Father of the Nation
is an honorific title given to a man considered the driving force behind the establishment
of his country, state, or nation. Pater Patriae
(plural Patres Patriae), also seen as Parens Patriae
, was a Roman honorific meaning "Father of the Fatherland", bestowed by the Senate on heroes, and later on emperors. In monarchies, the monarch was often considered the "father/mother
of the nation" or as a patriarch
to guide his family. This concept is expressed in the Divine Right espoused in some monarchies, while in others it is codified into constitutional law
as in Spain, where the monarch is considered the personification and embodiment, the symbol
of the unity
and permanence of the nation. In Thailand, the monarch is given the same recognition, and demonstrated loyalty is enforced with severe
Many dictators bestow titles upon themselves, which rarely survive the end of their regime
. Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo's titles included "father of the nation", "older brother
", and "Guide of the People". Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire's included "Father of the nation", "the Guide", "the Messiah", "the Helmsman", "the Leopard", "the Sun-President", and "the Cock who Jumps on Anything That Moves". In postcolonial Africa, "father of the nation" was a title used by many leaders both to refer to their role in the independence movement as a source of legitimacy, and to use paternalist symbolism as a source of continued popularity. On Joseph Stalin's seventieth birthday in 1949, he was bestowed with the title "Father of Nations" for his establishment of "people's democracies" in countries occupied by the USSR after World War II.
The title "Father of the Nation" is sometimes politically contested. The 1972 Constitution of Bangladesh declared Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to be "father of the nation". The BNP government removed this in 2004, to the protests of the oppostition Awami League, led by Rahman's daughter
Sheikh Hasina. A motion in the Parliament of Slovakia to proclaim controversial pre-war leader Andrej Hlinka "father of the nation" nearly passed in September 2007.