By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
6.21.15: Philadelphia– (Lifestyle): “Every day is Father’s Day,” remarked Mr. Paul “Ogbonna” Hagins, as we sat and talked in a shady section of concrete adjacent to South Street, near a small babbling water foundation that attracted a few, young playful hands.
Mr. Hagins, the former publisher of Philly Word Live Magazine, a print publication that covered both local and national hip-hop music, tells me that he interacts with his sons daily – either by phone or in person – and that being a good father, which he declares he is, comprises of intentionally putting children in great environments; teaching them principles and values; spending quality time and communicating often.
“I couldn’t imagine just spending once a week with my children,” he said, alluding to traditional custody agreements which, more often that not, grants the father visitation rights on the weekends. “I see them at least four times a week,” he added.
An example of Mr. Hagins’ attachment to his family is memorialized in a photo taken in 2011 that shows him leading a small march and protest against Bank of America with his youngest son, now age five, strapped to his back.
In 2014, Mr. Hagins’ accompanied his twin boys, Atamanu and Atamosi, to The Brothers’ Network annual soirée at the Suzanne Robert Theater on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City Philadelphia.
He sat in the audience and gleamed with pride watching his sons, both graduates of Masterman High School, entertain a room full of art and culture aficionados.
“I knew in high school that I was going to encourage my children to engage in classical music,” said Mr. Hagins, who was overcome with that familiar gleam of pride as we talked about his sons’ trip to Italy, which is a result of them being a part Philadelphia’s All-City Orchestra, an accomplishment that has become routine for the Hagins twins, who, despite their success as a dynamic duo, will be going to separate colleges to enhance their vocal cords with aspirations to become Opera singers.
Mr. Hagins continued:
“I got them into classical music so that they’d be engaged in something other than basketball and football, but they fell in love with it. If I knew what I know now, I would’ve started them with instruments when they were three, the age they started reading.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Hagins is pretty sure his twins are geniuses, though they would never admit it, as humility has been their defining characteristic since Kindergarten, when they would quickly hide their A+ papers as to not make others feel less than.
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“They blow me away,” he said.
The twins, who call Mr. Hagins “Baba,” which means father in Swahili, both wear their hair locked and have never questioned the afro-centric manner in which they were raised.
And in accordance with his spiritual and culture behavior, Mr. Hagins said he waited three months after the birth of his twins before naming them.
Atamosi means male twin born first and Atamanu means male twin born second. Their middle names also have meanings in Swahili, such as quiet warrior, prowess of a lion and image of his father.
For the first three months of their lives, said Mr. Hagins, we called them moja and mbili, which mean one and two in Swahili.
“We didn’t name them until we learned their personalities; who they were and where we wanted them to go,” he said.
Given his unique approach to parenting and the fact that its led to the growth of successful young men, I asked Mr. Hagins what is advice to young fathers. His answer surprised me.
“I wouldn’t advise men in their teens and early twenties to have children. I wouldn’t have been the same father if I had children at 21; I hadn’t even traveled until I was 22. By 31, I had traveled and worked multiple jobs.”
Mr. Hagins, 49 and self-employed, said when men do have kids, they should know about the world and study past and present newsworthy events to know where their children can be placed.
A parenting guru of sorts, Mr. Hagins is anxiously waiting for June 22nd, which to most people is Monday, but to Mr. Hagins its Father’s Day, because in his world, everyday is Father’s Day.
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