Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | September 28, 2009
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Father-daughter relationship - Yasus, Tanhoi have 'beautiful' debate
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Yasus Afari and his daughter, Tanhoi, at his album launch on August 13 at the Ashanti Oasis Vegeterian Restaurant at Hope Gardens in St Andrew. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

This is the first in a Positive Parenting series looking at the relationship that Jamaican fathers have with their daughters.

Yasus Afari's happiness and enthusiasm were evident at the Ashanti Oasis Vegetarian Restaurant, Hope Gardens, St Andrew, on a mid-August Thursday night. He unreservedly showed his delight not only in his new poetry CD, Kiss Mi Neck, which was being launched, but also with his daughter, Tanhoi, who had extensive involvement in the programme.

The latter included jolly banter about who was better looking, father and daughter eventually conceding that the other had their fine physical points. And Yasus was not joking when he said that he does no make certain business decisions without consulting Tanhoi.

It has been that way for a long time.

Great team

"From ever since, as they would say, 'from me eye deh a mi knee', I've been an integral part of not only the events, but also the planning and organising," Tanhoi Afari told The Gleaner. Yasus says "she is a consultant, she is an adviser. Is not true she a me daughter still; she is a brilliant human being. She is a thinker who understands me to a large extent, who me understand to a large extent, and who is creative and have suppen to offer. You have to value that, especially in light of the fact that is your daughter".

He remembers Tanhoi at 14 months giving him his signature greeting, 'honour!' - folded fist and all. Producer Philip 'Fattis' Burrell had asked Yasus to record a poem with him and he had been considering one with just that title so he saw it as "divine endorsement of what I was thinking".

Tanhoi's memories of being involved in poetry with her father go back to when she had a poem with the line "as young as I am, I know right from wrong" and performing it onstage with him in a white, red, green and gold outfit he had brought for her from an African trip. She was seven or eight years old. Yasus reminds her that she had recorded it when she was about six years old.

The major event that the two are involved in is the annual 'Poetry in Motion', held in Mandeville, Manchester. Tanhoi says "one evening I came home from school (Manchester High) and he is sitting down as usual, brainstorming something. He said, 'Tanhoi, come een'."

They consulted and the fusion of poetry, music and fashion is now firmly established on the entertainment calendar.

Strong organiser

The Gleaner asks Tanhoi if she is a strong organiser and, without missing a beat, she says, "I'm a very good one. I'm brilliant at it". As for the financial aspect of event planning, she says "I learnt from the best".

They laugh together.

Yasus thinks his daughter is "imaginative, creative, she is a humanitarian at heart, but she not sentimental as even I am in some respects. She has good communication skills, she is likeable and that helps".

And he concedes, "she is attractive, as she thinks, and I also think". They laugh again, louder and longer this time.

The Gleaner asks Tanhoi if she has ever been made to feel inadequate because she is female and she says, "no y'nuh! I have never had that issue in my life, anywhere, ever. People are always drawn to me and I have that presence, that male or female, it has an impact, and I always have a purpose".

Yasus says he has never wished for a son to fill the role that Tanhoi plays. "The day she was born, I rushed to the hospital. Interestingly, I wanted to be there to be supportive, but the nurses wouldn't have it. They encouraged me to go home. When I go and come back now, I didn't even contemplate of a girl name. When me say to her mother now, 'Him all right?' all she say is, 'She'. So me kinda leave her presence an' go hol' a meditation, and like Jah seh to me, Him know bes'. And me acknowledge that. An' it just turn around and we know seh a Jah blessing," he says.

Spiritual name

So the name that he had in mind for the baby, which was an emanation of his spiritual name, was transmuted to a feminine version and became Tanhoi. There was a Peter Tosh poetic tribute at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of the West Indies, Mona, where he said that she is the "female version, or perspective, of meself".

"People always say she look like me and me see that too - just that I am better looking than her," Yasus says and Tanhoi laughs.

"The debate continues," he says, laughing also.

He has observed her physical traits, also knows her philosophy and outlook, and Yasus tells The Gleaner he has seen the striking similarities and differences. "And you get that feeling ... I don't know how fe seh dis, that if I were a female, maybe that's the kind of female I would have been. So maybe she is the female rendition of your own self," he says.

Tanhoi says that for some reason, she is always the most confident person among her peers. "I find that a lot of females are less confident in themselves, not only because of the relationship they have or do not have with their father, but they allow other people to influence them. The way I was brought up, especially with Daddy, is to be strong, believe in you and make you happy all the time. I grew up with that ... I wish that on a lot of people. I wish people had that in themselves, so they can keep their heads up the way I do," she says.

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