Power is like being a lady (or man)...if you have to tell people you are, you aren't – Margaret Thatcher
On the third of Feb 2014, God blessed my wife and I with a bouncing baby boy. I was not shy about posting pictures on Facebook one of which received an overwhelming 759 likes. A flood of congratulations followed, inbox messages, smses, whatsapp groups and quite a few local and international phone calls.
One particular friend who is a father to a couple of daughters asked me "Dude how did you manage to get a boy on your first attempt?"
I did not think much of it until another later confessed to having tried and failed to achieve children of this "preferred gender" on three occasions. When I commented on Facebook about how sleep-deprived I was, one mentor of mine -a dollar millionaire who has achieved so much in his young life- posted the following comment: "Man, I've got two girls, now you understand why I freak out when they tell me that as an African man I need to get a boy!!! I'm done period!!!! No more colic; diapers; immunization etc Good luck mate!"
I discussed the topic with my wife and she mentioned that it had also been whispered that an African woman who gives birth via a Caeserian section or asks for an epidural to numb the pain of natural birth is "not a real woman". Still more African cultural norms and stereotypes persist around the birth of my boy; apparently if I get him circumcised at a hospital soon after birth rather than taking him for a proper initiation ceremony when he is of age will lessen his manhood.
The topic of fathering boys has been around since time immemorial. I know quite a few families that comprise 5 – 8 girls then a boy or just the 5 – 8 girls! The parents kept trying and trying and only stopped when the boy emerged or when hope faded completely. How to get a baby boy is a frequent Google search and beyond the internet, there are numerous old wives tales on how to achieve this 'fete' ranging from sexual position, to the temperature of the room during conception to working with an 'ovulation calculator'.
Is the African obsession with getting male children valid? The preservation of name and retention of wealth is a prevalent argument. Say Mr. X and Mr. Y have a child each, the former a boy and the latter a girl. The boy and girl get married and inherit the wealth of their fathers. Mr. Y's wealth is transferred to grandchildren whose surname is X, it is effectively 'given away' to the X family for eternity. In fact (save for siblings and cousins), people bearing the Y surname cease to exist as decendants.
There is also the theory that having a male child is proof that you are well endowed. As the boy-bearing sperm is said to be fast but dies before reaching the ovum, it is argued that a long john will bring that sperm closer to the egg before it perishes.
It should be noted that many theories have been discussed here, most of which do not have conclusive medical proof. Speaking of medicine, I hear it is possible to make twins these days same way I presume you can test sperm for the male chromosomes whisk them in a test tube with an egg and voila, pull out a boy like a rabbit out of a hat.
To be completely honest, I was more excited when my wife told me she was pregnant than I was when the doctor told us it was to be a boy. Similarly, I had a bigger interest in the paediatricians declaration of a healthy child than I did in sighting the weenie dangling between his legs.
In the same way I do not insist that my wife get herself down to the authorities and change her surname to mine, I am not as taken as many are by the idea that people shall wander this earth bearing my name. When I'm gone, I'm gone. As long as I made a valiant effort of paving the way for my children and theirs to achieve their dreams and purpose in life, my work will be complete.
The whole argument that a woman should bear children naturally and painfully is pure hogwash. It is not one I think I should justify with a response. Similarly, I know great men who have never been circumcised and quite a number who withstood tears by a cold river who are nothing short of dead-beat.
In conclusion ladies and gents, I think that some of these African norms are past their sell by date like the skins and grass-outfits some of our forefathers wore. It is not WHAT you father, it is HOW you father. As Furious Styles (Lawrence Fishburne) said in my favourite movie of all time Boyz n the Hood: 'any fool with a penis can make a baby but it takes a real man to raise one'.
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