Guest Column

We need to create good men out of our boys

2018-04-23 15:39
Kaizer Chiefs fans attack a security guard at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. (Screen grab via SABC)

Kaizer Chiefs fans attack a security guard at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. (Screen grab via SABC)

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Rams Mabote

When soldiers return from war, they get debriefed and demobilised.

Apartheid was war, low-key as it may have been. But sadly, hundreds of thousand who were involved, one way or another, were left to their own devices to come out of centuries of anger, dehumanisation, fear and violence.

Some have come out well. But others are currently destroying society. They are full of hate and anger. They also have huge bouts of self-hate which they express on their own.

Violence is also visited on the children and women, because they are perceived to be weak and defenceless.

We are a society that needs healing. Truth and reconciliation did not deliver that. Poor service delivery, lack of economic development, unemployment and continued poverty all abet and exacerbate the situation.

The violent scenes witnessed at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday evening, where fans of the losing Kaizer Chiefs invaded the pitch, vandalised property and assaulted, to a pulp, a security guard, attest to our culture of violence.

We are a society that breeds bad and violent men. We can choose to ignore this reality or even try to justify it, but it is fact.

Men abuse and rape women every day. Men maim and kill their girlfriends and wives. Boys harass girls at school. Women cannot walk or run in parks or on the roads without being harassed or fearing for their lives.

Astute men use their office to abuse and intimidate women at work. Leaders and teachers sleep with women much younger than their own children. Even men of the cloth abuse women in the name of God.

Are boys not vulnerable to?

Whereas, over the past two decades or so, society has done so much to reverse the injustices visited upon black people in general and women, these efforts are not matched by work to heal men, black men, of the ravages of a system that dehumanised them.

The government even created a ministry for women, children and people with disabilities, rightfully so. These groups remain most vulnerable to the violence and hate from us men.

But what about boys? Are they not vulnerable too?

Our boys, especially in the townships, still live with violence around them. They see their fathers attack and abandon their mothers. They hero worship criminals who vandalise and steal other people’s properties.

The boys still live in surroundings where the only solution to problems is violence. They see buildings being looted and torched during political unrest, much like the current situation in Mahikeng.

The language of violence and anger is normalised. There are no new pictures shown; no new stories told.

I argue that if we do not treat our boys as a vulnerable group, and focus some energy on them, we will continue to see this vicious cycle, where we develop women out of victimhood, but continuously – at least inadvertently – breed culprits that will victimise those women.

Culture of entitlement over women’s bodies

If we do not create programmes to create good men out of our boys, more girls will continue to quit school mid-term because of rape, abuse, prejudice and pregnancies by men who simply continue with their lives.

If we do not groom boys to become good men, the culture of "blessers" and sugar daddies will continue unabated. The culture of entitlement over women’s bodies and agency will be heightened.

What happened at Moses Mabhida is not unusual, nor is it a surprise. It happens every day. It will continue to happen unless we do something about it.

It is for this reason that I decided that I will not sit in my comfort zone and point fingers. I have started an initiative called Future Kings which aims to turn this tide, in whatever small way I can.

I have decided to go out into the country, reach as many boys as I can reach, to talk to them about their responsibility to society and how their actions can make or break our beautiful country.

Boys need to hear new stories. They need to hear that they can be "that guy" who is not a bully, a pervert, a drunk, an addict, a racist or a thief. And if not me to tell them that, then who?

We need a new beginning. We need to heal, especially our men. We need to demobilise, debrief and demilitarise them. We need a new social contract that speaks to how we relate to society, especially in distress. Anything short of this, our desired rise will continue to be delayed.

- Mabote is the Chief Volunteer Officer of the Rams Mabote Foundation.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    gender based violence


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