It was the 19th November 2016 when A! Men invaded the historical Vilakazi Street in Soweto to do a first Freeze Flash Mobb. The idea is very simple, members of the organisation wear the A! Men gear and placards with messages on them. This was done on an important day for men the world over, International Men’s Day.
International Men’s Day was started with a clear focus on men. The month also coincides with Movember, an annual charity event, and also has Universal Children’s Day on the 20th November. The objectives for this day are many, yet can be summarised in the following: “A focus on men’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care.” www.internationmensday.com
It was an incredible to see, both women and men intrigued by the messages that were on the placards hanging around the necks of Activators Amos Malungane, Njabulo Mabaso, Nhlanhla Ndlovu, Siphiwe Mngadi and Themba Mzimba. The messages on the placards was intended to stimulate discussion around men and their role in society. It did just that! A Caucasian male commented: “Thank you for bringing something so different and powerful to Vilakazi Street. I wish you could do this to also spark conversation around “blessers”, and the effect of these relationships in the growing number of HIV infections amongst young girls.”
The crowds were amazed that a group of young men came out boldly to spread positive messages about men. The public were also had opinions as to the importance of men in society. Many echoed the idea that if men took up their place in society, we would not have as much problems as we do today.
One placard read “The true index of a man is in the health of his woman.” One of A! Men’s messages is that of raising gentlemen. Men who are not shy to wear a three piece suit and take his lady on a date. One who is not shy to open his woman’s door when she gets into a car, men who are not afraid to cook, clean, do laundry and serve their women. For doing these things does not make a man weak, it rather shows his strength.
Amidst all the mess that men are surrounded by, it truly is worth noting that men also have plenty to celebrate. And plenty still to teach young men. T Edison observed: “Opportunity is often missed because it comes dressed in work suits.” A! men will not miss opportunities because it come as work. A good society needs labourers to be built.