Father’s Day: About my Dad

Derek Watts
By Derek Watts | Follow @DerekWatts
Derek Watts has been a journalist for nearly 30 years, presenting on South African television since 1985 as a sports anchor. Derek has been an anchor and presenter on Carte Blanche since the programme's inception in 1988. See full profile

My father, Basil Havelock Watts, was a tough, straight-talking man with few social graces and no time for small talk.

(Listen as Derek reads his blog.)

Starting out as a boilermaker on the ships, he worked his way up the ranks to become the Managing Director of an engineering company in Bulawayo.

His only vague link with the media was writing regular letters, laced with some rather dry humour, to the daily newspaper. So it was rather ironic that he was elected chairman of the broadcasting corporation – a position he was justly proud of.

Despite his crowded calendar, my father found time to film my rugby matches (in the Hamilton High E team!), build me a superb canoe out of plywood and canvas, and advise me on how to change the piston rings on my rusty Triumph Speed Twin motorbike.

And his trust in me was unbelievable. He slept on the back seat  while I drove his canary yellow BMW from Bulawayo to Joburg at the age of 14 and dropped me in Hillbrow for the day while he attended business meetings!

While I was a lackadaisical scholar (to put it kindly) he was bursting with pride when I became an infantry officer, a cadet reporter with the local newspaper and then a reporter with SABC TV1 News.

But these were very different times. At school the headmaster wielded a stinging cane with admirable skill, the art teacher preferred a cricket stump and my father opted for a heavy leather belt.

When I had a motorbike accident near my Mother Edna’s bowling club, I struggled to the green where she was skipping a tight match. She arranged a lift to hospital for me, but was soon delivering her next wood.

It’s not that my parents didn’t love me or my brother Roy and sister Gaynor. They would do anything for us and we were no doubt the light of their lives.

But it was an era when kids tended to be independent and, apart from the Sunday dinner with roast and three veg, we would engage in the important things in life. Like meeting friends on the

streets and throwing rocks on the neighbours’ roofs!

And it was not a time of expressing emotions freely. Or discussing sex and relationships. It was all a matter of trial and error.

So, sadly, I never told my dad how much I appreciated all he did for me. How he set such a truly unblemished example of fatherhood and encouraging his son through some tough times.

How he supported me in every decision I made. Even moving back from Jo’burg, where I was the marketing manager for a large plastics company, to be an apprentice scribe for the Herald newspaper in Harare at a quarter of the salary.

Despite his crowded calendar, my father found time to film my rugby matches (in the Hamilton High E team!).

My father would have been over the moon to have seen Carte Blanche and the work our team has done over 26 years. But he passed away a few years before I teamed up with Ruda Landman.

So all I want to say is… Dad you were the most amazing father I could have wished for.

And I can say now, for the first time, that I love you. I really love you.