What does it mean to be a man?

Mothoothata Lesole


Cases of gender-based violence reportedly increased this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the most vulnerable members of society – women, and children. During these 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, The Voice seeks to find out from men;

What does it mean to be a man? How do men define masculinity – manhood?

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How do men plan to contribute to ending this crisis?

Mothoothata Lesole, (47) Gaborone

The original African concept of man has been mutilated the day my Africans became a mere labour commodity with the introduction of slavery and later modern slavery called employment.

The African man has increasingly become economically weak and many relationships have been born out of unions based on paltry economic strength sufficient not for a lifetime.

This has caused many men to become violent in failing to hold intimate relationships together by supporting his family.

Africa must inculcate in my brothers a culture of self-reliance to empower themselves economically to be able to support their families from their graves.

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Phineas Nkwe, 71, Malolwane

God promised Adam a helper; the head is useless without the neck.

A man is the head of the family, meaning an authority figure who provides leadership, care, and guidance.

Unfortunately, since the beginning of time, as in the Book of Genesis, man has always failed in that regard.

Phineas Nkwe

Adam was tasked with the management of the Garden of Eden but instead, we see only confusion.

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Women are by nature smarter than men, who’re built to be physically stronger.

This frustrates men hence they resort to violence.

Our society has totally deteriorated because the very men who are supposed to provide leadership within the homestead are now the devils in their homes.

Men demonstrate hardheartedness, in the home and community. They won’t even stop to think not to harm children, children who aren’t sexually attractive.

I mean, men have been said to perform bestiality. A man has a demonic spirit; just as the devil, they’re liars, too. We need to return to the traditional institutions of bogwera and bojale – initiation that prepared children for adult life.

As well, men need to fear the Lord; how do you axe a woman, someone God created in His likeness?

Churches need to do more to teach, though even preachers commit suicide and other crimes.

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Obakeng Matlou, 42, Gaborone

A man is a protector and a provider. Sadly, with these instances of widespread GBV, the opposite is true.

Women have grown distrustful of men. I have a friend who holds even stronger views; that any man is a potential rapist.

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That’s how serious women view the subject.

We need to endeavour to strike a balance i.e. prioritising equal education for boy and girl children, to impress upon them the reality to learn to live together in harmony.

Simply put though there’ll always be differences among people, expressions of their discontentment aren’t only manifested through forms of abuse; be they verbal, emotional or physical.

Strengthen characters up to be resilient by practising self-restraint.

Our conducts and misconducts all boil down to how we raise our children, parenting children closely to instill these values in them while addressing adults in different outreach family programmes.

Richard Gartland, Gaborone

To be a man is to be a husband and a father. There are really bad figures in our midst who have tarnished the image of men.

Another problem is that there’s a stigma associated with GBV; women hide their perpetrators.

Richard Gartland

As an employer, I’m exposed to such issues of GBV regularly, where an employee would request to go on leave because they’ve experienced intimate partner abuse but the same women fail to hold their partners accountable.

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I’m interested to see if the Sexual Offenders Registry will result in a decline in sex offences.

Luka Setume, 59, Gaborone

I’m really at my wits’ end to define masculinity; perhaps it’s a matter that can best be addressed in a kgotla setting in the company of other men ready to introspect.

As men, we have totally let women and children down. Violence against women dates back centuries, especially physical and verbal abuse. I’m unable to explain this really, but I am tempted to conclude that men are barbaric by nature.

Philemon Modise, 70

GBV is in itself a pandemic. Men’s predatory nature is worrying, though there’s no animal that can prey on its own. Prisons are packed full of offenders and the minute they are released, they return to crime.

Women and children live in fear of men, it’s tragic.

Philemon Modise

A lot of women are single and looking for men yet men prefer to violate children.

In my view, masculinity is a complex matter. A man’s heart has hardened. There is no solution.

Samuel Ngwenya, Gaborone

Being a man means to provide and protect one’s own family. It also extends to be in partnership with your wife and girlfriend.

This partnership is complementary and symbiotic. I am currently working on a film exploring and addressing the root causes of GBV.

Peach Kereemang,31, Gaborone

Being a man means being a protector and a provider! Often times we overlook the fact that men have had dominance over women for the longest time and in so many aspects!

In these 16 days of activism, it is important for us as men to take it upon ourselves to STOP using the power we’ve abused for so long upon our sisters, mothers, daughters and grandmothers.

Men have, over the years, defined masculinity as being emotionally unavailable!

This cuts across a lot of aspects of life, from professional to family matters!

Peach Kereemang

Crying and showing emotion is described as being weak as a man; this has been part of the problem that influences GBV!
Aggression has also been one of the ways that we as men, describe masculinity; another ill that, in my view, increases cases of GBV.

Standing with all those who fight GBV across the globe and encouraging those in such situations to find a way out!

That is the little I can do as an individual. Also, not being a perpetrator!

That is a choice an individual can make, and that can make a difference if we all do that!

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