In celebration of the girl dad

IT has been a particularly tough year, with an endless stream of ups and downs.  It has been a year in which we were all reminded yet again of how precious life is and how short it really is. The year started on its uncanny trend when news broke that former NBA player, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna,  passed away, and with the news, the world stopped.  A lot of hearts were broken, a lot of tears were shed, and for a little while, everything stopped.  Then came the tributes, the personal anecdotes and touching moments from those who knew him, who met him and who loved him. Through it all, I thought I stayed strong until I saw the trending hashtag girldad and the beautiful story that inspired the hashtag.  I am pretty sure that when the ESPN presenter,  Ellen Duncan, told that personal story of her time with Kobe,  she did not know just how far it would go.  She could not have fathomed that it would spark a discussion on the girl child and what it means to raise her/them. Watching her talk on how Kobe felt about raising daughters in a world that still puts the boy child first was truly touching.

Girldad. I have never really heard that word before but when Ellen related her stolen moment with Kobe and how he said it, it created a word that the world could positively get behind.  She had met Kobe at an event while heavily pregnant and while exchanging pleasantries,  he asked her what she was having.  She told him she was having a girl and he excitedly told her that girls were the best with a high five.  He also told her that he would not mind having five more girls bwing a girldad.  That created the word that started the trending hashtag.  In a world of MeToo and TimesUp, where women are still scared to walk the streets alone at night, in a world where being a girl means working twice as hard, in a world where females are second class citizens,  in a world where arguably the most powerful country in the world couldn’t bring itself to have the benefit of the most prepared and qualified person to be its President just because the candidate was a woman even while still going ahead to discussing whether one of its new round of presidential candidates felt it was ready to elect a female president,  the hashtag girldad was and remains a refreshing change of pace.

In Nigeria especially,  being a female can be difficult.  Wives are still being sent packing for giving birth to only girls,  we still perpetuate the belief that only boys actually carry the family name and girls go to their husbands homes, society still weighs a woman’s worth by her marital status or lack thereof.  Finding a man proud to raise only girls and loving it is a rarity.  It reminds us all just how powerful,  unstoppable,  un flappably unique women and girls are and why no one should ever be ashamed to have them.  As a female myself,  I could not help reflecting on my own relationship with my father, a proud girldad.  I found myself reflecting on that special bond between my father and I.  As the only daughter of my parents,  I have been referred to more often than I can remember as a daddy’s girl and I was always proud of it. My father taught me to face the world, to chase my dreams and  never be afraid to dream bigger. He taught me to write, to live and not allow a gender prescribed role hold me back from achieving my goals.  Our conversations always revolve round intellectual debates and how much better the world would be if females were acknowledged.  Our conversations hold a very special place in my heart.

Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players the NBA ever had. His accolades preceded him always. He was the until a few days to his death the third highest points scorer in  NBA history, yet as the world mourned and continue to mourn his death and that of his adorable daughter,  Gianna, the one he told us all was better than he was, we learn an important lesson from him. Of all his accomplishments and accolades,  the one he considered the greatest was that of raising his four daughters,  he was really extremely proud of being a girldad. That is a legacy we will forever remember him for, a legacy that truly matters.  And one we would surely expect and continue to venerate from Kobe Bryant.

  • Wale-Olaitan, an educationist, writes in via waleayo21@gmail.com

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