11 July 2017

South Africa: Mandela and Masculinity Today


The lessons of Nelson Mandela's tend to be recited in ritualistic fashion and as if they are obvious. Yet there is much that is contentious and some elements that are important, yet neglected. One aspect that is both contentious and neglected is Mandela's relationship to manhood. While he is preoccupied by what it means to be a man, scholars have tended to neglect this, despite it having considerable bearing on violent masculinities in South Africa today. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.

First published by polity.org.za

In remembering Nelson Mandela, in the month of his birth, it is valuable to return to the neglected question of what he has to teach us about masculinity, what it means to be and various ways of being a man. South Africa remains a violent country marred by aggression and violence, mainly perpetrated by boys and men. Across all population groups there remains a tendency to "solve problems" through recourse to force. An enquiry into Mandela's legacies, especially what he represented as a man may have relevance in providing a role model and an alternative notion of masculinity.

In the major biographies and in other work, Mandela's masculinity is treated as "obvious" and not requiring discussion. The...

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