Dear Our President,
Ever since my cousin Lamisi wrote you a letter through me, more letters have started coming in. I am glad of this fact, because it saves my poor ears from all the hot whispers they previously had to endure.
I am sure you have heard about the rising rates of suicide among girls. A father, who is concerned has written a love letter to his daughter, and feels his feelings reflect that of many other fathers. He has asked me to share it. He says anyone is at liberty to plagiarise it for their personal, and hopefully, beneficial use.
Letter to my daughter.
Dear darling daughter,
Thank you very much for your letter. I am happy that you wrote that letter, but am also saddened. Right from when you were a little baby, I have made it paramount, that you would be my favourite and only girl. I have been very open with you and always treated you as an adult and a friend. I am therefore surprised that you were shy or diffident in personally telling me your concerns.
I am surprised to hear that you see my encouragement as comparison. I have always compared you to others, and will continue to do so, but not in the negative manner you think. Let me explain further. You go to school with someone, pay the same fees, and are taught by the same teachers. If the person is first, my hope is that you could at least be tenth. That is because I have great trust in your ability and not the opposite.
What I have noticed is that sometimes, or quite often, you yourself do not seem to believe in yourself. Because of that you do not put in that extra effort. For me that is sad. I belief that everything is possible, if one puts one’s mind to it. So if you think that I am comparing you to any of your friends, you are right, and I will never stop that comparison.
Every parent was once a child, and every child will one day become a parent. While you have never been a parent, I have been both a child and a parent. I have experience on my side. Sometimes, I may appear hard and unbending, but it is for our mutual benefit. I want you to become a successful, and independent adult, and I, a proud father.
I have been through what you are going through. It took courage to change my destiny. We did not have the Junior Secondary School system. We went to boarding school when we were eleven and twelve years old, some even at ten, and endured the system for seven years. Most of us had never lived outside our parents’ houses, much more travel to live in faraway places, where there were no siblings or relatives. We were bullied and in certain cases brutalised by people who were not much older than us, but who had become institutionalized and had no compassion.
Through all this we were supposed to learn and excel. I remember that in form one to three, I almost always was in the last ten. I did not know how to learn by rote. Music and Latin were a drag. The seniors were always sending me. My clothing and bedding were stolen. My food was always being stolen. Then in form three second term, I seemed to wake up from my reverie. I had a confrontation with a senior in the dining hall where he could count on other seniors, and he still had to back down. Then I had to face down a group of Indian hemp smokers who were greatly feared. I won that face-off too.
So if I could fight all these frightful people, why would I allow the academics to beat me? I studied hard and at the end of the term was in the top three. I never looked back from that time. I always took a prize at speech day and was one of the best at the Ordinary Level Certificate examination. Interestingly, I was the second best in Biology even though I was a pure arts student.
I was not lucky to have a father like me. My father was a generous soul, but he was one of those people who thought that every problem could be solved by reprimands and confrontation. He did not know how to encourage me, because he saw my poor academic record as reflecting badly on him and his role as a father. His constant reprimands and criticism would have broken a more timid soul, but as you know, I am stubborn and managed to withstand his constant barrage.
Let me say again that you are lucky. You have never wanted. Not for love and care and encouragement. Not for anything money can buy. Clothes, a place to sleep, visits almost every visiting day, with food and drinks, and all the pocket money you could want.
I hope that like many of your generation you are not taking these things for granted. When we were in school, it took only one and a half hours for our parents to drive to Cape Coast, but they rarely came. Now it takes five to six hours to come and visit you, the same time it takes to fly to London, but your mother and I always SACRIFICE to endure that terrible journey to come and visit you.
SACRIFICE, that word is what we want to instill in you. It makes all the difference. You would not remember, but there was a time when I had to leave home at 3.00 a.m. to travel to Kumasi on the weekends to teach. It was a sacrifice I had to endure to take care of my family.
There have recently been several cases of young ladies taking their lives, and it saddens me greatly. For me, I think that these poor people did not feel loved enough to go to either parent or even a friend to share their problems.it makes me feel that somehow we have managed to spoil you lot rotten, and have failed you. A little hardship is good for building character. You fail exams you kill yourselves, some ugly monkey-faced boy says he does not love you, you choose to die, you do not get that new phone or dress, you decide life is not worth living. Rubbish. If I had decided to commit suicide every time I was sad while growing up, I would have died a hundred times, and maybe more.
So my dear daughter, I will compare you to your friends many times over. You are capable of doing better than all of them. Surprise me. You are my daughter. You are fearless. You are stubborn in the face of challenges and adversity. You may fall, but you will bounce back stronger and bigger and better. You are the love of my life and will always be. You are my daughter. I say to you, it is possible. Your motto should be “YES I CAN”.
Your dear father.