Toys for boys leads to toxic men, book fair told

2016-09-11 06:04
Alison Lowry discusses issues around masculinity with Don Pinnock, Nakhane Touré and Ekow Duker. Picture: Biénne HUISMAN

Alison Lowry discusses issues around masculinity with Don Pinnock, Nakhane Touré and Ekow Duker. Picture: Biénne HUISMAN

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A talk on masculinity at the Open Book Fair in Cape Town drew gasps and cheers when award-winning musician Nakhane Touré dismissed toy guns as “psychotic”.

The 28-year-old singer from Alice in the Eastern Cape recently collaborated with star DJ and producer Black Coffee – real name Nkosinathi Maphumulo – on his album Pieces of Me, which was released last month.

Touré is outspoken about being gay, both in his art and in media interviews.

On Friday, the discussion had turned to “toxic masculinity” – the idea that men are socialised to be macho, aggressive and to repress their emotions and vulnerable sides.

Responding to a question from the audience, Touré said: “As a queer growing up in the Eastern Cape, I observed that all the other little boys had water guns. I participated in this game, because it was what everybody did.

“However, at some point I was old enough to realise I was actually just not interested in guns. I realised just how psychotic it is. That mentality is drilled into boys: to kill, to dominate ... It’s in the fabric of our society, and it’s wrong.”

Touré revealed that after being adopted when he was seven years old, he was mainly raised and educated by women.

“Often, it’s men who go into communities and screw things up,” he said.

The singer added that gender roles should not be cast in stone: “We’ve been inundated with binary ideas: What it is to be a man. What it is to be a woman. We need to make room for nuances. Please allow men to have some feminine traits.”

Touré’s debut novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues, was released in September last year. It tells the story of Davide, who leaves Johannesburg to live with his uncle Ndimphiwe in the Eastern Cape.

On Friday, Touré was joined on stage by Johannesburg-based author Ekow Duker, and travel writer and novelist Don Pinnock from Cape Town.

Pinnock told the audience that his father had been a policeman, and that most of his life had been a reaction to the “aggressive masculinity” he had observed as a child.

Open Book hosted scores of speakers ranging from embattled Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder, who wrote the teenage philosophy novel Sophie’s World, at The Fugard Theatre and the Book Lounge in Cape Town this week.

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Read more on:    open book festival  |  masculinity  |  books

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