I’m 26, And I don’t Know My Dad

April 15, 2021

During a random conversation with a friend, Sierra*, a few weeks ago, she mentioned that her mum passed several years ago and that she has never met her dad. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story the whole evening. On the following day, I hit her up to ask if she would be open to talking about it in more detail and if it was okay for me to write about it. She agreed to it and we set up a call.


My mum died on an afternoon in December 1998 inside a maternity ward. She had just birthed my baby brother, and I imagine her handing him to my grandmother and asking her to take care of her babies as she drew her last breath. When she had me three years earlier, it had been a difficult experience. She was in labour for three days, and for the most part, the doctor didn’t think both of us would make it. But we did. After it was over, they had some news for her: she had no business trying to have another child. Well, she tried to have my brother. 

After she was gone, a decision was made about what the family would do with us and who would take us in. My older brother, who my mum had in her previous marriage and was about 15 years older than me, went back to his dad’s family. My grandmother took my baby brother. My mum’s older sister took responsibility for me and brought me to her home. I called her and her husband mum and dad for my entire childhood. 

However, the disadvantage of tossing all the kids around and separating us was that we never really bonded. We’ve made significant progress in recent years, but the cracks are still there. 

Anyway, my foster parents changed my last name to theirs, and I answered that for years. We talked about a lot of things but only so much came up about my mum. Nothing about my father. 

In 2009, the man who raised me passed away after a long illness. I remember coming home from school for the holidays sometime in the previous year, and he was sicker than I’d ever seen him. He had lost most of his mobility. By the time he eventually died, mum had spent most of their money on hospital bills. 

My older brother came to his funeral,  and we had time to talk. He pulled out a passport photograph from his wallet and asked if I knew the woman in it. When I said no, he revealed what I could have guessed. The woman was my mum. I wanted to know more, especially about who my father might be but he promised to tell me more the next time we saw. 

Things became more difficult at home after my foster dad’s death. Mum couldn’t afford my school fees anymore but she managed to keep me in school and the boarding house I was in. But there was a day things were so tough and I called my brother to send me ₦500 airtime. Unbeknownst to me, he took it as a cry for help. Not long after, he showed up at my school, lied that mum asked him to pick me up and instructed me to pack my stuff. I was confused but I followed him, no questions asked. I lived with him for a year or thereabout. And he was the only one who’s talked to me openly about my dad. 

One day, he gave me a slip — it was my birth certificate and it had both my parents’ name on it. That was my first interaction with my father. I knew his name now, and I decided to take his first name as my last name.

Apparently, my mum met him after her first marriage. She had just moved to Ibadan with my older brother to start a new life. She put herself in school and met my dad during that period. But there was a problem: he was Igbo and my mum was Yoruba. It was a taboo relationship, but they didn’t let it stop them. They married in secret and kept it that way for years. Only my maternal grandmother knew about the marriage, I doubt that any of my dad’s family came around for the wedding. The rest of the family didn’t know who my dad was until my mum passed away.

However, taking his name didn’t feel as nice as I thought it would be. I couldn’t shake away the fact that he abandoned his kids after his wife died, and I wondered what kind of man it made him. I thought he didn’t want us. I was mad, and it was torture. I had a father who couldn’t be bothered about finding me. For many years, I struggled with this. I wanted to be accepted by any man — for someone to look at me and say “You’re enough.” 

***

I reconnected with my mum’s sister the following year, but I didn’t ask her about my father. I didn’t want her to think I was ungrateful. The best way was to piece everything together myself. I got the missing parts of the story from various people as a teenager, and then as an adult. These parts never and still don’t make much sense to me.

I once struck up a conversation with an older relation who is now late, and he told me that my dad didn’t exactly abandon us. He tried to reach out to us after my mum’s death but because he had no job and was broke, he wasn’t allowed to see or take us with him. He stayed away because they told him to. I understand that my mum’s family did what they thought was best for us, but sometimes, I can’t help but think that they had no right to send him away. 

But it’s been years now, and he hasn’t tried to make contact. But I like to think that he has tried and probably still is trying.  Sadly, my younger brother thinks he broke our family — that if our mum hadn’t died while having him, we would know our father. I blamed myself too. I felt like she would have been in better shape to have my brother if there weren’t any complications when she had me. But I also know that it’s neither of our faults. Childbirth comes with its own complications. It was out of our control. 

I started dealing with my abandonment issues and a whole lot of other psychological issues that everything has caused me a few years ago, and while I’m still learning, I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve accepted that I might never know or meet my dad. The only thing that links to him is a piece of paper with his name. And you know what? That’s all right for now. I harbour hope that maybe, he will come for us before I’m 30.

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Toheeb Lanlehin

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

January 7, 2020

A lot of Nigerians do not know their genotype and blood group. Therefore, we decided that before you go for lab tests, we should try to guess what your genotype is. We teamed up with a team of international scientists to make this possible for free!

August 21, 2020

Every person needs a space to call theirs. Many Nigerian men have interests that might not exactly fit with the general theme of your living environment. Enter the man cave.  Think of the man cave as a personal sanctuary, everything designed just how you like it. Depending on your tastes, here are a couple of […]

April 20, 2021

Do you want to win the heart of an Ibadan person? You have come to the right place. We will tell you everything you need to know, so that by the time you’re done reading this article, you would be ready to land your Ibadan lover. 1. Buy them amala from Amala Skye Remember the […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

May 14, 2021

Bolanle Austen-Peters Production, in collaboration with the MTN Foundation, is bringing the story and characters of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman to the Terra Kulture stage on May 13 to 16 in eight performances. The story, which is inspired by true events, is about a king’s horseman who is prevented from committing ritual […]

May 14, 2021

Spiderman has been seen doing a ton of questionable things on the TL lately — dancing at parties for food, twerking for coins and passing out at nightclubs. We can’t tell if it’s the economy or he took the wrong covid vaccine, but something is seriously wrong with that man. So, inspired by these shenanigans, […]

The Worst Thing A Friend Has Done
May 14, 2021

Friendships can be tricky. Sometimes, friends hurt each other and it’s hard to get past that. In this article, we asked seven Nigerian women to share the worst thing a friend has done to them.  Ibinabo, 24 I had this roommate when I was doing my diploma in Ibadan. I was a new student but […]

Recommended Quizzes

December 3, 2019

Are you a professional Yoruba demon? Are you walking around in search of whose life you can wreck at any given time? Well, this quiz knows exactly how many hearts you’ve shattered to date, and before you lie that your result is inaccurate, just remember that Zikoko is never wrong. Now, take it and be […]

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

February 26, 2020

Are you all set for marriage, or are you still figuring it out? Well, if you’re curious to know the answer, then this is the quiz for you. All you have to do is create your own ideal Nollywood wedding film, and we’ll tell you if you’re ready to say “I do”. Go ahead:

More from Inside Life

May 13, 2021

Abuse in mental health institutions is not a new phenomenon. Reports of abuse emanate from care institutions nationwide. This is worsened by the fact that there are thousands of unregistered mental health institutions which often use unorthodox methods in the treatment of patients. The case isn’t any different in government-run institutions where practitioners operate unsupervised […]

man holding money to his ear
May 12, 2021

Are you tired of waiting for a promotion that doesn’t seem to be coming? We get it, and that’s why we made this guide to getting one. 1. Work hard Work very hard. Show up at work before everybody. Do their work and yours too. You can even go on public holidays to show them […]

May 11, 2021

If you are part of the ‘’I want what Zikoko writers are on’’ bandwagon, then this article is 100% for you. It’s a short and easy guide to joining us.  1.Tweet your journo request every day.  Yes, this is step one. If you want to talk to people who have turned to yam and are […]

May 10, 2021

Emojis were created to make texting cooler and make conversations a lot more interesting. Since we are ever so kind at Zikoko, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to interpret what some emojis should mean.  1.🙂 This emoji should be called the 40+ emoji, it’s not a smile or a frown? It’s passive-aggressive, very much like […]

May 8, 2021

Exclusive new SoundCloud playlist on Triller features standout independent artists direct from SoundCloud Lagos, 7th May 2021 – AI-powered social media experience Triller and next-generation music entertainment company SoundCloud, today, announced a new integration that will uniquely showcase and support emerging independent artists with the launch of a dedicated SoundCloud-curated playlist featured on Triller. For […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X