The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Let's Salute, Support Our Men

opinion

November 19 opened a new chapter in the history of Zimbabwe when the country joined 50 countries in celebrating and commemorating the International Men's Day. While many people may not have been aware of it, the day was commemorated by thousands of men and women across the globe, who were at least able to set aside their differences and celebrate masculinity in the broad sense of the word.

The objectives of celebrating an International Men's Day include focusing on men's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive role models.

Putting it more bluntly that is the day when men highlight forms of discrimination they also come across, celebrate their achievements and contributions to the community, family, marriage and child care.

Running under the theme "Helping Men and Boys Live Longer, Happier and Healthier Lives," the day was inaugurated in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago and has since spread over to 50 countries.

Locally, the day was, however, low key, save for an event that was held in Mount Pleasant, Harare, marked by speeches, wining and dining for a few who managed to make it.

Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Dr Olivia Muchena, who presided over the event, urged the nation to improve gender relations while promoting gender equality.

As I watched televised commemorations that took place in different countries across the globe, I could not help, but marvel at men of different sizes, beliefs and who are informed by a variety of ideologies holding placards in commemoration of the day.

Some had bold but sweet messages of gratitude and how they have been well received in their homes and societies, while others denounced virulent actions they have been exposed to by women.

One of the placards held by a man from Malta read, "We also want to be loved and taken care of".

The message, boldly written in red paint was thought-provoking and made me think of societal perceptions about how women should care and treat the men in their midst.

We were all socialised into believing that men by nature and expectations were banded together in order to protect their interests and in this case, their interests were mainly their families and communities at large.

In addition to that, men were also expected to defend and provide for the stability of the community within the environment so that women could safely operate in their capacity. Men defended and provided for the stability of the community within the environment so that women and children would not worry about going hungry or being attacked.

The sad reality is that while modernity has brought about positive developments such as the use of multi-functional gadgets both at home and office, making communication a lot more easier than before with a click of a button, it has also brought a new breed of men. It has brought about a group of men, who are not willing to work for their supper, who want to abuse their partners at the slightest whim and men who are not honourable enough to stand by what they firmly believe in and what society expects them to be.

At some point in the history of mankind, honour meant a lot and was one of the virtues of integrity, astuteness and virility. Yes, you read correctly, virility.

A man's word was his bond and his words meant a lot. As honourable as they have always been, men could not go around promising things they had had no intention of doing and getting away with.

They just could not wake-up one morning and rob their neighbours, rape the poor girl they come across, and better still causing havoc in a society they should be protecting.

Sadly though, we now have in our midst men who are not honourable enough to care for their own children and the society that they live in.

That lackadaisical attitude has resulted in the increase in armed robberies, car jacking, murders and rape, including children who are as young as six months.

The International Men's Day celebrations are a clear indication that our Government believes there are a lot more honourable men than a few misguided individuals out to tarnish men's contribution to society. All honourable men should be supported in their endeavours.

They make countless sacrifices every single day for family, friends work mates and the society at large and do not even look for anything in return. They don't expect to be congratulated for doing the right and honourable thing.

They are not trying to get mileage for feeding their own families, nor getting a pat on the back for making the right decisions, for the good of their fellow countrymen.

The commemorations fitted perfectly well, as we move closer to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, which kick off on November 25 to December 10.

During the commemorations, nations across the world will be advocating for the eradication of all forms of gender based violence, something that the majority of men have been involved in.

If anything, the decision by Zimbabwe to join countries that are celebrating International Men's Day is a noble move that should be supported by all structures within our community.

I foresee, a future, where our men, would uphold virtuous, noble and respectable societal attributes, where they are not only head of their families, in principle, but will also walk the talk.

It really would be honourable and right to thank the men in our midst for the emotional, social, financial and moral support they have been giving us all the way.

Let's continue to support them, so that they can go that extra mile.

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