In a bid to build a better society, groom good fathers and mothers, and to eradicate single-parent headed households, a group of young men and women met at St Mary’s Anglican Church, in Nyanga, on Saturday December 2, to learn and discuss ways to treat their partners.
The meeting was organised by a men’s non-governmental organisation, Ebuhlanti.
While the gathering focused on building relationships and families, participants were also advised on crucial financial decisions that need to be made to avoid falling into debt during the festive season.
The discussion gave men an opportunity to voice their concerns about their female counterparts, as well as the challenges they face in relationships. And equally, women got to share their stories and expectations of men.
Ebuhlanti co-founder Thulani Magqashela said normally the men met to discuss ways to treat women and to find out why men behave in a certain way towards women.
“We initially wanted to hear from men why they are like this. We wanted to listen to men and find out what makes them do the things they do against women and in society,” he said.
During their discussions, Mr Magqashela said various issues emerged, and they felt is was important to wrap up the year by having a joint discussion with women.
“We want to find out what do we need to do as men so that we can live well together,” said Mr Magqashela.
“Men always perceive themselves as superior and expect women to be submissive.” he said.
He added that this kind of attitude had to change. “We can only be an example when we understand our role as men, and what it is to be a man,” said Mr Magqashela. “Young men must be able to differentiate between what is right and wrong.”
Mr Magqashela said there were some cultural and traditional beliefs that should be “dismantled” to assist society and to promote the rights of women.
“We need to break the stigma that a man must have more than one woman,” he said.
“Women are not meant to be seen as if they are for us, but for who they are. We need to find the root cause of the problem and not to deal with the symptoms.”
Mr Magqashela said they were working tirelessly to take men out of shebeens and to give them a platform to share problems.
“Residents need to play a bigger role in order to solve the problems in our society,” said Mr Magqashela. He said they wanted to expand the initiative beyond Nyanga.
However, it was the contribution from women that set tongues wagging.
Bulelwa Landingwe set the tone by explaining what women expect from men and in relationships. She said most men who got kids out of marriage thought money was everything.
She said children needed love and care from both parents.
“Play your role, don’t be an EFT,” she said. “You rather keep your money if you cannot be there to support your child.”
She also condemned the fighting of personal battles through children, urging both men and women to adjust their attitudes for the benefit of children.
Ms Landingwe also cautioned against fathers who make “empty promises” to their children and women who call their ex-partners names once they were no longer in a relationship with them.
“Discipline is key. Treat other people the way you’d like the next person to treat you,” she said. She also warned men who make children and run away.
“If you run away from your first child, you will always run away,” she said.
Another participant, Noxolo Siyothula said young men should be taught ways to care for women. She said there were basic things that men refused to do that show love and care.
“Old perceptions such as washing of dishes and purchasing of pads need to be encouraged among men,” she said. “There are married men who refuse to buy pads for their wives.”
Nolonwabo Majija said raising children and other household chores were a joint responsibility.
She said in most marriages both partners worked and they needed to share all other responsibilities.
“We need to identify problems,” she said. “Even if you are not married it does not mean you must be absent from your kids’ life. Even when you break up with your partner, it should not affect the children,” said Ms Majija.
She lashed out at couples who put children at the centre of their disputes.
However, Ayanda Hlazo said he welcomed the comments, but said not all women shared the same views. “Women also contribute in creating a broken society,” he said. He said there were women who embraced the tactic of fighting personal battles through children. He said he was embroiled in such a battle.
“That affects the kids badly,” said Mr Hlazo.