Imbizo gives men space to discuss pertinent issues

Men young and old converged at an Imbizo held in Philippi last Saturday.

Men from different communities met at Cesvi’s Khanya Centre in Philippi for an imbizo focusing on issues affecting men and gender-based violence (GBV) and abuse of women.

The imbizo by the Nyanga Spiritual Crime Prevention Forum was in conjunction with organisations including the Reverend Mawande Lugongolo Foundation, Mosaic, Cesvi Foundation, Nyanga SAPS MCSJ Men’s Forum, Amandla Development, Tshwaranag and the Philippi Arts Centre.

The theme on Saturday November 12 was “A man is the most beautiful part of God’s creation who starts compromising at a very tender age”.

Men were asked their position as individuals in relation to gender-base violence and femicide.

Questions of concern over men rights were raised. However, men were sensitised about the dangers of assault, rape, killings and other issues when it comes to gender-base violence.

Bishop Dumisani Qwebe, who was among the organisers of the event, said it had been successful in raising debate among men on aspects of respecting women and their rights. He said the Imbizo was the start of good things to come. “This is not the end. There are more imbizos coming. For instance, we are now planning a women’s-only Imbizo. We are grateful and delighted that we were able to converge here. The number of attendees shows you that men are committed to fight gender-based violence. But we have to respond to their needs too. But this is not a once off,” he said.

Mr Qwebe said they are hoping to start conversations with as many organisations as possible on the issue of gender-based violence and issues affecting men.

Reverend Mawande Lugongolo said they met as men because they wanted a space that is safe for men to come out and have discussions that are not comfortable.

“The aim was to allow men to feel free. That is why we also think places like your clinics should have a separate space for men, by men. Sometimes men find it easy to open up to a young woman working in the clinic. But if they are attended by other mature men, they will open up. This meeting is a way to show them that violence has no space in our communities but also listening to their concerns. I am glad they were able to open up and agreed to work with us in the fight against crimes including the GBV. It was delightful to see men in deeper discussions,” said Mr Lugongolo.

He said the discussions were self-confronting and progressive. He was happy that the attendees did not hold back on any issue on the table.

The newly arrived Nyanga police station commander Brigadier Jan Alexander also did not hold back to call men into order.

He said men should make sure that the safety and security of the community is at a high level. “It is very clear that the males seems to be the culprits in crime I mean something like rape, killings and others. As men we will have to accept that fingers are pointing at us. Women have pointed fingers at us. Now we cannot turn a blind eye. Safety belongs to us,” said Brigadier Alexander.

He said he understands that men are wounded but resorting to violence is not a solution. He accused men of dropping the ball. “We have to correct that. We dropped the ball when we were most needed. We need a change of minds and hearts as men,” he said.

The hard-hitting commander has also appealed to the community to fight crime in unison.

He asked people to join safety structures like neighbourhood watches, community police forums, streets committees and others.

“All safety structures need to be activated. Communities need to form a strong partnership. If that happens,we are sitting with a solution.The strong partnership is non-negotiable,” he said.

Reverend Mawande Lugongolo was happy to see deep conversation from the men.
Traditional leaders were also in attendance to give their views and opinions. Chief of AmaDumisa, Nkosi Mthombeni, gives his views on the current state of men’s issues and challenges.