Musings of a millennial man
Men worry about feminism, as if a culture of women’s rights is about to stamp out male identity. But in reality as men, we are our own worst enemies. Men generally do not have a problem with the rise of women, if they are convinced that their own influence and social status are secure. Nowadays, male activists have turned every discussion on the subject of men into a cesspool of misogyny. But why? Where have we lost it?
The real problem is that as men we die silently. I suppose this can in part be blamed on society because growing up we are conditioned to suppress our problems and taught that real men do not talk about them, instead of being encouraged to seek guidance from other men who have been there and done that; who can guide us in the life journey. Men die silently in depression, and we have been cultured that it is unAfrican for a man to talk about issues, when it’s solely a men issue. Depression affects people at all points on the social scale and we feed our silence with more deafening silence, and eventually depression destroys our lives regardless of which chromosomes we have. As men, we are ridiculously poor in handling mental problems. Women on the other hand are likely to seek help from experts, but as men we are specialists at pretending that nothing is wrong – even when we are dying slowly on the inside.
Research has shown that suicide is the single largest killer of men; hence we are more likely to take our own lives, than be killed by someone else.
To tackle these issues in Swaziland, we have Kwakha Indvodza (Building men) – a NGO pioneered by Tom Churchyard in 2012 mandated to building men, promoting social cohesion and tackling issues affecting males.
The organisation believes that the time for a national conversation about how to disentangle masculinity from violence is long overdue.
When it comes to violence, while men are often the perpetrators, they are also victims. The problem is rooted in childhood. In our African societies, boys are most likely to be beaten at school than girls. Parents also encourage fights between boys, as affirmed by Joe MacCannon when he said: “Every young man can relate to the enigma of being told to punch that boy that insulted you, so it’s no great leap to reach adulthood thinking violence is the right response to, well everything. And since culture loves to reward aggression, in adulthood it is easy to see why unlearning that lesson might be next to impossible”
Education prepares children for life in the cultures into which they are born, giving them the tools and knowledge that they need to survive in their physical and social realities. This means moving beyond literacy and numeracy, to focus on learning environments and on new approaches to learning for greater justice, social equity and global solidarity. This phenomenon seems to be working against men.
In America, 60% of bachelor’s degrees are acquired by women, and men are trailing behind. Could the tradition approach to masculinity be the cause of this destructive trend?
Founder of Kwakha Indvodza Churchyard, notes that Kwakha Indvodza has a Social Entrepreneurship and Income Generation (SEIG) initiative that is becoming a necessary escape route for out of school and unemployed young men. This is to help them become semi-skilled workforce and have the ability to take care of their families. This would consequently improve the standard of living in their communities, and therefore be self-reliant. This is done through work shadowing and the upcoming annual Emachawe Akusasa (Leaders of Tomorrow) Smart Life Choices Fair 2017. This initiative gives young men the opportunity to apply for bursaries and scholarships to access universities, colleges and companies for work shadowing and employment opportunities.
The organization also has the Lihawu Mentoring Camp which seeks to eliminate the seriousness of issues faced by men through encouraging talks between a father and son. It further seeks to improve the relationship between a father and his son in discussions about life issues in a more engaging and meaning way.
All in all it is hard being a man and as journalist Ally Fogg said “The truth is that even if every single feminist of every single flavour abandoned feminism today and went back to bed with a good book for the rest of her life, it would make barely a jot of difference to the real and significant problems facing men..”
Facebook: Kwakha Indvodza
By: Thabiso Mnisi @MrThabisoM