning of cultural mores and norms, my father has been an inspiration. You see, when one an aunt of mine died at home, following the breakdown of her marriage, some of our uncles came and said, according to tradition, she couldn’t be buried in the home. He told them in no uncertain terms that they could wait for their sisters to die and bury them out of the home. His argument being that while my aunt was sick, she was living in the home, how would her death then mean she can’t be in the home and that was the end of the discussion.

On another occasion, on still cultural issues, when some of the villagers made a demand on him that he follows some practices, he told them unequivocally that he wasn’t consulted when these rules were made and as such, he is free to make his own. So yes, we try to make our own. Thanks to that man, my father.

My father has had a interesting relationship with the church. There are times he went regularly and times he seldom went. I can’t fault my parents for giving us religion. I think they had few options open to them given their fathers and grandfathers before had taken them to church, so it was only a matter of course that we too should go to church. Our conversation when I first told him of my atheism was to ask how I was going to teach my younger siblings about morality. To him, religion and morality were intertwined at the hip and it wasn’t possible to have morals and be irreligious, a legacy of Christianity, I think. At this point in time, I think he has made peace with my irreligion and I think he now knows his children and grandchildren need not go to church to be good members of the society, that religion is not the reason we are moral.

My father, he is a good man. The villagers can hardly go to him with gossip. If you are going to tell him so and so said anything about him or somebody else, be ready to say it in the presence of that person. Maybe he believes each person deserves a fair hearing before they are condemned.

Some of the hilarious moments I recall about spending time with my old man was when some fellow kept coming to him for money for tobacco, he told him he would buy him seeds so he has a continuous supply of leaves but this fellow didn’t want to do the hard work of waiting for his tobacco leaves. Or whenever someone inebriated came to see hi, his condition was they had to be in the same state of sobriety before they could have conversation. And this only meant one thing, you have to come back when sober.

Last year, my father threw a party to his friends. It was his 60th birthday and they were happy. For one, they were not going to a friend’s home to pass their last respects but to celebrate the joys of life. Some of my villagers were so happy that an old man (i think he qualifies to be old) can have a birthday party. It was a good time.

I wish him a long life and thank him for being that good man in our (my) lives.

I love him, my father, I do.

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In January 1905, a number of Russians

Made the following petition to the Tsar

  •  the right to vote;
  • freedom of speech, the press, and association;
  • freedom of conscience;
  • separation of Church and state;
  • equality before the law;
  • freedom to form trade unions;
  • the right to strike;
  • an eight-hour working day;
  • insurance benefits; and improved wages.
  • They also demanded an end to the Russo-Japanese War, especially after Russia’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Japanese in 1904

These demands were made by socialists and workers


Something interesting in all radical and revolutionary work is the belief in the working classes to radically transform society for the greater benefit of everyone.

on why it is the environment we should change

In this post, I disagreed with Michelle’s claim, in her very inspiring story, that getting out of poverty is a choice. She has maintained that her story is about America only. Whether that is the case, I leave it for Americans to weigh in.

Shelldigger friend talked of grit. Well there is some research that argues it is the environment that we need to change for most of the people to improve their situation. It doesn’t discount those individual cases of success, but for most people, the environment must be addressed.

On poverty

Not so long ago, I was reading this post by Michele and it got me going back to my notes on urban poverty and I may have a few things to say. But before we dwell on her post, there are few things we should get out of the way.

First, in a paper by ConeXión Mosaico, they write that the way we define poverty and ‘success’ – either implicitly or explicitly – says a lot about our worldview framework and view of cultural change and also influences how we relate to the poor and plays a major role in determining the solutions we use in our attempts to alleviate poverty.

The European commission in 1984 defined the poor as

the poor shall be taken to mean persons, families and groups
of persons whose resources (material, cultural and social)
are so limited as to exclude them from the minimum
acceptable way of life in the Member State in which they
live.

In this paper, the key point they argued was that since poverty is relative, multi-dimensional and changed over time,
“it is scientifically impossible to determine an accurate, uniquely valid poverty line: i.e. a financial threshold below which a person is defined as being poor”.

The point here is, there is a difficulty in defining & measuring poverty and with this difficulty even how to address it becomes a challenge. The World Bank claims to have two goals,

To end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in a sustainable way

but have helped spread poverty in the global south through their policies.

I am not saying Michelle’s family were not poor. Far from me to say that. My problem is with her insistence that being poor or getting out of it is a matter choice. She writes

That’s why I say poverty is a choice. You may not choose how you grow up. But once grown you certainly choose the life you want. You choose your goals and you make the plan on how to achieve.

And while I am happy for her that she and her family have done well for themselves, many poor households do not have much to move on. I mean, they had a car to start with. They could move around. Research also show that children who grow up in households where parents went to school even briefly fare better compared to where no parent has had any schooling.

I also find this

So can we stop blaming our parents, society, schools, and everything else for our current situation and instead make a plan on how to change it.

disagreeable. If you had a crappy education, broke parents and a society that doesn’t give a damn where there are structural barriers that make life a nightmare, one can’t be blamed for their poverty. We as a society will be abdicating our duty to others if this is how we viewed life.

And as I said in the beginning of this post, how we define poverty affects also how response to it.

I don’t think anyone chooses to be poor. And here am not talking about those religious fanatics who go around begging for alms in the nae of forsaking property and material wealth. No. Not those ones.

 

Open comments post

I am presently reading the song of the ankle rings by Eric who sometimes comments here and because it is an interesting book, I will be posting intermittently.

This post is for you to just say whatever you have been meaning to tell me. Like say where you think I have been unreasonable & you felt maybe I would take offence 😁.

Or you can just chat about whatever. I promise to join in.

Fire away, friends.