Kabelo Chabalala (32) of Pankop in Mpumalanga is helping fight gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) by mentoring boys.
Chabalala started the Young Men Movement (YMM) in 2016 to provide guidance to young boys, especially those who do not have the support of a father, as they navigate life.
“I want to help boys, especially those who are in the villages and are fatherless, like me. Often, boys and men blame the absence of their fathers for their misbe-
haviour, including being rebellious, abusive in relationships, and not adhering to morals. YMM exists to help stop that,” explained Chabalala.
His own childhood helped him understand the challenges that many boys face, including peer pressure, and a lack of guidance and support.
YMM aims to teach boys that they are not entitled to a girl’s body and that they should not force others to do things that they are not willing to do.
“Boys who understand healthy masculinity have healthy relations and engagements with girls and women in their lives. If we leave the boy child out in our efforts to end the scourge of GBVF, they potentially become perpetrators when they grow up,” he said.
Chabalala, who has a Bachelor of Technology in Journalism from the Tshwane University of Technology, started YMM with just four boys in 2016.
Over time, that number has grown to include boys from neighbouring villages, including Mmametlhake, Phake and Nokaneng.
Boys benefitting from YMM
More than 600 boys have directly benefitted from the organisation since its inception. This includes boys of school-going age with the youngest being nine years
old. Once the boys pass matric, they exit the group to make space for new members.
During the bi-weekly sessions, YMM members discuss various topics including the challenges that they face in life, masculinity, GBVF, their future plans, and career and life goals. The sessions are held in a garage at Chabalala’s home.
“I also bring them books to read, especially those written by women because I want them to learn how emotions and feelings are expressed. Many boys struggle to express their emotions and lack emotional intelligence,” he explained.
Chabalala adds that the boys’ performance in school has also improved and some of them are members of the representative council of learners at their respective schools.
YMM also hosts recreational activities and trips to ensure that the boys do not get bored by just attending sessions and talking.
“We have travelled to soccer stadiums, among other places. Many trips were first-time experiences for many boys outside the villages. These trips expose them to the world of possibilities and help to shape their dreams,” said Chabalala.
YMM is supported by a team of his friends and family, who are experts in different fields including clinical psychology, social work and motivational speaking.
Having conversations with the boys also helped Chabalala deal with his childhood traumas.
“I started to forgive my father for being absent in my life when I started interacting with the boys. Unfortunately, he passed on in 2017,” he said.
Chabalala is also the author of A Journey from boyhood to manhood, a memoir published in 2022.
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For more information about YMM or to order the book, contact Chabalala on 072 371 626.