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How I confirmed my Dad actually came first



It is no longer news that all dads came first during their school days. What is news is that not all have shown us their certificates. In the rear cases that we have seen of our politicians recently, it is either the grades were not there, they are still been awaited decades after they graduated or they are been confused with NEPA bills. In a particular case trending on social media, a dad was scolding his kid on his poor performance, claiming how he used to come first during his days.One day, the kid stumbled on a rumpled paper behind the family cupboard that turned out to be the old man’s primary school result. The result was so poor but the man had been telling his kid a different story about his performance and he quickly changed the narrative.


For me, I had always known that my dad was not in that league of “lie lie” daddy’s. I knew he was and is still smart from his various counsel he gives to us; his children, relatives, general contributions to our village and town development meetings. I could picture him as being one of the ones “dem dey rush” in those days. “Na dem dey rush us”! no be today.


So I read a book titled “The Path between the Seas” by David McCullough which chronicles the events surrounding the building of the Panama Canal in South America. I particularly did not understand what was meant by a “Lock Canal” when I read the book, neither did I understand the alternative which was a Sea level canal. So I asked Mr. Google and he described the concept of a Lock canal. Youtube explained it further with videos of how the ships get lifted by buoyancy to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, given the different levels of the oceans. It was a completely new phenomenon for me as I did not major in anything close to civil or marine engineering. It reminded me of when I ran into a concept that I totally did not understand nor could comprehend during my Masters Program. I had read about an averaging method called “cubic spline” and desired to use it to model my data. Behold, I read and re-read the description of the method but was unfortunately unable to understand how to implement the concept that I ran to a colleague whom I knew thinks in “ten dimensions”. He gave me the algorithm and noted he had used it before.


When I finished reading the book, I took it along on a visit to my father who was not feeling too well due to his old age. I gave it to him to read as a way of cheering him up and asked him whether he knew about the Panama Canal. I could see him delighted to have the conversation about the book as he sat up on the sofa where he was initially lying down. He confirmed he knew about it and even that of the Suez. I then asked whether he knew what a “Lock canal” was. He read civil engineering and had done a lot of bridge construction. The ease with which he described the concept in simple terms elated my spirit. He said “is it not the concept where a ship is lifted with the help of the buoyancy of water”. I smiled in confirmation that he was right as we moved on to other things. That test confirmed it for me that I did not need to see his report cards anymore to believe in his intelligence and capacity as an engineer.


As simple as that test is, you would be surprised the number of civil or marine engineers that do not understand the concept. Infact I have started using it as test to confirm the “smartness quotient” of my civil engineer friends. God help you if you do not know what a “Lock canal” is and you call yourself a civil engineer and my friend. I had used a similar method of simple description to rate the “intelligence quotient” of visitors to my house in Lagos. Then as usual Nigerian houses with no direct address, coming to my house means you enter the gate, turn left, right and then left to meet the house. I will then describe this sequence to intending visitors and see if they will simply show up at the gate or will need further guidance. Those that need further guidance were rated low as far as my meter was concerned.


So far, my test for knowledge of “Lock canal” amongst my friends has recorded no success and I hope to give them make-up test after reading this essay. At least I am confident to say that my dad is one of the smartest people on earth, came first during his school days and I have proof of it. For those of us that have the privilege of having our dads still alive, it would be nice if we can all carry out some test on our dads too to confirm instead of treating everything as family affair!




Obidike Peter wrote from www.peterobidike.com and p_obidike@yahoo.com


Saturday 25th August 2018


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