Men-to-men: Be a man, my boy

Vuk'uzenzele - - General -

When *Tshepo Mofokeng was 10 years old, he wit­nessed the rape of his 17-year-old sis­ter.

While the armed at­tacker told the lit­tle boy to lie down and not watch, he can still hear his sis­ter’s screams.

Af­ter the at­tack, the man or­dered the sib­lings to run and not look back. As they painfully made their way home, his sis­ter made him prom­ise not to tell a soul of the rape. Mofokeng kept his word but the se­cret made him very bit­ter.

“As I grew up, I would see the rapist around Katle­hong and I grew more and more an­gry. I could not ac­cept that he was get­ting away with his ac­tions.”

When he was an older, strong teenager, Mofokeng could no longer cur­tail his rage, and he would as­sault his sis­ter’s at­tacker when­ever he saw him. He went from be­ing a peace­ful child to an an­gry youth.

Two things saved Mofokeng from his vi­o­lent path. Firstly, he was blessed with a fa­ther and older brother who knew that vi­o­lence was not the an­swer and while they did not know why Mofokeng was act­ing out, they were able to guide him back onto the straight and nar­row.

The sec­ond was the in­ter­ven­tion of rail­way po­lice who wit­nessed Mofokeng’s last at­tack

“The ma­jor­ity of men have BEEn In­flu­EnCED By pA­trI­ArCHy. THEy HAD BEEn beaten as a CHIlD AnD Do not see why tHEy sHoulD not raise their CHIl­DrEn In tHE

sAmE wAy.”

on his sis­ter’s rapist. The rapist was left with a bro­ken leg but when Mofokeng ex­plained to the rail­way po­lice what the man had done all those years ago, they de­cided to let the young­ster off with a warn­ing. The rapist was taken to hos­pi­tal and did not press charges.

At­tacks on women re­mained com­mon­place, how­ever, and Mofokeng was in­creas­ingly con­cerned. While a Pre­to­ria Tech­nikon stu­dent, he helped form a club to sen­si­tise men to their role in so­ci­ety and in 2004, he regis­tered the South African Men's Ac­tion Group (SAMAG) as a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion.

To­day, SAMAG has 10 full­time em­ploy­ees and a foot­print in Gaut­eng, the Free State, North West, Lim­popo and Mpumalanga. It is com­mit­ted to fos­ter­ing so­cial change.

Its pri­mary mes­sage is ‘Real men don’t abuse women’. “Real stands for Re­spon­si­ble, En­light­ened, Ar­che­typal (ex­em­plary) and Lov­ing,” said Mofokeng.

“The ma­jor­ity of men have been in­flu­enced by pa­tri­archy. They had been beaten as a child and do not see why they should not raise their chil­dren in the same way. In many cul­tures, men are dom­i­nant and women are seen as be­ing on the same level as chil­dren and there­fore it is seen as ac­cept­able to dis­ci­pline them in the same way,” said Mofokeng.

Ev­ery­one has a role to play in chang­ing mind­sets, said.

He be­lieves chil­dren should be raised with­out gen­der stereo­typ­ing. They should be treated as chil­dren rather than boys and girls and fa­thers should play a hands-on role in the chil­dren’s lives.

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