Father’s Day for only the Good Fathers – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Father’s Day for only the Good Fathers – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Be it books, songs, movies, business establishments, television and radio programmes, I am always fascinated with titles. For example, the title of the book “To Sir, With Love”, by ER Braithwaite, which went on to be the title of a song and later the title of a movie. It is the type of title which fascinates me. Now, here is the title of an informative Radio programme by Dr. Rovin Deodat which really attracts me; it is entitled, “Have You ever Wondered?” I am extremely fascinated with that programme title, and of course, the content of the programme, since one is almost always learning something new for the better part, when listening to that particular radio programme.

Now let me pose the following question which is part of the focus of this feature on Father’s Day 2017; Have you ever wondered who is the oldest father now in Guyana? Subject to correction, he is 106 year old Gladstone Mack of South Sophia Georgetown.     

Likely the oldest Father in Guyana, a recent photograph of 106 year old Gladstone Mack aka Uncle Mackie, at his South Sophia home holding one of his many trophies. (Photo by Francis Quamina Farrier)

To be more precise, Uncle Mackie, as he is familiarly called, is originally from Aurora on the lower Essequibo Coast, in Region Number Two. He is the father of ten children and scores of grands, great grands and great-great grands, who all love and adore the Patriarch of their Family. Even as a centenarian, Uncle Mackie is as alert as ever and someone who, with which, one can have a lively conversation. The subjects can range from his growing-up years on the Essequibo Coast, the way in which the many ethnic groups interacted beautifully with each other a century ago, to his many years working in the hinterland and a lengthy period as a Farmer.

Although I visit with him very rarely, it is always a pleasure to converse with someone who can be so engaging in conversation touching on a variety of topics, especially on his two principal means of livelihood during his working years. Uncle Mackie is, most importantly, a patriotic Guyanese, and a man of Faith who believes in God and has passed on his moral and religious beliefs to his children and grandchildren.

During his younger years, Gladstone Mack worked in the gold-fields of British Guiana. He was a pork-knocker – those men who travelled up the rough, fast-flowing rivers of western British Guiana/Guyana, into the deep hinterland, crossing rapids and skirting water-falls to reach the rich gold fields. Those Pork-knockers of yore, Uncle Mack told me, sometimes experienced tragedies when their boats capsize and lives were lost in the waters of the swift-flowing rivers. However, in those early days of gold mining, the pork-knockers always looked out for each other, he told me, especially with food and accommodation when necessary.

Later on in his long and productive life, Gladstone Mack earned his livelihood as a Farmer on the lower Essequibo Coast in what is now Region #2. It was tough work, but very rewarding emotionally and financially for this special Guyanese Father. Like Gladstone Mack, there are many Guyanese Fathers who can be classified as unsung Heroes. They live their lives doing the right things at all times. Providing for their families with hard and honest labour, and on Father’s Day, they are to be thanked. On this Father’s Day 2017, many grateful and loving children and grand children, will be doing all they can, to show how much they love their dad. And this will be so, in many countries all around the world.

It must be noted that Father’s Day is intended to recognize and celebrate the good Fathers and Father Figures in our lives. Unfortunately, at the turn of the century, I began to realize that a growing number of influential individuals here in Guyana, some pastors included, were putting their focus more on the bad fathers, and in many cases, totally ignoring the good fathers, and what Father’s Day should be all about; that it is the day to give words of encouragement and praise to those fathers who continue to struggle to be even better fathers, even in the face of so many obstacles and distractions. Many of these fathers are in work environments which are sometimes very cruel to them. They sometimes suffer greatly at the hands of cruel bosses who belittle them seemingly just for the heck of it. It is very painful for such men, but they grin-and-bear, because they realize that they have a responsibility to their Families. These men do not take out their frustrations on their wives and children. They are men of Honour. Men of Purpose.

It has already been established that there are just too many bad fathers, not only in Guyana, but in many countries around the world, and that is precisely why Father’s Day should be the day that the good fathers should be lifted up, and the bad fathers ignored. There are fifty two Sundays in a year, with just one Sunday set aside to recognize and honour the good fathers – FATHER’S DAY; and so there should be no mention of the evil deeds of bad fathers on Father’s Day. NO analysis about fathering or about failed fathers – leave all of that for the fifty one other Sundays in the year. The good Fathers must be Celebrated on this special day set aside for them – FATHER’S DAY.

Some of the principal contributions of good fathers to the development of a nation are multi-dimensional; from setting a good example and being good role models to the up-coming fathers, and to not being a drain on the Law-Enforcement, Health and Judicial systems in the country. Just consider how many man-hours of police, doctors, nurses, magistrates and judges are saved because of the many good men (fathers) who live law-abiding and productive lives in our society! Consider, too, the fathers who bring so much joy to their children by being there for them all the time – from taking them to and from school, giving them good advice, being kind and loving to the mothers of their children, and generally just being GOOD GUYS. For over ten years, I have taken periods of time to stand in front of many schools and observe fathers dropping off and picking up their children. It is wonderful to behold. I have sometimes spoken to some of those fathers; even taking photos of some of them with their children.

Over the past fifteen years, I have held discussions with a number of professionals and received excellent information and insight in Fathers and Fathering in Guyana. The former Head of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association, the late Frederick Cox, is one such individual with whom I held discussions. I also did on-camera interviews with him, which were aired on the Evening News in the mid-1990s. The same with his successor Ms. Beverley Braithwaite-Chan who gave me a woman’s prospective of what Father’s Day should be all about. I’ve also received some very useful information from Pastor John O. Smith of the Central Assembly of God Church on Church Street, Georgetown, as well as from Pastor Raphael Massiah of the First Assembly of God Church on Durban Street in Georgetown. In fact, after our very pleasant meeting, Pastor Massiah wished me all success with what he termed my “Crusade”. Prior to that elevation of my mission, I was referring to it as my “campaign”, to have Father’s Day void of the mention of bad fathers.

On this Father’s Day 2017, let us extend Hearty Congratulations to our good Fathers and thank them for being who they are and give them kind words of encouragement and praise. Many of them do need it. Let us not take these good men for granted and effectively make them invisible citizens. With all the modern distractions, it is not easy in this day and age to be a good father.

To Uncle Mackie and all the other good Guyanese Fathers and Father Figures, in Guyana and around the world, let us extend HAPPY FATHER’S DAY Greetings.

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  • Dmitri Allicock  On June 18, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Happy Father’s Day to you Francis

  • Ken Corsbie  On June 18, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Another good one Francis.. keep telling our stories..

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