Gender Links (Johannesburg)

9 December 2012

Swaziland: Real Men Desist From Violence

The Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence for 2012 has ended. Women spearheaded most of the activities in Swaziland. This is because the campaign is synonymous with gender violence, which is associated with women. Most men turn a blind eye and would not be caught dead wearing the white ribbon, which is symbolic of this period.

In Swaziland, like many other Southern Africa countries, men are the main perpetrators of violence. It is important that men are brought on board during the campaign. This is not to say there are no good men - we actually have a lot but their stories are untold because some men view kindness, care and love in men as a sign of weakness.

I once read somewhere that a lion and a man had an interesting conversation about which species deserved a place under the sun more. The man spoke about his amazing ability to farm, fish, build houses and take decisions as a leader of his home. He said God had given him dominion over all living creatures.

The lion remained quiet for a while and then said, "I won't argue with what you have said. However, there is one thing that makes us better than human beings -we don't rape our young." The man shut up because he knew the lion had said the truth.

It is no secret that many men are brutal, as is evident in the number of children who have been raped by their biological fathers, stepfathers, uncles, brothers, teachers and pastors. It is disheartening to see that many children do not have relationships with their fathers and the few that still do a great job are worth applauding as we promote the spirit of "no violence."

Thabiso Mabuza has an inspiring relationship with his two daughters. He pointed out that, "I know I am not perfect but my kids come first. They're miles ahead of everything I hold dear. I have always wanted them to have a great childhood - filled with love and no worries. I cannot afford to take them to the best schools but I make up for this by exposing them to life-long values and principles, which will make them great parents some day."

He takes interest in his daughters' schoolwork, in their dreams and makes sure they know there are no free rides in life. Mabuza takes pride in his daughters' achievements, helps them out when they need a hand and ensure they are raised in a healthy environment where they are allowed to make their opinions known. He added that his daughters unconditional love gives him reason to go on.

If only half the men in our community would have the same belief system, the world would certainly be a better place.

A relative, Sam* has three children who are a chip off the old block in every way. He has no time for his children and claims he does his bit by paying their school fees. Sam never knew his old man so he feels like he deserves the "World's Best Dad Award" because at least his children know him.

Sam is one of the "not so bad ones." We have our fair share of bad fathers - the ones we read about in the newspapers everyday are just part of the nasty crew. There are also those who pay their children's school fees, buy them clothes and feed them. This is simply not enough - being a good father is going beyond basic provision to involvement in the child's daily life.

Catholic Priest Theodore Hesburgh says the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Then, the rest will fall into place. The logic is that if a man loves the woman who bore him children, that love is then transferred to his children. I may not have proof of this but it is certainly a good place to start. A man who loves his woman will not hurt her physically, emotionally or otherwise.

He will make sure that he treats her with the dignity she deserves and vice versa. As the world looks at strategies of eradicating all forms of violence against women, it is important to applaud the few good men who respect women as their equals.

To all the good men out there, even the Bible has expectations from you. Deuteronomy 6 verse 4-7 reads; "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be in your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

Real men desist from violence and want their families to only know love. May many fathers replicate this ideal. Next year, we want more men who encourage love in both the public and private space, and not violence.

*Not his real name.

Bongiwe Zwane is a Public Relations Coordinator at Population Services International Swaziland. This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service series for the Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence.

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