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Men must invest in the black boy child for good of society

Mbuyiselo Botha Gender Imbizo
Men's roles in fighting gender-based violence extends into their communities. / Daniel Born
Men's roles in fighting gender-based violence extends into their communities. / Daniel Born

I recently participated in a dialogue hosted by Golf and Beyond (GAB) - a voluntary association of highly skilled and accomplished men, who are also golfers. The club engages in various initiatives, and gender-based violence has formed part of these.

They have begun a series of dialogues to better understand issues at play so that their responses are well informed and positively contribute in the fight against GBV.

I was tasked with tackling the discussion on how men are contributing to this scourge and what the best responses might be from the perspective of men.

Some of the more "obvious" ways men contribute are physical abuse, emotional abuse, rape and violence. I chose to speak about the importance of keeping each other accountable in the roles they play as men.

It is often uncomfortable calling out those you love, and we often hide behind "it is not my place", "that is his personal life", "it's a domestic matter". We need to do away with such limiting principles.

I challenged them to begin refusing to play golf with someone who has skipped maintenance payments, refuse to be in the same space with an absent father and blatantly refuse to associate with people who have raped and abused.

This is not to play a paternalistic role to our friends, colleagues and associates. This is to say, an abuser will not be comfortable around me. Importantly, men are likely to change behaviour if called out by other men, especially men they revere. Because of patriarchy and power relations, a woman calling out a man is likely to be less effective.

Furthermore, holding each other accountable extends into the role we play in our communities. Challenging each other to invest in the boy child, especially the black boy child.

I challenged them to begin to think of the importance of investing in the mentoring of the black boy, as they are black men themselves. After all, it is the black child, the black boy in particular, who grows up fatherless, hopeless and for some, in abject poverty.

Oprah Winfrey came all the way from the US to establish a centre of excellence for the black girl child. The question is, as black men who have greatly achieved in their varied pursuits, what are they doing in ensuring that the violence the black boy child perpetrates against the black girl is brought to a stop, I asked.

Is it not about time they take stock and ask themselves questions about their own culpability for looking the other way as they enjoy their wealth or comfort.

There is nothing wrong in enjoying your wealth, there is nothing wrong in being rich, but I challenged them in perhaps going back into the communities they come from, channelling their resources, skills and knowledge towards the empowerment of the black boy.

This is not a charitable act, in fact it is a need, it is a lifetime investment in the future of our country. It is the duty of black men to ensure the black boy child does not become tomorrow's killer, criminal or abuser.

It may seem as a big ask for us to be accountable in our everyday lives. But it is a small ask in comparison to the fate of women in SA. It starts with our everyday smaller actions and with investment into the boy child.

The call for keeping each other accountable is not limited to the men of Golf and Beyond. It extends to all men, because it is men who kill women and children, and each other, and for that reason, it is justifiable that the burden of fighting GBV rests on us.

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