The secret of life, baba, was your hard work in making me a man I have become. Your actions as we grow up in rural area, you are a shepherd and this is how you were able to make money to put food on the table.

Many families are standing because of your help looking after their sheep, cows and goats. Children go to school freely, study without any stress. They knew you are there looking after their family livestock. I remember your hard work during the snow season, where you would travel through the whole village and wild areas looking livestock only to find them freeze to death. You would go to each and every family and report the cases.

Every Friday you brought us fresh milk; until today I do not eat Amasi. Your job was serious but we never showed appreciation to you. We took you for an old stupid man who failed to achieve basic material things like buying a car. We judged you, we even said you just do not like us. You just don’t care about how we see the world, the things we wanted because we saw them from friends.

We did a lot to you but you forgave us. You liked the verse, “Nkosi bathethelele abakwazi abakwenzayo” You used to say to us, “You understand, we are still new in the human world.” In whatever we did, your word was, “My children I want you to know that whatever you do wherever you do it you must know you are not doing it for me but you are doing it for yourself.” That was the secret of life you gave to us.

If I could turn back the hands of time, my father I would turn back the clock and wake you. As I grow older I realise I need you, I want to show you love. Today I have two kids. The same thing you taught me, today I am telling them. I always remind them they are still new in the human world, a lot of things will confuse them. They must take it slow and learn from the elders.

What you did was to sharpen us for the real world. As you emphasised that we must respect each and every day of our lives for life is unpredictable and tomorrow is not guaranteed. As we complained about the way your life was, we wanted you to be like parent of our friends – have cars, a beautiful house and let us to attend in fancy schools. You will say to us my children you can plan your life but only God will decide.

I mean to say I never wanted my life to be this way but life challenges struck me down. Life humbled me. This is the secret of life baba taught me.


This was one of the commended entries in the My Father essay writing competition. Click here to read other excellent essays from the competition.