Like Jesus Christ, most of us are raised by earthly fathers

A man on Twitter has killed himself. Both his wife and side kick gave birth no more than a week ago and, according to subsequent DNA tests, neither of the babies was his biological offspring.

In his last tweet – a swan song – he announced to the world that he had lost both the home and the away fixtures, and that he ought to bring this fruitless life to a grinding halt. And he did. A sachet of Danger Hatari Rat Poison did the magic when he dissolved its powder in a glass of Leading Waragi.

Two weeks back, he was over the moon with joy. He was jumping around like an elderly shark out of water announcing to whoever cared to listen that he would be not just a father, but a ‘Double Wire’ – and that’s the technical term he used to accurately describe a man who simultaneously fathers two babies with different women.

It ended in tears. His paranoia started to manifest when his mother – a prospective grandmother – looked at the feet of one of the neonates and breathed with a tinge of confidence, “this baby is not yours.” A committee of women chaired by one of his paternal aunties reported the same findings when they carefully observed both neonates. The babies are not yours, they assured him. The DNA test results only confirmed his fears.

In 2007 when I was still the height of a bucket, a senior choir master at a church in my village hanged himself on the thickest branch of a mango tree in his compound. My memory could be cloudy but I remember that it was the month of January; for isn’t that the time of the year when mango trees are weighed down by ripe fruit? Isn’t that the time of the year when Makerere University churns out a collocation of successful degree holders? Isn’t that the time of the year when a man called Bukenya who once occupied a certain office in UNEB would release PLE results?

The PLE results had been freshly released and our choir master’s son had posted a good first grade; aggregate 6. His daughter was graduating from Makerere and it’s at her solemnization that her mother decided to break the news to him that he was not the biological father of any of their children.

This news hit him harder than a whirlwind. He sipped at his bottle of Senator Extra Lager in silence and did not say anything to anyone. The following morning, he was hanging like another mango in the tree – his mouth agape, his head tilted to one side.

At his send-off, a verse from the Bible (and I don’t know the verse) was read. Happiness is elusive, the catechist said, firmly clutching a black Bible to his chest. Then he intoned a song, “Mary Loving Mother” and the rest of the mourners sang along with palpable dullness as he broke down to tears.

In one of my favorite Kadongo-kamu songs, the late Herman Basude sings:

“Gwe akyalina nyoko digida ng’omanyi,

Kitawo enkeera osanga Cosma,

Ki ky’olikola nga nyoko amukwolese

Nti nze oyo gwe mmanyi sso si Petero……”

This can loosely be translated as, “Be careful if your mother still lives; for tomorrow, you can wake up and she intimates to you that your real father is a random Cosma, and not the Petero you’ve always known.”

Fatherhood can be a tricky, risky project. I see men showing off babies and calling them their own offspring and I just laugh. How can a man in his right senses convince himself that he is a father? I don’t know if anyone itches to learn this, but I have been in the medical profession long enough to know that even women do not always know who the actual fathers of their children are. A heavily pregnant woman will come and whisper to you, “Musawo, do not tell my husband the actual gestation age; the baby might not be his.” But the man, in blissful ignorance, will protect her the way chicken protect their brittle eggs and wait patiently for the unborn child to arrive.

A feminist friend of mine argues that fatherhood has nothing to do with who deposited the semen; that it’s about who has been a father figure in the life of a child. How pathetic, I always think. Does she have any idea about how jealous a man can be when he learns that his prized wife jumped into a stranger’s bed and that’s just how one of their children came into existence?

But what can we do? We’re living at a time when women hop from one bed to another, naked, and at the end of the day, neither they nor we know who really fathered us. Sooner or later, we shall learn that our fathers played no role in our existence. We shall learn that, like Jesus Christ, they’re nothing but earthly projects. Our real biological fathers might be somewhere going about the banality of life, unaware of our existence.

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Written by Daniel Kakuru (1)

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