By LIKHAPHA THAATHAA
KAGISANO held a gender-based violence dialogue at Duna Library, Joza, on 17 August. The day’s theme, ‘meeting the reality ( our stories make us who we are)’, had a significant impact on opening doors to people’s emotional experiences. It also taught people to be good listeners to other people’s stories without being judgemental.
The emotional men’s and women’s dialogue started with a moment of praying and lighting candles to commemorate gender-based violence victims.
In his welcoming speech, Ward 2 councillor Ramie Xonxa encouraged residents to teach their children to stop crime and violence. “The community, including the school kids, must stand up and fight against crime and violence,” Xonxa said.
Two participants, Nontembeko Matebese and Mawonga Manzi, shared their daughters’ emotional stories – the daughters were both victims of gender-based violence.
KAGISANO is a Tswana word meaning ‘building our nation together’. KAGISANO was adopted in place of the long title Promoting Social Cohesion in Preventing Collective Violence. The project focuses on the broken societies of South Africa.
KAGISANO field worker Mbulelo Lipile said various forms of violence were “taking all the solid social values of healthy beings”. He lamented gender-based violence in every form and urged men and women to speak up. “Violence is silence. Silence is violence; let’s encourage men to cry so that they stop bottling, which makes them toxic. Anger turns men into animals. When you cry, you release emotions.”
Siyabonga Thomas, who used to be an abuser, lamented gender-based violence. He rebuked what he used to do and urged men to respect women. He urged men to stop abusing the cultural narrative that a man is the head of the house.
Lipile said the project aimed to hold more dialogues around Makhanda to address the real concerns that consume citizens of Makhanda. “We should work together to eliminate gender-based violence in Makhanda,” he said.
KAGISANO is partnered with Singamadoda Men Empowerment Spaces to root out gender-based violence. Speaking on behalf of Singamadoda, Simo Ndyoko also urged men to talk about their problems.
Lipile said the session helped many to open up about their hidden selves in a safer space. They also received support for their stories and experiences. He hoped KAGISANO could be known to all communities to strengthen conflict resolution strategies and build harmonious relationships.
“Today’s event has been so emotional. The phrase ‘men don’t cry in our culture’ has been denounced. When we have emotions as male or female humans, it is good to release the toxic substance in our feeling and have tears. It relieves us and connects us to our senses,” Lipile said.