I never knew that my penis was not a sign of masculinity, only a sign of being male. Neither did it define my gender, only that I am born with the XY Chromosome. I carried this phallus all my life dangling in between my legs but all this dangling actually put my manhood off balance. I was not aware that I was walking through 36 years stumbling like a child instead of walking upright like a man. And because of this I came very short of being a man, I had no masculinity in me especially in areas that needed masculinity that being my mind, career and relationships. In this series, I will grow with you through the journey of disassociating your brain, both of them and relook at manhood around other males, the community, sexually, and through career. We start with the mind and identity.
All along I thought women and men think in the same way. We don’t. I had a feminine mind, which is what every man starts with until they change to a masculine mind. There are vast differences between the two. It’s always better to learn this difference early in life and be enables to build the world around you with stability and fortitude. Growing in the township, and like many other boys in the urban areas I never had the opportunity to transform into manhood through the necessary rituals. Many young men ekasi and in the city do not transition from boys to men because there are no real manhood transition rituals. Boys in the rural areas go to the mountain or another form depending on the culture they subscribe to and transform into men at the end of the ritual. The only rituals available for us in the city to mark our transition is
– Starting of alcohol consumption or drugs
– Playing sports, getting a job or qualification
– Start having sex or impregnating
– Crime, gangs and prison.
– Being violent towards males and females
– Materialism in clothing and cars
These are all destructive and are the source of the many wrongs we have with society including women, child and self-abuse. There are many boys in men’s bodies (irresponsible) and feminine brains (hyper-sexual) That’s why you find a 35 year who is boy mentally even if he has children. Gangs understand the importance of rituals that’s why they are committed to the tradition. It’s alluring to young men because we naturally feel this deep need to transition. There has to be some defining action/event to mark it. Without positive manhood transitioning rituals many find themselves in the same position were they transition later in life never.
With the correct rituals, young men are clear of when they are expected to be responsible members of society. From the day they finish the rituals they are addressed differently especially by women and older men. This creates a clear divide from their childhood. They are forced to now act and behave like men which is of the benefit of the community and the people around them.
THE BIRTH OF A MALE MIND.
The best way a male child learns is through seeing examples. If there are no examples then we learn through trial and error, and hopefully, those errors do not condemn us for life. We see this in the greatest and most inspirational men who admit that they too learned from other men to be the great people they became or are. The greatest generals quote strategies of preceding generals before them. That’s how we men navigate the world, we are acutely aware that the greatest threat to us in every aspect is another man. For that reason, we watch other men for purposes of protection of self or learning how to deliver attacks. Learning from other men who succeeded or failed in the past shortens the route to devising our success or avoiding failure.
From birth my identity was wrong. Here I was born in born in Soweto in ’85, growing up without a father but had an older brother. Nine years older, it meant in my eye he was the compass I learned how to navigate the world. Like every younger man, their older brother either is their hero, especially if the father is not present. The absence is filled by the brother’s presence because they are old enough to move far ahead of you and can teach you about male things, women, school work and how to deal with other men. You can learn this from the things they do or learn to not do what they do. This means even if they are not living a life of positivity but rather engage in destructive behaviour you can learn from the outcomes of their lives.
THE SHAPING OF THE MIND.
Growing and looking around my environment I was unfortunate and fortunate enough to have a gangster blood brother. I also have a famous brother back opposite (which is the same yard in the hood anyway’), another famous brother around the corner who was part of the group that created Kwaito. My blood brother had lots of thug friends. My ‘toys’ mostly loot’ from stolen cars. Shit that was not even real toys, it was things he could not sell in the hood like golf clubs, expensive watches, sunglasses and shit I do not even remember. I was exposed to a lot of things, I watched him fuck chicks before I really knew what sex actually is. I also remember them ‘training’ a chick with friends. Man, I was in house parties because the house was my home, sleeping late watching all this shit. Dope! There were guns and drugs. I learned the style of dressing up like ipantsula at the same time I was learning how to deal with a person walking in through the door to announce that one of their accomplices is bleeding to death in the car outside. Fucking mess, fucking dope! but along the way came something else.
The other brothers who were my blood brothers age saw something I did not see. They saw the chance I had to turn out like him and they made time albeit very few times to talk to me. They told me I am smart, and I could be someone else that is not like my blood brother. I believed them because every night they were on TV, either in soapies, TV adverts or music videos. In the morning they are in the street like everyone else. Every time they called my name I was shook. I was like “These famous people know me, they know MY name. It was not only men, there were several women in my immediate environment too, but we are talking men for now.
With the contrasting influences including that of primary and high school teachers, neighbourhood fathers and other children, I became me. A me that was a mix of every male I ever experienced. Everything I did was channelling some type of male I experienced. When I was angry and violent I channelled males who were violent to me or around me. When I was nice and kind I channelled males who were that. I grew up. The search for me became stronger and stronger. This is when you begin the process of reaching out to your father and I did. By the time I was 25 and expecting my son, it was only 6 years after I began having serious talks about my father with my mother. He had been deceased for years before that period.
Meeting my father’s siblings and the extended family gave me a new identity. I am no longer just Banele the boy from Soweto, I am Banele Zulu. Direct from the bloodline of the greatest African nation. Pride! I was then taught the ways of the Zulu man while my father’s sibling was alive. That came with its own prejudices and mindset. It would be 10 years of living through this identity. It had its uses, I now had the confidence to name my child, know what rituals I had to do and how to perform rituals for myself and my future family.
BUT STILL, I WAS NOT MASCULINE.
All these identities helped to mould me and assist me to know how to navigate the world as a male, not a masculine man. It’s only just under a year I when began the process of defining my own identity as a masculine man. The first task figuring out was identity. Learn that I am not my influences, I am not my brother’s violent temperament, I am not my other brother’s celebrity status. I am not my intelligent teacher and many many male friends I made in school. I am not Zulu. I am not Banele. I am a human spirit living in a human form, with a male genital. It is from this understanding and separation from the external identities that I learned how to first live as a human being first and then understand the hormones raging in my brain creating the masculine energy. This energy is ingrained deep in my DNA I cannot fight it as much as I can’t fight that I was born in ’85 and not 92. My body is creating energy assigned to it. But now I understand it and its role. This changes my relationship with other males, my mind, my body, and women.
Masculinity is a map and a compass to how best to contribute to people around me. It is action and a vase I am growing in. The energy that enables and disables me depending on what I doing. It is an anchor that helps me not float in the air lost in the wind trying to make sense of what my role in society is. It is the way I make decisions and not the decisions themselves. It is the pain of loss and the joys of victory. Understanding this, the world I knew collapsed. A boy died, and a male adult died… a man was born at 36.
In the next article, I will tell you how my masculine body changes my self-perception, sex and position in society.