Happy Father’s Day, Barack Obama

Obinna Ebirim of Nigeria has over four years’ experience in public health, clinical health, political technical assistance, social media health advocacy, youth development and leadership.  He is currently a senior program officer for International Vaccine Access Center projects in Nigeria.

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Obinna addresses the group. (Photo by Meagan Doll)

Following a sumptuous Saturday dinner hosted by the amiable UW-Madison staff team at the Great Dane Pub and a cozy night rest in a city where I am yet to witness power outage like in my home country, I woke up excited to have seen another new day in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. I said my prayer of appreciation to God and then picked up my phone to read mails and social media updates. There were lots of messages about Father’s Day and this got me thinking as I had already celebrated Catholic Father’s Day back in Nigeria this year. It then dawned on me again, that I am now in the United States of America.

As it is my tradition to use good wishes on such memorable day to keep in touch with my network, I began to compose text messages on my phone for those in the United States who have, at one time or the other, played fatherly roles in my life. I decided to get more insight on the meaning of father. The Oxford dictionary defines father not only as a male parent of a child or a person who is acting as the father to a child, but also as the first man to introduce a new way of thinking about something or of doing something. I had a quick flashback on the activities of the past few days since we arrived the United States and how we have been pampered like children. I said to myself, ‘an amazing father must be responsible’. I also thought about my new way of thinking about inclusiveness and taking care of those with disabilities. I also said to myself, ‘an amazing father must be responsible’. Unmistakably, this father is President Barack Obama. The man who initiated the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and the Mandela Washington Fellowship that made all these possible. He is the amazing father of 1000 young Africans, now in the United States of America, being pampered like children but more importantly, acquiring new leadership knowledge, improved way of thinking and better ways of doing things.

Although I do not have Obama’s phone number to wish him a Happy Father’s Day, I will drop this message below and hope it gets to him.

Thank you Daddy Barack Obama for this fully-funded opportunity to acquire new leadership knowledge and for the fatherly role you have played in our life that now makes us think better and do more for humanity. I pray that God will continue to bless, guide and guard you.

Happy Father’s Day, Barack Obama.