Today is November 5 2020.
It has been 37 years since my father was killed.
He was 37 years old when he died in 1983.
He was murdered by the police in an enigma of a tragedy that we still have not succeeded in totally unravelling.
If my father had not been shot dead on that day while he was driving his brand new yellow Peugeot 504, he would have been 74 years old this year.
I can only imagine what he’d look like today.
Bald? Super grey-haired? Dandy? Political? Famous? Wealthy?
My elder brother says, “He was so full of life. Looked like nothing could stop him.”
My brother could remember my father because my brother, the oldest of my four siblings at the time, was 10 years old when the event happened.
I was barely four.
When a loved one is snatched from us, we’re left with would-haves and could-haves, a plain canvas with no paint and no artist.
I indulge sometimes in some of the questions I might ask him, were he still here.
So, here are 37 things I thought I could have learnt from my father:
- How to drive
- How to drive stick
- How to shave
- How to pick a career to match my personality and vision
- How to select a higher institution for my studies
- How to write (legend has it he was quite the talented wordsmith)
- How to stay motivated
- How to find myself
- How to play politics
- How to think intellectually
- How to be civil
- How to speak to women
- How to treat and not treat a woman
- How to love or not love a woman
- How to raise my own kids
- How to maintain an interesting conversation
- How to be strong in the face of adversity
- How to pick my friends
- How to manage a career
- How to sell my ideas
- How to argue and not make enemies of my opponents
- How to farm
- How to experience the world beyond Nigeria
- How to pick my mentors
- How to determine which piece of advice is worth something
- How to enjoy my leisure
- How to partner with others
- How to treat myself with respect
- How to dream big
- How to chase that dream
- How to dress up like a gentleman
- How to approach social drinking
- How to manage mental pressure
- How to use my voice to make a difference in the world
- How to help other people with what I have
- How to be charismatic
- How to be full of life
By feeling about in the dark for many years and with dozens of gracious surrogates by my side, I might have figured out for these questions a few good answers. But we’re still here. We’re hopeful. Hopeful that, even though my father has been gone now for as long as he lived, perhaps we’ve made him proud.
If today you remember someone dear to you, someone you wish were still here, take a moment and light a candle for them. Believe that there’s a better place beyond this earth and that, well, they’re there, finally, finally at peace.