Music producer and singer, Paul I.K Dairo, otherwise called Paul Play, talks about his lessons of fatherhood with TOLUWANI ENIOLA
What age did you become a father?
I became a father in my mid-twenties.
You became a father at an age that can be considered young. Was there a reason for that?
I have always believed that it is good to have children when you are in your 20s. I think it’s quite easier to nurture them when you are still young. Some people believe they have to attain the age 40 before they can have children. I don’t think that is good enough.
Where were you when your wife gave birth to your first child?
My wife gave birth in the UK but I was in Nigeria at the time. But my mother was with her then. I was a bit apprehensive because it was my first child. I believed in God so I entrusted the delivery to His hands. I knew my child and wife would be fine. I wished I were with her in the UK but owing to the nature of my work in Nigeria at the time, I couldn’t go.
How did you feel holding your first child?
There is a special feeling that comes with being a father. I was excited and felt proud of the opportunity to bring a child to the world. I was excited about the fact that I could see my daughter. I realised that women really deserve a lot of care and attention and they need to be well supported. Women go through a lot; from the pains of pregnancy, giving birth, working, cooking and raising the children. I think we need to celebrate our women more. I really appreciated my wife more for giving me a beautiful child.
How did your career as a musician prepare you for fatherhood?
The music business is really demanding. I was not really prepared for fatherhood because raising a child is a different kettle of fish. Music business takes time and demands focus. It also demands travelling as well as working on your craft, etc. The greatest challenge is creating time to be with my children at all times owing to the nature of my work. So, every time I get to spend with them, I always make the best of it. I was not really prepared to juggle fatherhood with the hectic schedule but after a while, I got used to the new life.
What did you learn from your father?
My father was a lover of God. He took God first in what he did. He was a pastor in the Cherubim and Seraphim Church. Many people respected him because of his relationship with God. They called him Baba Aladura. He was a disciplinarian and this kept us on our toes. He was very generous and ensured unity amongst his fellow musicians. I learnt many things from him. He didn’t know I was going to do music. He always told me to watch him while he was recording his songs.
At what point did you decide to go into music?
I didn’t decide to do music until after I left school. I never actually gave music a thought. I was working in Shell for a while. But right from school, I was involved in music production. I was trained as an engineer. At a point, I realised music was what I really love doing. I got a lot of commendation from friends on the stuff I do. Some of them said, “Why don’t you go into music fully since you are good at it.” Then I was recording songs for artistes.
I started producing some artistes in the mainstream such as Tony Tetuila (Anthony Awotoye) and others. I asked God for direction in what I was doing. I got a direction from Him to go into it. I never regretted the decision.
Are you encouraging your children to go into music?
I am a liberal person. I don’t believe in pushing people in the direction they might not like to go. My father didn’t foist music on me. One of my children is actually toeing the path. She is into production, video editing, etc.
What do you think are the challenges of raising children in Nigeria?
One of the challenges is that you want the child to be well educated. The quality of education in Nigeria gives one concern. If you want to raise a child properly, you need to actually get a good education for the child. It’s the most important duty of fathers. It’s a big challenge now because not many can afford to send their children to private schools where the standard is a bit better.
What kind of father are you at home?
I am just a comedian to my kids. We play a lot and hang out. I put them in their place when they misbehave. I live with them as friends and even watch TV and cartoons with them. Because I am close to them, they open up to me on some things they do on the Internet and so on. We are like friends. We have a good sense of humour. At home, there is no dull moment.
What do your children say when they watch you on TV?
Funnily enough, they don’t want people to know that they are my children. They try to hide their identities. That was the same thing that happened to me when I was young. I was very shy and didn’t want people to know my father was a musician. That also rubbed off on my children. They didn’t show interest in my song but sometimes I asked for their opinion. They are not really into what I do, not that they don’t like what I do. They are music enthusiasts.
How do you discipline your children?
I can’t remember spanking my children. If I did that, it would probably be once and that was an extreme case. I don’t think that parents should spank their kids. I am just lucky to have children who are obedient. They know when I am playing and serious. If I am in Nigeria and they are in the UK, and their mother tells me something they do wrong, they take my instructions seriously and they stay out of trouble.
What are you most happy about as a father?
The fact that my children are doing fine gives me joy. I get good reports from their teachers and principals. They don’t put me in a situation where my role as a father is put into question. They are bubbly all the time.
Is there anything they tease you about?
They probably have a nickname for me but I don’t know (laughs). Maybe I will ask them what they call me when I am not around. I am sure they have one for me. But they tease me for being left-handed. They ask me if I could try and use my right hand.
What do you want your kids to learn from you moving through life?
They need to be humble, always be sincere, honest and try to always respect the views of others.
How do you manage to be a successful musician and father?
Sometimes, I cancel some events and reschedule them so I can meet the demands of the home front. Fathers need to spend time with their children. When you miss that role and they grow up, it becomes a problem.
How did your children react when you took ill and went abroad for treatment?
They visited me from Lagos. By that time, I had done the operation. The first thing my daughter said was, “Daddy what happened to you?” She was screaming. The younger one told me, “Daddy, don’t worry, you will be fine.” I held on to that statement. It helped me to regain strength within. When I was in South Africa, they really supported me.
Some believe fathers are to provide for the home while mothers take care of the home. Do you agree with this?
That is for the generation before ours. Yes, it is right because that’s what the Bible says. I believe that the man must provide for the home but in this millennium, things have changed. Women are playing important roles in their different careers. These days, you see that a husband and wife are both working and each of them brings something to the table. What I am afraid about is this: when a man is doing a lot to feed his family, what happens when business goes down for the man? If you are married to a home-maker, and the business goes down for the man, the whole family will be in trouble. Things have changed but a man must be a man.
Is there anything you would love to do differently as a father?
I would have loved to be a billionaire so I can take care of my children better. That is what I would love to do differently (laughs).
Do you and your wife have different views on how children should be raised?
I always want to train my children the way my father trained me. My father was disciplined. He taught us not to pry into other people’s business. He taught us not to be envious of other people’s success. He did not spend too much on us. He didn’t spoil us with affluence. My kids were born in the UK and they want to enjoy a lifestyle that I am not too comfortable with. I always try to caution them. I tell my wife, “No, they can’t have all they want because when they grow older, when we are not there, and they are not able to get those things, they might just bow to pressure.” I actually make sure they don’t get all they want. Life is not like that. Sometimes you get, and sometimes, you don’t. When you don’t have, you have to be patient to get it.
How do you celebrate Christmas
We always celebrate Christmas outside Nigeria. Sometimes, we travel to Dubai and the UK. Christmas is always a time we spend time together and be merry.
You have not been active in the music industry. What do you do these days?
Yes, I have not been active in the mainstream music industry. That does not mean I have abandoned music. I still perform at parties and record albums. I am coming out with an album soon. I am recording a double album to make up for the lost time.