A portrait of fathers (and their fathers) #Dadslovewhisky – Part II


I’m on a one-week travel assignment along the Kenyan coastline – from Lamu to Diani. I’m also taking this opportunity to ask men about fatherhood, and about their fathers, sometimes over whisky (Johnnie Walker Black for me, naturally). In Part I, I spoke to Adam Dyer, an American in Africa looking for a place to hang his hat, and in Part III, I’m going to be talking to one man who carries around his father’s secret.


Straight from Satan’s mouth…

Satan, 48, Social Worker

I know, I know, that name!

I’ve known Satan for dog years. He has always been my fixer in Lamu. He’s extremely eloquent in English and quite personable. The kind of chap you want to share a whisky with. You call Satan up and you ask him for a contact, a direction, an introduction to someone, insight on anything in Lamu, anything at all, and he will get it for you on the double. He will get it because he knows a hell lot of what happens in Lamu. He’s my Go-To guy in Lamu. He knows people; people who know things you want to know.

But unlike the real Satan he never asks for your soul in return.

I fell out with my dad when I was quite young. Left home in Kikuyu to find the world. For ten years I didn’t talk to him, or even see him. Then one day my grandfather sent for me, said he wanted to see me. He was old, grandfather, and you know better than to ignore calls when an old person calls out for you. So I went back home. He told me that I needed to make things right with my dad, that I needed to go see him. So I went to say hallo to my dad after so many years. A terse, short and civil meeting. Next day I left. A day later granddad died. He was trying to make us reconcile.

We are

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nine of us in the family. I’m the first son. We all talk once in a while. The responsibility of being the first son in the family was too much for me. I couldn’t bear it. My father, on the other hand is, an old style kind of father. He leads with no emotional attachment at all. My dad doesn’t cut corners. He doesn’t wiggle out of situations, faces things head on. We might not be close, but as an adult myself, I respect what a man like him had to do to raise nine kids.

I’m a confused father. I have a son with a French lady who works in Diani. My son, aged 10, lives with her. I get to see him once every two months. He’s growing fast, my boy, and of course, I’d love to spend more time with him, but there is always something that comes up; holidays in Europe to see his grandparents, some activity in Diani…so all I have with him is that time. Is it enough? It’s all I have.

Now I work in a shelter home with about 250-orphaned kids. I find leverage in that.

Before this job I worked at Petley’s bar for one year. In that whole year the only time I was sober was five days. I was on a bad path, my man. The day I got fired from Petley’s is the day I got this job at Anidan Kenya. It’s a transformative place, full of life and hope and these kids are confident and driven. My experience in their growth is real time; I deal with kidsbarely learning to walk, teenage boys struggling with raging hormones, girls just growing tits…I’ve moved from taking care of drunks to taking care of kids. I can tell you it’s the same thing.

[What’s the one thing you want to impact on your own son?]

I want him to posses the gift of situational awareness. That ability to source and assess a situation in a tenth of a second and make an even faster decision on how he will handle it. That’s my survival kit for life.

In the end, my fatherhood is unconventional. I look at it like I’m a father to 250 kids, not of one.

Oh, and my name, Satan? That’s a very long story, my man. Maybe another day.

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  1. Hey Biko
    I am impressed with this new story. I am a mother myself but it irritates me how we are less concerned about the role of a father in a child’s life. The traditional sense has always been, “as long as the mother is around its all good”. Thats crap ofcourse, a child needs both. Wether the couple are together or not.
    Sorry Satan I find it shit that the mother of your child thinks having a social calender for her son is more important then spending time with you. But what’s important is your there, your showing up, and thats more then being a good father.
    Biko loooove your website and really looking forward to the new articles.

    1. please no judgement on the mother,she is already doing more than enough,,,,the social calender is part of both their life soo,,,

  2. Hmm Biko I wonder if your man Satan knows my chap Captain I’ll Be Back in Lamu. They sound quite alike

  3. [What’s the one thing you want to impact on your own son?]

    I want him to posses the gift of situational awareness.
    That ability to source and assess a situation in a tenth of a second
    and make an even faster decision on how he will handle it. That’s my
    survival kit for life.

    Biko, could you please introduce me to this guy. I like his thinking. Could do with a father with skills like his!! Please?

  4. I met Satan afew days ago after someone
    told me I should meet him. He is very liKeable and I smell an adventure with him… The kids he worKs with adore him too. Then he mentioned he Knows BiKo and I liKed him more. Im the fan he said hi to you for the last time he called you.