Fatherhood has taught me what responsibility means by force – Woli Agba

Comedian, actor, and sketch creator Ayobami Ajewole, widely known as Woli Agba, shares his journey into fatherhood with EMMANUEL OJO.

What does fatherhood signify to you as a young father?

Fatherhood, to me, represents responsibility. It involves accepting the duty not only for biological family members but also for those who, though not related by blood, still regard you as a paternal figure. Embracing the role of “father” means committing to the well-being of those who perceive you as such. I often stress the importance of having a paternal influence for achieving significant progress in life. Thus, as a father, being prepared to offer support and guidance to others is paramount.

Fatherhood encompasses being a pillar of support for advice, sharing experiences, providing financial assistance, and offering all forms of guidance to those who look up to you. Simply put, being a father means shouldering responsibility.

In modern society, some fathers falter in fulfilling their responsibilities. Many of my generation were caught off guard by fatherhood, unprepared mentally and financially. Some became fathers unintentionally, lacking the readiness to embrace the role. Consequently, they continue living as though they were still bachelors, neglecting their parental duties and leaving their children unsupported. This lack of readiness and reluctance to accept responsibility has detrimental effects on society.

Pressure from family and society to marry and have children is prevalent. However, the essence of marriage and parenthood should not solely revolve around reproduction or age-related concerns. The biblical narrative of Adam and Eve illustrates that companionship and the need for support in life’s endeavors should guide one towards marriage, rather than societal expectations based on age or reproductive motives.

What are your thoughts on beginning a family at a young age?

In this region, there’s a prevailing belief that marrying later in life, around 29, means reaping the benefits much later, around 53 or 54. However, this overlooks those who pass away before reaching that age. Some suggest that having children earlier leads to a longer life, but what about those children who lose a parent early? Pressure shouldn’t dictate finding a life partner; it’s about facing life’s struggles together. Today, broken homes often result from forced partnerships. Personally, I focus on my work while aiming for a balanced life for my children. I believe they should thrive independently when they grow up, rather than relying on me in my old age.

How did you feel when you welcomed your first child?

Welcoming my first child brought immense joy. I eagerly awaited his arrival, wondering if he’d resemble me. Holding him for the first time filled me with a sense of responsibility and pride. I couldn’t sleep that day, constantly checking on him and even assisting with feeding.

Did you have a preference for your first child’s gender?

While I didn’t have a strong preference, as a “prophet,” there was a part of me that wanted to showcase divine favor. Ultimately, I’m grateful for the son I received.

What lessons has fatherhood imparted to you?

Fatherhood has taught me about accountability, ensuring my children inherit a legacy of integrity and kindness. It’s about making choices that benefit them, even when no one’s watching. I’ve learned to tailor my actions to their well-being, from nurturing their interests to safeguarding their mental health. As an artist, I’ve even adjusted my work to reflect values suitable for my children. Moreover, fatherhood has instilled in me the importance of generosity, shaping me into a more giving individual.

Have you encountered any challenges as a father?

Providing for my family has been the biggest challenge, as it affects how I’m perceived by my children and wife. Other challenges, like learning to change diapers or soothing my baby, were minor in comparison. However, ensuring my family’s needs are met remains my top priority.

Do you envision any of your children following in your comedic footsteps?

My kids show interest in comedy and enjoy watching me perform. I’m supportive of their passions and will encourage them to pursue what they love, just as I did. Their happiness and success in their chosen endeavors are what matter most to me.

Do your children refer to you as Woli Agba at home?

Yes, they sometimes call me Woli Agba, but they also call me daddy. I engage with them in both roles, occasionally surprising them by dressing up as Woli Agba to entertain them. It’s heartwarming to see their excitement and laughter, and even my wife sometimes wishes she could entertain them like I do.

How do you typically engage with your family in your leisure time?

Spending quality time with my children is a deliberate choice rather than leaving it to chance. I prioritize being present with them, even if it means sacrificing work commitments. I aim to understand their activities and thoughts, ensuring they’re surrounded by positive influences. It’s a conscious effort that all fathers should undertake.

What legacy do you aspire to leave for your children?

I hope to leave a legacy that makes them proud, akin to how I admire my father’s sacrifices for me. I want them to succeed independently and carry themselves with dignity, knowing their lineage opens doors because of their father’s greatness.

Are there specific values you aim to instill in your children?

Absolutely. I aim to impart values of humility, generosity, respect, and compassion, which I inherited from my parents. I want them to embody what the Yoruba culture calls ‘Omoluabi’. My children greet me each morning with respect, and they understand the consequences of their actions, often discerning from my expressions when they’ve erred.

How do you discipline your children when needed?

Communication is key in guiding them, and thankfully, it’s been effective since their early years. While I reserve the option of discipline, I rarely resort to physical punishment. Instead, I utilize verbal warnings, and they understand the seriousness when I express dissatisfaction. This approach ensures they grasp the boundaries and consequences of their actions.

Sources: Infotrend.com.ng