November 15, 2019
You’d be proud, dad
By: Jonathan Kavwenje

Having lost his father at a young age, Jonathan is trying to channel his dad’s wisdom while raising his own sons.

I didn’t realise how much I relied on my father until he was taken suddenly from us. I was 21 and up until that moment if anything went wrong, my dad had been the person I turned to.

I was born in Malawi. It’s a tiny African country between Zambia and Mozambique, famous only for being the place where Madonna adopted her kids. My dad was one of 13; mum was one of 11. Despite being very poor, my dad managed to get a scholarship to go to uni in England and ended up working for one of the big four. My parents’ struggle and sacrifice meant my four siblings and I had a pretty good life.

When we finished school, mum wanted to move back to Malawi, so dad got the funding to set up a local office. I followed and ended up working with him for a year. Two months later he passed away. It was a privilege to spend so much time with him – one of the best decisions I ever made.

Dad always said: “It doesn’t matter what you have. You’re not better than anyone. But no one’s better than you.” He taught me that life isn’t about material things. Whether you have money or not doesn’t define you as a person. Life’s real value comes from family and friendships.

Becoming a dad myself

Andy was born five weeks early. My wife called me and said her obstetrician wanted to schedule the ‘appointment’ at 3pm that afternoon. I didn’t realise the appointment was an emergency caesarean, so I asked her if they could push it back. I put the phone down and a female colleague said: “Did you just ask your wife to postpone her caesarean because you have a meeting?!”

I called straight back and raced over!

Fatherhood is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve worked on very high profile jobs and been blessed with many career opportunities – but it all pales by comparison. Being a dad is the most important thing I do.

That’s why I took my parental leave and was off for six months with Alex and why I work a condensed week so I can have one day at home. A lot of people tell me how amazing that is. All I can think is: my wife does all that stuff and more. No one pulls her aside and tells her how wonderful she is.

Out and about with my boys taking in all things reptile.

Out and about with my boys taking in all things reptile.

When my wife was pregnant, I thought a lot about fatherhood – and about my father. In the first few months after you lose someone, you think about them every day. But, over time, grief fades, and you get swept up in life.

It’s not until another life-changing moment arrives that it all comes flooding back. My dad gave me so much room to make mistakes and showered us all in unconditional love. He was a fantastic role model as I started learning to be a father myself.

My Dad died at 51. That’s only 11 years away for me. I’ve got an irrational fear that the clock is ticking, so I’m trying to do as much as I can to show my boys how to be a man. I try to model the qualities I want to see in my sons. I hope they’ll be respectful, hard-working and protective of each other and their friends. I hope they have the sort of relationship with me that I had with my dad.

I see a lot of my father in my sons. I look at them and I just know how much he’d have loved them.

You’d be proud, dad.

Enjoying a typical day at the beach, I lean on the boys as much as they lean on me.

Enjoying a typical day at the beach, I lean on the boys as much as they lean on me.

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