Guest Column

On Babes Wodumo and the good men who abdicate their responsibility

2019-03-06 05:00
Babes Wodumo (Photo: Gallo)

Babes Wodumo (Photo: Gallo)

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You are complicit. You have abdicated your responsibilities to some other entity that you believe is responsible to hold order in your own land, writes Namhla Mniki.

Dear good men,

Here is why it is difficult for us to take you seriously when you say you are for us.

I often remember, with painful nostalgia, a time in our history when it was the responsibility of men to set the standard of how other men are to behave. In those days, real men did not hesitate to decide what behaviours were acceptable and which were not; and further hold accountable those men who chose to rebel against that standard. 

Among my own people, the Xhosa, women had very little to do with policing men; because it was the job of other men to ensure that there is order in society, and that the community was generally safe. The important right of passage known as initiation was where some of this was established, so that when a boy became a man, he was clear what was expected of him. This principle has always been wide-spread across African societies.

Today, as we are left reeling from the violent clip of musician Babes Wodumo being attacked by Mandla Maphumulo aka "Mampintsha", I am flabbergasted by some of the responses coming especially from men who are supposed to be the protective cloak for any society. 

Let me talk to you for a minute… respectfully, but with some hard truths.

To the 'good' men who ask, why did she not leave him a long time ago

Your problem is that you think society is going to be better if she simply leaves, as if a rogue like this is not going to simply shift focus and find another victim to abuse. Your problem is that you assume that if she leaves him, she will remain alive – despite the fact that statistics tell us that women who leave are often in more danger and sometimes are killed for leaving. 

Your mistake is to think that it is HER action that will change things. You have removed your eye from the real issue. The real issue is that we have a monster in our midst. In fact, we have multitudes of them; and it is your role as a man, together with your peers, to remove the monster among us, so that we and our children do not have to worry about facing these kinds of dangers.

To the 'good' men who say he must turn himself in and be thrown in jail

You have assumed that he, after proving over and over again that he is a delinquent, will simply present himself to the legal system to take responsibility for his actions. Really? What happened to the calibre of men who would say, "leave it to us, we will find him, teach him his lesson, and then bring him to the legal system to face justice". What happened to men who understood that handling one man keeps the rest in check so that they understand what is coming should they go delinquent?

To the 'good' men who say government must intervene

Who is government? Where are they? What miracle powers do you think they have that they must suddenly take care of everything – even those things that are in fact your responsibility. There are about 2.2 million civil servants in South Africa – i.e. people employed by government across all departments. There are 160 000 police officers according to 2017 data, servicing a population of just under 58 million. Is that the government that should have capacity to play even the role that you are supposed to be playing to protect your children, your sisters, your cousins, your wives, your mothers?

You are complicit. You have abdicated your responsibilities to some other entity that you believe is responsible to hold order in your own land. 

You have forgotten who you are.

#Senditshilo. #BigSisAfrica. #StopViolenceAgainstWomen

PS: To the good men who are standing in the gap and playing their role, thank you. We appreciate you.

- Namhla Mniki is a global influencer, expert, teacher, and speaker on leadership, social transformation and sustainable development.  She leads African Monitor, Big Sis Africa and KB Media.  

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