A Book for my Father

(thanks to Corinne for the title)

I asked a few friends and family members to tell me what their dads meant to them and to give me a book recommendation for Father’s Day. Well, getting their responses back was blub city. I found all their replies very moving.

Corinne and her dad looking for scorpions (as one does)
Corinne and her dad looking for scorpions (as one does)

Being a child of divorce does many things to a child. You learn to never take sides, pack a bag really well, and see your parents as individuals, with separate dreams and lives from your own. It’s a gift and an inspiration in a way – one that only occurs to you years later.  Growing up, my father was something of an enigma to me. There was the dad who collected ‘goggas’ and travelled the deserts of Namibia exploring and finding new species of scorpions, which he published in his thesis to become a doctor of Zoology. We grew up with pet snakes and the comforting smell of formaldehyde in his office at the KwaZulu Natal Museum.

Then there was the businessman optometrist – the second half of his life when he did an about turn, returned to university to become an optometrist, building up two successful practices and providing me with years of free sunglasses and teen holiday work helping people choose frames. He taught me that life is wide open – you can make any choice you want provided you are prepared to work hard for it.

As he approaches his 80th birthday, this Father’s Day I’d love to gift him a copy of In Love with the World by Yangey Mingyur Rinpoche (Pan Macmillan). Billed as part thriller, part deeply personal autobiography, and part Buddhist teachings on how to live a meaningful life, I know he will appreciate the depth and wisdom of a man on a spiritual journey.

(Had no idea this would help me understand my father’s life a little more – so thank you.)

Corinne Rosmarin

Writer & Editor (And fabulous author and friend)

Nontuthuzelo Magoxo with her father
Nontuthuzelo Magoxo with her father

In a country that has a legacy of fatherlessness, I’m glad to be counted amongst the few that have present fathers. And the even fewer that have amazing fathers. It fills me up with pride and reduces me to tears at the same time to admit that I am the one person in the world that has received the full extent of my father’s love. He isn’t a patient man, nor a very generous one, but with me, he goes above and beyond with his patience, his generosity and his kindness and just when I think he’s gone far enough for me, he goes even further.

I didn’t always know it, but as an adult, I’ve come to realize that I’m the one outlet my dad has poured every good vine he has in him into. I tell this story all the time because it reflects the true nature of my love for my father: when I was young, I remember a day when I was walking to my grandmother’s house with my dad, and for some reason, we both wore black jeans and green t-shirts.

Several people would greet my dad and ask, “Hey Tinas, is that your lightie?” I was boyish, my dad would laugh and say yes. I’m not a boy but my heart swelled that my dad claimed me as his lightie. I felt seen, loved, part of his inner circle, like I was something he was truly proud of. I’m a 30 year old woman and I’m still my father’s lightie. Always.

Book recommendation:  Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. I just gave it to him to read and he loves it.

Nontuthuzelo Magoxo

Screenwriter & Script Editor (And my wonderful, sassy friend)

Kiara Power and her father, Patrick Power
Kiara Power and her father, Patrick Power

I am a primary school teacher and The Book I have chosen is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein which is my favourite book to read to the kids!

The reason for this is because my father is the most giving and generous person I know and he reminds me of the tree in the story who embodies selflessness and unconditional love, just like my dad. I can’t wait for him to one day read it to his new grandchildren who will love him as much as I do and I hope I can impact their lives the way he has mine❤️

Kiara Power

Primary School Teacher (Adored niece and new mother of twins – my great nephew and niece – Charlie and Sophia.)

It was challenging to choose a book recommendation for my father, who is a voracious reader (much like his baby sister 😊), and the person who I can count on to suggest my next best read. This is one of the countless qualities I appreciate about him. But if I were forced to choose one quality above all else, it is his generosity of spirit, which knows no bounds when it comes to his family. He often talks about time being the most precious of resources and he has taught me the value of family, by always carving out time for them, especially his three daughters. 

Sinead Power with her father (my big brother)
Sinead Power with her father (my big brother)

 The book I have chosen is Alain de Botton’s “The Course of Love”. I know my father is yet to read it and there is one passage (that I just cannot seem to find!) that explains how a father becomes the benchmark for a daughter’s ideal future partner and is something I have often joked about with my dad and him setting too high a standard. 

I implore everyone to read this, it will make you look upon yourself and the way in which you approach love in a completely different way, because “love is a skill, not just an enthusiasm”- Alain de Bottom. 

Sinead Power

Primary School Teacher (beloved niece and my husband’s goddaughter)

Sue Nyathi and her dad
Sue Nyathi and her father

Happy Father’s Day they often say to us single mothers. An accolade that I refuse to accept for I am but a mother and I am not capable of fathering a child. Having grown up in a dual-parented household, I understand the distinct roles played by a mother and a father which cannot be merged. My son’s father is absent for the most part and features on occasion. I feel sad for my son because he will never know the joy of having a present father.

My dad has always been there, whether it was picking me up from school or supervising my homework. He was the one who introduced me to the likes of Hot Chocolate, George Benson and the Soul Brothers.  When I reflect on the woman I am today, I can attribute a lot of it to my father. I am a tenacious and determined individual, traits I inherited from him. He was and is still my biggest cheerleader in everything I do. I appreciate his sound advice, his direction and even when I did not follow it; his words reverberate in my head.

I love my dad dearly, he is my anchor.

I would recommend Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Sukoluhle Nyathi is (a dear friend of mine as well as) a screenwriter and a published author of two books: The Polygamist and The Gold Diggers. Her third novel, A Family Affair will be out later this year (Yayness! Can’t wait.)

Sandy Power and her dad, William Hill
Sandy Power and her father, William Hill

I know for most girls their dad is their hero, especially in their youth, but mine was truly my hero until the day he died.

To steal words from an obituary which was written for him by my in-laws, “always a twinkle in your eye and a kind word for everybody.” These words described him so well. He was totally selfless and was always a true gentleman. I am so grateful to have had him as a father, a role model I can always look up to and a father who left me with absolutely no bad memories of him.

A book I am sure he would have loved is “ESPN Legends of Cricket” by Geoff Armstrong. He loved his sports, and cricket was always a great passion of his, a sport he played well and loved to watch. Cricket has always been known as “The Gentleman’s game”, so I think it would be a wonderful gift for a real gentleman – how I wish I could give it to him for Father’s Day.

Sandy Power (My beloved sister-in-law and accountant)

Three generations of Ndlovus (Tsholofelo, his dad and his son)
Three generations of Ndlovus (Tsholofelo, his father and his son)

If I could wake up one day and bath my two children without uttering a single complaint. If could listen and calmly respond to their ten questions per-minute without feeling the urge to pull out my front teeth with a blunt tool… If I could spend one day without yelling at them, play their numerous silly games, maybe then, I’d have a shot at being half the man my own father is…

Book Suggestion: The Soul of a Butterfly (By Muhammad Ali)

Tsholofelo Ndlovu – Screenwriter (Copywriter in training & very good friend)

My dear stepfather and father-in-my-life, John, is in intensive care, fighting for his life. It’s not Covid, but the lockdown does mean I can’t visit him, tell him he’s loved and cross-examine doctors. And my brother and sisters can’t jump on a plane and be here. We are isolated in our terror. The gentle pace of life that this lockdown bubble previously delivered now feels like a prison sentence. So I am grateful I can use my voice here, to say how grateful I am to my stepfather for showing up when my own father couldn’t.

Michelle Connon-Roodt with her stepdad
Michelle Connon-Roodt with her stepdad

For being that guy who tirelessly drove teenage me to and from play rehearsals and sports practices. The perfect gentle giant of a Grandpa who my daughters love fiercely and the man in my life that always tells me I’m perfect. The book I would choose to share with him is Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. Theo’s own father is at best a shadowy character, while Hobie a friend and father figure, creates a safe space in the World for him. I guess that’s what Dads do.

Michelle Connon-Roodt

Learning Experience Director (and one of my BFFs). (Don’t worry, nobody knows what I do.) https://wearesponge.com/

My dad has always cheered me up when I’m down and supported me when I’ve been excelling. I am eternally grateful to know he’s always there for me no matter what I’m going through. I love you, Dad.

Book recommendation: Things Unseen by Pamela Power (This kid is goooood. I see a future in politics)

Rubz and Paulus
Rubz and Paulus

Ruby Vos

Grade 10 learner, artist (and my favourite daughter – you can find her on Instagram at ruby.p.art)

Liam & Paulus
Liam & Paulus

What I appreciate most about my dad is his kindness and sincerity. Responsible and reliable, my dad is the man I strive to be in moments of family and personal chaos.

He is trustworthy and always knows what to do when I am lost or confused while allowing me to ride on his shoulders, navigating the murky waters of life. I am grateful for the sacrifices and struggles he accepted in being my parent and hope that through some means of reciprocation I can repay this tremendous debt…

I feel, as it is one of my dad’s many passions, a cook book will be appropriate because he loves to cook and loves to learn new recipes that he can make for our family. In that case I recommend Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat by Samin Nosrat and The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer

Liam Vos

Second Year BHSc student at WITS (and my favourite son)

Paul & I
Paul & I

I never had much of a relationship with my own father for various reasons but I’m very blessed to have had some incredible father figures in my life…I’m thinking particularly of my two brothers and my brother-in-law, who have been there for me, always.

And I am especially grateful to my own husband, a truly wonderful father and partner who loves me and our children so deeply. He makes me laugh and he makes me dinner, in the words of the inimitable Elton John “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world”.

My book recommendation for him is The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo. I chose it for a number of reasons – firstly it’s one of his favourite books (he says it contains the best sex scenes ever written), secondly the protagonist is Marubini (Ruby is our daughter, geddit?) and lastly because my husband loves reading books written by women and it’s quite one of my favourite things about him.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and happy reading! xxx