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Change the world

12/06/2024

Nelson Mandela University’s Youth Month Campaign, amidst our busy schedules, charges us to refocus and reflect on the significance of Youth Month by raising awareness. As part of Youth Month, we are encouraged to consider the historical importance of youth activism in South Africa and recognize the extraordinary young leaders who are making a difference today.

Given the broad context of the topic at hand, let me filter my focus on what Youth Month means to me, as a man in South Africa who is mentoring young men.

My name is Yanga Lusasa, and I serve as a Student Development Manager at the University, within the Department of Student Governance and Development. Among the various student leadership Programmes that I have the privilege of leading, facilitating and developing, I would like to highlight one in particular: Ebuhlanti / The Kraal – Men’s Leadership Programme. This Programme encapsulates what Youth Month means to me as a mentor of young men.

What Youth Month means to me as a mentor of young men:

Youth Month is a time for reflection, inspiration and action. For me, as a mentor and facilitator of young men, it is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the potential and resilience of our youth. It is a time to honour the legacy of past youth movements, like those who partook in the 1976 Soweto Uprising, and to recognize that today’s young men are the torchbearers of that legacy. They have the potential to be catalysts for positive change, not only in their own lives but in their communities and the broader society.

 

Key issues facing young men today:

Through my work with the Ebuhlanti / The Kraal – Men’s Leadership Programme, I have observed several key issues that young men are grappling with:

Through various historical perceptions on masculinity, the boy child has minimally been socialized to not cry, seek help, or show weakness in any shape or form. This has imposed a variety of challenges towards the boychild, who then becomes a young man that faces consequential challenges on his outlook on life. These include issues with vulnerability, respecting authority and, in some cases, undermining women. When you consider these few examples, you find that the results often lead towards anxiety, depression, trouble accepting failure and breeds mental health complications that compromises the quality of life of both the man and the community around him in unhealthy ways.

Furthermore, some young men find themselves drawn into cycles of violence or aggression, which contributes tremendously towards acts of gender-based violence and, in most cases, increased levels of crime due to socio-economic pressures, peer influence, and a lack of positive role models.

How Ebuhlanti / The Kraal – Men’s Leadership Programme addresses these issues:

Ebuhlanti / The Kraal – Men’s Leadership Programme is designed to tackle these issues head-on by providing a comprehensive and transformative experience for young men. Here’s how the Programme seeks to address these challenges:

·       Redefining Masculinity: Through discussions, literature and mentorship, the Programme encourages young men to explore and embrace positive masculinity. It challenges harmful stereotypes and promotes traits such as empathy, emotional intelligence and respect.

·       Promoting Mental Health: The Programme creates a safe space where young men can openly discuss topics that will assist them in promoting positive mental health practices without fear of judgment. It provides resources and support to help them manage their mental health effectively by constantly referring the young men to utilize and take advantage of the University’s Emthonjeni Student Wellness services boldly and unashamedly.

·       Repainting the image of manhood: The programme aims to connect the young men with mentors who exemplify positive leadership through engagement and practical real-life examples that reference their lived realities, so that they are able to relate what they receive from the Programme and hopefully utilize it to pave constructive ways of living out their masculinity by being champions that are exemplary custodians of social responsibility. In this way, the Programme often encourages young men to engage with themselves and their communities positively and, in turn, this not only helps them to build meaningful connections but also to break cycles of violence, crime, mental health issues and the increased rate of suicide among men.

In closing, and in the words of Sabuz Shahrair Khan, the “youth have the power to make or break the society”. Through the Ebuhlanti / The Kraal – Men’s Leadership Programme, the Department of Student Governance and Development aim to harness that power to make a positive impact, helping young men to build a better future for themselves and their communities. Youth Month is a reminder of this mission and a call to continue nurturing and empowering our youth.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za