By Nontshi Shange

When discussing gender-based violence, it is important to consider masculinity. The toxic traits young boys learn on the road to becoming men, will ultimately affect women. This topic is often down-played when discussing gender-based violence and the onus is placed on women to keep themselves safe. However, at the Lydenberg Accountabili’tea discussion, the importance of educating boys on how to become men who will grow society and respect women, took center stage.

The event was organized by Karabo Mohala – who is part of the Activator! network of changemakers in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, together with Accountability Lab South Africa. The panel discussion was moderated by Nsizwa Nyundu from Brave Stones Builds Nations, an organization that focuses on issues such as gender-based violence, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancies. The panelists included leaders from different departments and stakeholders in the community. 

The conversation focused on where change can start when addressing social issues on a local level. They also discussed accountability amongst the various stakeholders and their roles in the community. 

Patriarchy is well-rooted in the Lydenberg community, said panelists.  Panelist, Nyundu Nsizwa said: “We should first find ourselves as men; ‘African men,’. this issue has to do with tradition, culture, lifestyle, and beliefs.” To instill change in Lydenburg, Nsizwa believes that an internal reflection needs to happen within the men who live there. They need to be held accountable for their actions and take the initiative to do better to allow the community to be a safe space.  

Karabo Mohlala emphasized that if the men in the community better themselves, they will better the children. When discussing how men should be interacting with children and young men he said, “We should teach them to learn how to unlearn and also shape them on exposing them to the positive value of having a consciousness free of mental, physical and emotional slavery that we unintentionally putting ourselves into.”  

Karabo’s final statement to the community was, “let’s teach a boy child how to elevate from a boy to a man.” He shared sentiments on how important it is for men to guide children in the community through their behavior. If men mirrored the change which they want to see in the community, the community would prosper.