Presented below is Nkechi Onuora’s audio response to Beverley Bennett’s film Simon Says / Dadda.
Simon Says / Dadda is a collaborative film exploring father/daughter relationships together with Black and Asian women and non-binary individuals from across the UK. As part of the national tour of the work this Summer, Beverley invited one of the Liverpool participants to share her own reflections on the project’s themes and her own journey as part of this. Here, she returns on foot to her childhood home and the neighbourhoods that shaped her, reflecting on the complexity and profound influence of her father.
“How do you reckon with the humanity of your father? The good, the bad and the grey? How do you hold someone you love dearly in high esteem and acknowledge how their actions hurt you? Sometimes, there are more questions than answers. As I speak openly and vulnerably about my relationship with my father and how I still grapple with the effect he had on me, I try my best to find the answers to these questions and more. The beautiful path Simon Says / Dadda has created for me is nothing short of ancestral work: an opportunity to undo intergenerational harm and replace it with intergenerational healing, by openly speaking about the sweetness and struggles of the father/daughter relationship, so that others within the lineage and the community at large, can learn from their mistakes and do better.
It’s important to acknowledge that the aspects of my relationship with him that I speak about come from a complex place. I see his humanity and I still believe my family and I deserved better from him. This project is not to tarnish his name, but to show the aspects of a man, who from my own perspective, was beautifully complicated. Basically, human. I love him and miss him dearly, my heart aches at the thought of him no longer existing in the physical form. There’s so much I could write about this project and the journey it took me on. Truth be told, I’m still on that journey of honouring every moment, as I delve deep into my relationship with my father and how it’s affected me today.
Hopefully, this project inspires you to hold space not just for the complexities and nuances of the father figure(s) in your life, but yourself as well. So, come take a walk with me, open your heart (and your ears) and listen to my ruminations of how I do my best to understand my dad and what each environment told me about who he was.”
Trigger warnings: racism, grief, loss of loved one, toxic masculinity, gentrification.