Dear Men, We Need You.

Allow me to tell you a personal story from my childhood.

My Dad used to work for the Transkei government in Mthatha during the apartheid regime. When the homeland of Transkei became part of South Africa post-1994, the Transkei government department underwent restructuring. At this point, my father was the deputy director. My dad was given the option either to relocate to Pretoria to take up a new political role; or opt for early retirement. He chose the latter. So from around 1996, Mama was the one who went to work every morning whilst dad looked after us.

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Mom, Dad and one of my sisters back in the 90’s.


A few years later, Mama was offered an opportunity which required relocating to another town. She would only come home on weekends. Taking the offer made economic sense: it would ease the financial burden and allow my parents to support their children and extended family. More importantly, Mama could do work she was passionate about!

Consequently, Dad became the primary caregiver. I recall how throughout my schooling, all my teachers knew my father well. They recognised his unique signature on my homework slips and expected him at every parent-teacher meeting. Tata attended all my prize-giving ceremonies.

I had a present father – the highlight of my upbringing!

Ntate always reminded me who I am. He made me proud to be a descendant of AmaHlubi nationNdingu (I am) MaRhadebe, uBhungane, uMthimkulu, Ndlebentle’zombini, Nasele, Mafuz’ afulele njenge lifu lemvula, mashwaba oshwabadel’ inkomo neempondo zayo – a lineage of mighty warriors and great leaders!

A father has a way of calling out the winner in you, the star in you!

My dad was a TRUE provider. By supporting Mama and allowing her to flourish, he set an example for his children. From my parents I learned that an empowered wife is a reflection of the integrity of her husband. Mama respected Tata deeply. I watched a healthy marriage work under ‘unconventional’ circumstances. They were a team (and so in love!!!). As their children we succeeded because they partnered intentionally for the progress of the family.

My father was one of the most respected men in our community – an advisor and counsellor. From the speeches at his funeral last October, it was clear that his influence had nothing to do with title or salary package; it had everything to do with his big heart.

My father was a man amongst men.
My father was a FEMINIST.

Why am I sharing this?

Am I implying that women should dominate the workplace and men stay home? Not at all! I am highlighting the power which prevails when men and women co-labour for the benefit of the family: doing what is best for the household, what is best for society

When I was 16, I once read a book called “The Purpose-driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” by Rick Warren. I asked my father what his purpose was. He told me his purpose was to establish the home and take care of his family. Those words will always remain with me.

Of course, there was a period when dad was the main financial provider: let’s not forget he was very intelligent and accomplished. Greatest of all, he was wise. The reality about life is things change constantly ~ seasons change. One parent could suddenly fall ill or get a disability. Certain economic shocks can render certain job roles redundant. Considering the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on job losses, we can understand the importance of multiple income sources as a safety net. Moreover, time and time again, particularly in African families, we have witnessed women lose their husbands who were the sole providers. Widows are left behind with little to nothing, and the children suffer.

I have been reflecting upon the significance of commemorating women’s month (August) in South Africa.

Women’s liberation does not diminish the importance of men in our society.
Men do not only exist to be financial providers.
Men are a shield and a source of security.
Men affirm identity and self-worth in their children.
The presence of (good) men brings peace.
Dear men, WE NEED YOU.

 

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Dad: another word for LOVE

My experience has influenced the young woman I am today. I’ll be honest, I have received interesting feedback regarding research I have conducted on gender pay gaps and motherhood penalties. One fellow economist I respect shot down one of my articles saying I have a ‘gender activist’ tone which will undermine my reputation as an economist. I was hurt by this because the goal of my research is to promote solutions for socio-economic development. The conversations around women’s empowerment are not intended to dismiss struggles men face. The women’s liberation movement is not about power dynamics; it’s about progress.

Human beings are equal but different. Men and women are equal but different. We all co-exist to complement each other and add value to society. Each of us contribute a unique essence to the world – at all occupations and leadership levels. The world functions better when different fields and industries promote diversity and inclusion.

When women win; men win.
When women win; society wins.
We NEED MEN to encourage and support GENUINELY freedom for girls and women.

I’ll conclude with this question: Dear men, in what type of society would you like your daughters to grow up?

All thoughts welcome in the comments section below.

33 thoughts

  1. I’m always in awe whenever I meet older men from our parent’s generation who don’t ascribe to traditional gender roles around the home.

    There is a Xhosa saying I’ve often heard used by my Dad’s Brother. Intombi yiNkosazana.

    May we acknowledge, protect and bring up Princesses. May we celebrate them in their entirety. That is the world I’d like to bring up my future daughters in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this Siba! So important! And I am praying for the day when more men can have embody the willingness to take time to understand what women’s liberation and true equality is about, as opposed to taking the stance that women are out to dominate and belittle them. I hope that in the same way that I, though being a Black woman, recognize that I have to humble myself and introspection on the ways in which I my educational and socioeconomic privilege needs to be checked, more men can start to acknowledge that that they need to do the same. We are all have work to do. Though the work will be different due to where we are located within the social privilege hierarchy, it is all important and all necessary. Women cannot do the work alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very thoughtful and apt Siba! I definitely agree that we, men; cannot function healthily in our families and society at large if we continue to perpetuate mindsets and behaviours which minimse the importance of women, and thereby deeming women lesser than men. We are different sure, however those differences should be embraced and celebrated, as opposed to being used as tools for oppressive behaviour towards women. I also concur that our presence (men), in the lives of those who love and trust us, could be experienced in much more positive ways.

    I’ve not met your dad, but I can see and attest to the legacy he left behind and that inspires me to a present man, in the various relational capacities I assume; friend, lover, and father eventually.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You have outlined an important aspect of your mother, to support and continually love your father regardless of the pay or position in life. Such women inspire men to be better. The minute men are not only seen as means to a convenience is the minute such inspirational thoughts and actions will surface and men will be the men the world has needed. Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful my friend! What an incredible example your dad has set. Stories like these give me so much hope for the future and affirms that even African men have a place in the evolution of gender roles in the home. Your dad was ahead of his time.

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  6. This is absolutely beautiful. Your father was a great man Siba and the example he set is great for his generation of men but also important for the new generation of families.

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  7. The misunderstanding that one finds when thinking of the phrase “50/50” is that society interprets this as women/men being able to do whatever the other can. This could not be further from the truth, Women were created to do everything a man can’t and visa versa. This does not mean that one is better than the other. In appreciating this fact we find that we are compliments of one another and i think that this basic understanding is the key to having healthy relationships amongst men and women. Dear Women we need you as much as you do us.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story Sibahle.

    I hope to raise my future daughter/s in a society where they feel as able & as safe as we men generally feel. & not just ‘my’ daughters because it shouldn’t be about one’s own daughters but everyone’s.

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  9. Your article moved me into missing my dad. He too was a feminist in his own way. He taught me independence from such a young age because he was aware of the way the world treats women. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. This is an excellent article Sibahle’!! …it’s an empowering outlook that you are sharing here!!

    Thanks a lot!! …and, do not be discouraged by other peers / people who shoot down your work and view on these aspects of societal, multi-varied roles where both men and women are greatly needed!! Mina for one i‘m greatly encouraged by your article!

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  11. Well written piece… I agree with everything, particularly the part about how elavating women’s roles doesn’t have to mean diminishing those of men… But it is about progress. Feminism is not about men being subservient to women but it is about equality… In every sense of the word! One thing I don’t like is how “woke feminist” have misconstrued the idea and made it seem like men are the problem and enemy to feminism. The enemy of feminism is patriarchy not men. I am not in any way denying the role that men have played in perpetuating patriarchy but it has been my experience that most women are patriarchal particularly in relationships. But interesting and insightful piece!

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  12. Thanks for sharing Siba! Your dad was a great man. The hope is that more and more men would reject our cultural and societal ideas of masculinity and allow their identity to be informed and shaped by the true man, Jesus.

    As one who often thinks about being a stay at home dad, I am really encouraged and excited by your dad’s story, family is my core value, and helping my wife and kids live out their individual purposes would make me a really happy man,

    With regards to your question, I would like to see my daughters grow up in a society where women are given the same freedoms and rights that men currently enjoy. I would like them to grow in a society where they are they are honored as image-bearers of God standing equal before Him. Lastly, I would like them to grow up in a society that is safe and non-threatening. I was speaking to a few friends of mine recently and one them shared how reluctant she is to bring a child (especially a daughter) into the world right now. This shouldn’t be the case.

    Great article Siba!

    Like

    1. Ivan, thank you so much for your response. I absolutely agree with you about Jesus shaping identity.
      I also resonate with your response on the type of society in which you would like to see your daughters grow up. I have faith that this can be a reality for the next generation, in Jesus’ Name.

      Like

  13. Hey Siba,
    Thanks for sharing. The article is a fascinating read and very inspiring for us men.
    I am a big fan of your research, and I have personally learned a lot from your work. Keep up the great work, and let no one discourage you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Siba.
    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article and for sharing…
    There’s a lot of important and fascinating points on this article…
    One of those points that I’d like to comment on is how great a men UBawo uMagadla was and the many lessons many young men like myself can learn from his journey in life…

    I so wish you can write a book and a documentary on his life and even get indepth commentary from other people who knew him… From isizwe samaHlubi to the community of Mthatha and Matatiele… From the former teachers of his children to his former colleagues in government… From his friends and family to his spiritual family… I just think there’s a lot that we can learn from his life journey…

    He was no ordinary man…

    And to briefly answer your question…
    I’d like my unborn daughters to grow up in 1. A safe society
    2. A society in which they are FREE to pursue their dreams and in which there’ll be enough support to ensure that they achieve those dreams…

    Camagu!

    Like

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