My Father Is an African Immigrant and My Mother Is a White Girl from Kansas and I Am Not the President of the United States

Or, How to Disappoint Your Absent Father in 20 Words or Less

Comments

1
oh this is so awesome Joe. that is the name I use to call you. I hope that is okay. But I can call you Aham now. I am amazed that you guys spoke to him....this was so well written and had me captivated the whole time! I look forward to more in the future....
2
This is a really great story, and a wonderfully written piece.
3
This is the kind of story we need more of in America. People admitting their disappointments and limitations and getting over them. Congratulations to you for this very brave and well-written story.
4
this is awesome and excellent, and as i was also blessed/cursed with not-the-name-of-an-accountant, i have an overwhelming sense of empathy.
5
Very well done.
6
This is a great story. Thanks so much for trusting us with it.
7
"Ahamefule is not the name of a sensible man"...because anyone with sense could never have left you. Your insight is amazing, I hope sharing gives you some measure of peace.
8
Great feature!
9
You used 25 words. That's not 20 or less! But great story.
10
Cool story man. Are you diarrhea from the frotcast?
11
My name is Mustafa. While more common than Ahamefule, I feel I can share your name-difficulties.
12
this story kind of made my morning
13
A touching story, although I confess I did chuckle at your revelation.

One thing though, Australians pronounce the 't' in 'fillet' so I suspect I would still pronounce your name incorrectly. Apologies.
14
Basically, the story of my life, my own father. Thank you for writing this up. It is a good read and good food for thought.
15
Your father let YOU down, dear, not the other way around.

A beautifully written story. You are clearly talented. I predict great success in everything you do.
16
Wonderful piece. Thanks so much.
17
Beautiful story, thank you for sharing. Dads are difficult things to have, sometimes.
18
I loved this.
19
This is a beautiful piece. I hope to read more of your work.
20
At sixteen, you could hardly have been expected to have come up with the right riposte (or possibly one of many right ripostes) to your dad's disapproval of your (then) chosen career: "Yeah, well, DAD, I don't approve of the fact that you skipped out on me when I was a month old. I've had sixteen years to get over my disappointment in you. I'll give you 16 months to get over your disappointment in me. Bye."
21
This is among the best things this my favorite rag has ever managed to publish. You are a hero, sir.
22
your name has ten thousand meanings. To your father, it is a tribute to himself. To a 16 year old, it is a commandment to excel. To a new friend, it is an unreliable fish monger. To a Nigerian, it is a man called Name! To your lovers? To your children? To yourself?
Your name has ten thousand meanings.
23
This wonderful piece, Ahamefule. I appreciated reading this greatly.
24
Great story - thanks for sharing it! You have already done great things.
25
Thank you for this wonderful piece.
26
Thanks for sharing.
28
A narrative is not necessarily made more compelling through the overuse of CAPS, despite the accolades of well meaning, guilt-ridden white folk.
29
Thank you.

I too grew up without a father, from the age of six - in my case I remember that he loved me unconditionally.

You are a very strong person.
30
I started this article thinking "wow your family is terrible people", and ended it thinking "wow your family is really interesting and your life is amazing". Godspeed.
31
I found this piece both touching and inspirational. I understand more of the lifestyle you've described than most probably do, and was recently contacted by MY absent father...who I wish had never called.
Thank you for reminding us all that we are more than the sum of our genes. XOXO and best of luck!
33
Fuck your dad and his disappointment. You don't owe him a goddamn thing.
34
SPAM ALERT! SPAM ON AISLES 27 AND 32!!!!
35
@28 he used caps all of two or three times to indicate Mustafa cloud dad booming/enthusiastic Nigerian guy at bar yelling. If you're going to try pooping on a parade at least make sure it'll stick.
36
Wonderful work. Thank you for sharing. Good luck on your journey to understand yourself and your father--even for those with less complicated stories, it is the work of a lifetime.
37
So, your father abandoned you, and you have already yourself fathered two children by different women who you are now claiming you "hate" on your website.

Way to set the bar high.
38
@28: Way to jump to conclusions. His two children are from his first marriage and he is a devoted father who was their primary caretaker for most of their lives.

Your desire to see the worst is sad.
40
Thank you everyone for your kind words, I am glad you liked it.

Also

@37 Just to clarify, both of my children are from my first marriage, they have the same mother and I have been raising them as the custodial parent since we divorced... I am not my father. And the "2 ex wives that I hate" on my website.. that is a joke....you know....in that series of jokes....that it was in the middle of. I don't hate them, I have a perfectly fine relationship with them. I just thought it was a funny juxtaposition.
41
This is just a wonderful piece on so many levels. And what a gift it is to us reading it.
42
this was awesome! Good luck Aham
43
Wonderful piece! Please keep writing.
44
The place where he runs into the Nigerian man (YOU ARE NIGERIAN!)brought this to mind from Trading Places
http://youtu.be/oCERfa8LcS4
45
Great piece!

@35, 38: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. Writing combative things about both the article AND the commenters definitely counts as trolling; add to that the mischaracterization of the article and the complete lack of any connection to "white guilt", and there's no question. Just let him wither and die without sustenance.
46
Ignoring dumb people isn't fun.
47
this was absolutely beautiful to read!
48
Loved this, especially the postscripts. I like "Aham" actually, especially considering it just means name. Gets the job done, fillet or no.
49
Great fucking story, kudos
50
I liked this. Was sad for the young boy missing a father, but am guessing he did better without the daily influence of a overbearing egomaniac.
51
As someone who also grew up without a father and was disappointed after making contact with said father, I loved and appreciated reading this story. Thank you very much for sharing this.
52
Nice job, sir.
53
nicely written. you are funny.
also don't sweat the dad thing, it has obviously made you great at thinking the way you think.
54
Ahamefule, this was a fucking WONDERFUL story!! Well done! A drink to our fathers is in order. I say we order them at a bar, leave them untouched, and go to another bar across town?
55
salute. this was really good. i am moved.

i had a strange relationship with my name and my father for a good portion of my life. i came to the same conclusion you did. stand proud, sir.
56
Thank you for sharing. That was a great read. I wish you the best. Your father missed out.
57
Thank you for sharing your story and thanks to the Stranger for publishing it
60
best piece of self reflective writing i've read in years. i'm proud of the man you are and i don't even know you! Bless you!
61
I really enjoyed your story, thanks for sharing. My heart went out to you at first, feeling your pain over missing your dad, and disappointing him. Then I came to the same conclusion you did. His abandonment of you made you the talented man you are today. So in some ways, he did shape your future. But remember, the only actions you control, are your own. So put the disappointment and misery behind, add some jokes to your act, and keep on going. Good wishes to you.
62
Beautiful! Thanks :)
63
Great story, would have like 600-700 more words tho
64
No relationship should be taken too seriously
Nervous Dad
65
My dad abandoned me in different ways, but I totally identify with your experience Aham. It felt good to read.
68
I absolutely love this piece. Being a Nigerian girl as well, I can understand the desire/ pressure to please our parents. But the only way to that is to please ourselves and be good at what we do; and in doing that we end up pleasing them in return. God Bless you and may you make Him proud instead.
69
That was so good! Wonderful piece. You rock, I'll be looking for more from Ahamefule now.
Reminds me of this quote:

The fifteen-year-old daughter of a friend once addressed the old Carl Jung as follows: “Herr Professor, you are so clever. Could you please tell me the shortest path to my life’s goal?” Without a moment’s hesitation Jung replied, “The detour!”
-Richard Kehl
70
Awesome essay. It added a lot to my morning:)
71
This was a wonderful story that broke my heart.
72
I love this story! I immediately went to your website to see if you are performing in the NYC area, but no... Will the world hear about it if you do head out East for a few shows?

Anyway, congratulations on all your revelations. You write wonderfully.
73
Well done & carry on sir. Can we fire charles m now??
74
Aham- You are amazing. You are talented, and you are beautiful.
( love Jon, Katie and Jack)
75
You sir, are a very talented and warm human being. Any dad, worth his salt, would be very proud to have you as a son.

My name is Steve West and I too am happy that I am who I am. :)
76
You never thought of just changing your surname?
Lots of kids I know of that same birth situation just drop the Nigerian last name since it has no 'family bond' worth with it, compels unideal questions/attention and that at least minimizes the dishonorable stigma.
I've seen people make it into a middle name or just dropped altogether.

Evidently your birth father couldn't be a better person but certainly gave life to one. Consider the surname change - sooo many people do.
77
Southern Addendum - On second thought, now that you're a bit of a published author/musician under that name... Ah WELL! Just ride it out. lol
78
Woooow, I also heard your story on "This American Life" and it struck such a deep chord. I have a very common (easily forgettable) name, but as a daughter of an absent father who I've deeply disappointed, I totally relate. Thank you for sharing your story!