My Father Taught Me How Not To Be A Man — Man Like Akindare

April 4, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to “be a man” from the perspective of the subject of the week.

Today’s Man Like subject is Akindare, a 30-year-old content strategist. He tells us about growing to fill the void left by his father, attending four universities and navigating vulnerability.

When did you first realise you were a man?

I suppose I’d say when I was eight or nine years old. Back then, I had my own keys to the house. My mother was practically a working single mother because my dad was hardly involved, so I had to come home from school myself. This went on until we were thrown out of the house because my father spent the rent my mother had given to him.


Yeah. My mom was the one with a steady job and she had barely saved up enough to make rent. She handed it over to my pops to pay, as per African tradition. He blew the money and we were evicted. 

My parents were married for six years. As far as their relationship was concerned, the eviction was the last of many straws that broke the camel’s back. He was around after, but we weren’t really a family again.


My dad was a fucking piece of work o. He womanised, hit my mom, was hardly ever present — all kinds of anyhowness. When they got married, my mom was a housewife. She ran a shop where she sold foodstuff. Then my dad lost his job and couldn’t secure another, so she closed her shop and found a civil service job to fend for my baby sister and me. She’d pay our school fees and give my dad the credit.

After they split up, she started to open up to me about things and talk to me like I was an adult. She’d tell me everything going on between her and my dad, and in those moments, I felt like I had stepped up to fill the space my dad left. 

I remember going with my mom to her office and all her colleagues would hail me “ọkọ mummy e,” “The man of the house.” I had the kind of independence I don’t imagine many kids at that age would have had. At the time, I didn’t know I was being a man; I just knew there was a void and I was being groomed to fill it.

Wow. Your parents split up after the rent incident?

Yes, though that was going to be the first of many splits. When he left the house, it was basically just me and my mom. There were short periods of time where he’d come back to live with us, but they were separated from when he got us evicted. It took almost one year for my mom to raise money for us to rent again. 

Do you have any fond memories of your dad?

People say I hardly talk about my dad but that’s just because there’s nothing to talk about. I don’t know the nigga, he doesn’t know me. The faintest bit of memory I have of him was when I was younger and he’d take me to Quranic school because he was a Muslim. Even when he was around, we never had much to talk about. 

It annoys me when people ask me to invest in our relationship because “family is family, blood is blood” and all that shit. That ship has sailed, I’m 30 fucking years old. He should be the one hustling to be in my life, not the other way round. There’s nothing I’m getting out of this. If he had one money or connection, maybe I would be hustling for his affection. But as it is, there’s no upside for me. If he makes an effort, why not?

Interesting. Do you think his absence shaped your character?

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with him. Do I wish that he was present and he did everything better? Yes. But am I mad he wasn’t there? Not anymore. Because eventually, it all turned out fine without him. My mom’s doing okay, my sister is finding her way. The only thing I might hold against him is that life was much harder than it should have been. The hardship also helped build my character and the type of man I am today. His whole existence taught me how not to be a man. It taught me problem-solving skills as I had to be independent early on. All those struggles were beneficial in some way.

Ultimately, his absence means I’ve grown independent. I learned to solve problems myself. I love my mother, but I’ll have to be dying before asking her for help. 

Wow. You were quite self-sufficient.

Yeah. I went to a military boarding school. After that, I went to four different universities where I mostly fended for myself. Shout out to my mom, she did what she could but N15k is not a lot of money when you’re in a private uni for a whole month. I was already running some small businesses – being a middleman, reselling clothes, writing gigs here and there, promoting parties.

Four universities? How did that happen?

I gained admission into the University of Ilorin. In my second year, some lecturer had problems with me because I was with some babe he had his eyes on. He failed me twice. My mom even came to the school to beg him, but he refused. My mother was like, “You know what? Pack your things. There’s no point wasting your time here.” 

Next, I went to Ajayi Crowther University. In my second year again, there was a riot in school because someone died. Parts of the school were burnt down and the school was closed. When school resumed, they hiked up the fees and my mother couldn’t afford it anymore. Again, I left. 

At this point, I was tired of writing JAMB, so I went to the Benin Republic. I spent some time at Oudegebe North American University, but every so often, they’d lose accreditation for their courses. At this point, I was only going to school because of my mom. She was so insistent that no matter what, I had to get a degree. She kept me going.

I left Oudegebe University and went to Ecole Superieure Sainte Felicite University, also in Benin, where I got my degree in IT Management in 2015.

Interesting. What’s your job like?

I work in editorial strategy and comms for an international non-profit organization that’s dedicated to ending world poverty by 2030. My job is colourful. On some days, I’m a journalist investigating stories, doing interviews, analysis, research etc. On some days, I’m doing corporate communications like writing emails to be sent to CEOs and governments. On some other days, I’m a copywriter working on decks and presentations. On other days, I’m a strategist, thinking about how to pass a message across or campaign on an issue. I enjoy my work here knowing that story I covered or an article I wrote can affect one or two people in a positive way is super powerful to me.

I also run a consulting company where we do marketing comms, brand management, content marketing etc.

Based on your experience, I’m curious about what you think of toxic masculinity. 

Like a lot of concepts, people interpret it differently. I think toxic masculinity is many ideas that aren’t beneficial to men but which men seem hell-bent on perpetuating. For example, not being able to be vulnerable or talk about your feelings. The aversion to talking about feelings and labelling feelings as feminine is what I define as toxic masculinity. 

Has anything threatened your idea of what you consider toxic masculinity?

I grew up around a lot of women and my idea of masculinity is not really influenced by a regular Nigerian man’s idea of what masculinity is. Like crying, for example.

Interesting. When was the last time you cried?

I think that was in January. I don’t cry a lot, but I was going through a lot in my personal life — my relationships, family, job — it was just a lot. I like to think I’m a sensitive person but not much of a crier. It’s not a lack of vulnerability, I just don’t express my emotions that way.

Do you have any fears?

One of my biggest fears is not being able to afford a comfortable life. I just want to be able to afford the things that give me joy. Because of my childhood, being pensive about money stresses me out so much. I hate having to borrow or scramble for money to afford what I want. Imagine I’m 40 and broke? It’s why I’m always trying to acquire new skill sets and work in all kinds of places. I just want to be able to give myself, my mom and my people a decent life.

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Olufemi Fadahunsi

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

November 18, 2020

If you’re here wondering the secret to the appeal of Nigerian men, welcome: 1) Sweet mouth Nigerian men open a conversation with “you look familiar” and end with “I can’t live without you.” When Nigerian men give their sweetness attack, you defend. Or reset your defense. 2) Dress sense Ice on their neck. Ice on […]

September 18, 2020

Sony just announced the prices of their new home video game console, PlayStation 5 and the world is loving it. Starting from $500 for the PS5 and $400 for the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, there’s a lot of anticipation for the long-awaited game console. If you’re interested in getting a PS5, but you don’t have […]

February 3, 2021

Valentine is coming again and, as usual, Nigerian women a particular set of people are getting ready to furnish their men with the usual gifts we see every year. I’ve decided to save you the trouble and make a list of things Nigerian men don’t want to receive this year. If you really want to […]


Now on Zikoko

June 19, 2021

The subject of this week’s Sex Life is a 27-year-old heterosexual woman who rarely has sex. She talks about almost getting married to an ex boyfriend who betrayed her trust by cheating on her multiple times and how this experience shaped her interest in sex.

June 19, 2021

There are friends you’ve had for years and those you have had for a short while, but how old is your longest friendship? Let’s find out: Relationships can be hard, and sometimes you just need someone to give you a bit of advice. Ask Ozzy is our new advice column where you send Zikoko the […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

More from Man Dem

June 17, 2021

Everyone has those small, seemingly minor things that turn them off people, commonly called an “ick”. We spoke to seven men about what their unforgivable, weirdest ick is and they had some hilarious answers. Dave People who are too eager are my biggest icks. Maybe it’s my fear of commitment, but the more someone makes […]

June 13, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to […]

June 10, 2021

The story of the 10 Plagues of Egypt you read in the Bible was scary but it didn’t tell of all the plagues. There was one more it failed to mention. No, it’s not COVID-19. It’s women coming to your house and stealing your clothes. The reason why your money is running out is because […]

June 9, 2021

If you’re a Nigerian man, you probably grew up hearing that there are things you shouldn’t talk about because men don’t talk about things like that. Well, we’re here to tell you that they lied. These are six things you should never be afraid to talk about. 1. Our failures Here’s the thing: Everybody fails […]

June 9, 2021

The Twitter ban has affected a lot of people and businesses in different ways. We tend to overlook the impact Twitter has had in various aspects of our lives. One of such aspects is relationships. I spoke to 6 Nigerian men who found love on Twitter. They had such interesting stories. Tosin We had been […]

June 2, 2021

Fat people in Nigeria go through a lot of abuse and degradation from society at large. It seems they get no respite from the constant passive aggression and fatphobia. The male perspective on this topic isn’t often heard, so we talked to 5 men about what it was like to be fat in Nigeria. Tolu […]

June 2, 2021

We don’t hear enough stories about men being heartbroken or dumped even though we all know it happens. Today, we spoke to four Nigerian men on the worst ways they’ve been dumped. Tokunbo, 24. I had this lady, we had been dating for about a year or so. I was still in uni then and […]

May 31, 2021

When most Nigerians hear ‘submissive’ in the context of a relationship, they envision a woman. However, this isn’t always the case. Many men are subs in the bedroom and many have embraced that and are living very happy sex lives. Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to several people I knew who were […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.