What do we want from our future fathers? What do we expect from them? How do young men become better men for the future? How can young men become vulnerable and express their emotions? What is your truth? Is crying a weakness for young men?
These were a few of the deep questions our Young MOTivators explored on the Empowering Future Fathers Figures camp on the weekend of 3-5 August 2018 in Franschhoek at the Bridges Retreat Centre.
An open and positive discussion about manhood and what is expected of them as Young MOTivators was the starting point to these opening questions on Friday, 3 August.
MOT South Africa founding Board member, Jannie Isaacs, opened the camp with a thought-provoking talk on what it means to be a man, a father, and a husband. He unpacked the topic using illustrations and stories which captivated the minds of the youth. Many of them referring to what he said to them and quoting him on various occasions throughout the duration of camp.
Jannie asked them: “Do you have a choice of the father you should and can be?” He explained we do have a choice: “We have the power to determine our own future.”
He shared the Indian Cherokee legend of the two wolves. This story illustrates the internal battle every one of us has between good and evil – the choice between doing what is right and what is wrong. “Which wolf will win the fight?” he asked. “The one you feed,” he answered illustrating that we all have a choice to be either a good or bad person. He illustrated the values a man should have to be a great father.
He expressed his concern that men need to have straight talks with the young men in our communities about what it takes to be man because as he said: “If you aspire to be a father, you firstly need to aspire to be a man.”
Later, Andiswa Makha, Programmes and Training Manager of MOT South Africa, opened the conversation on the MOT values and principles, discussing various MOT concepts and tools such as the MOT Bridge. The MOT Bridge unpacks behavioral norms such as showing emotions, being a good role model, setting goals, showing enthusiasm, including others, giving praise, showing respect, daring to choose your own path and showing love.
Many of the youth unpacked these themes, sharing their own words of wisdom. It was said men should be the protectors, the providers and leaders of their communities. They must show strength and are not allowed to show emotion yet, without emotion how can we relate to other people? How can we be good peer educators if we do not show others that it is okay to cry and be human? These were some of the questions the Young MOTivators reflected on during this session.
When speaking about choosing your own path and setting goals as a young man, Sandile Myeni from Boland College, said to become a man with these values, is about determining your character as a man. “Your character is your brand. You need to ask yourself: What kind of integrity do I have?” he shared with the group.
When speaking about role modeling, Young MOTivator from Northlink College, Sonwabile Mdini, said his role model is his mother because she shows him what it means to look after a family with little money. Despite his circumstances of growing up without a father, she managed to give him and his sisters all the love and provision they need. “My mother is my role model because she is there for me and encourages me,” he said.
The Young MOTivators all agreed that integrity, doing the right thing when others are not watching you, showing interest in others, and being generous is what a Young MOTivator should be. They all shared the same sentiments that role modeling starts with them and they must believe in themselves and the qualities they possess.
Andiswa reiterated to the young men the following: “It is important to package yourself well to role model to others well. Be mindful of who you are following and who you are influencing.”
The youth all agreed that to choose one’s own path is not an easy task. But to accomplish your goals, one needs to step out of your comfort zone.
Day two of the camp was a very busy day filled with lots of action and activities.
The crew of SABC 3’s Morning Expresso show joined us at the camp to capture MOT magical moments. Watch the video below.
Expresso presenter, Katlego Maboe, created some real fandom and some of the youth even started their own Expresso show interviewing Katlego himself!
We had our camp sponsors, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet’s Helene Brand and her team, join us to meet our young men. She too shared her insight with the young men on how to conduct a great interview.
We also had our steadfast funder, Pioneer Food’s, Devendri Adari, visit us.
Our Young MOTivators also had the privilege of engaging with our very own MOT SA Board Member, Zozo Siyego, during the MOT Philosophy morning sessions.
We had the immeasurable pleasure of hosting our guest speaker: Funnyman and father of three, Nik Rabinowitz. He entertained the young MOTivators with an entrée of jokes and shared his experience and advice on being a husband and father. Nik was honest with the youth and quite forthcoming about the struggles of marriage and having children.
He shared that he was fortunate enough to reflect on his life as a young man and look at the parts which do not work as those are the parts which one needs to chip away to create oneself. He stressed the importance that our past does not define us. “We have the power to design our own life. We do not need to copy our fathers and become them. We can choose a different path.”
Nik opened the floor to Young MOTivators. One of the Young MOTivators asked: “As a comedian, how do you face the challenges of being a father and a husband?” He answered: “You need to remember your WHY in life. Why do we do the things we do? What is your purpose? And that is derived from designing your own life. I always knew I wanted to make a difference in South African society by creating unity between various people and I do it through my comedy.”
Nik illustrated when we face challenges, we need to separate the facts of our failures and the meaning behind our life. “When you fail, separate the facts of what happened and how you interpret what happened.
“This notion that you must find yourself somewhere in the wilderness is nonsense. You already have it. You must just create it for yourself. If you are going to be a leader find your voice and expression.
“Interact with your baggage. Deal with your stuff. Create and design the kind of life you want to lead because anything is possible,” is the message Nik left them.
Later that day we had our very own Brand Ambassador, Simon Ekin, speak to our Young MOTivators on what it means to have courage as a son. He shared his own personal story of his relationship with his father.
He encouraged them to tell their fathers they love him. “We often do not do this because we are so afraid of rejection; of hurt but actually it is just fear. It is what we do not do which makes us angry,” Simon said.
He said the young men should do the following:
- “Take responsibility for your own peace. Express your awareness and emotions. The number one cause of cancer is what we do not say. What eats us and kills us because we hold onto something.”
- “We must have the courage to overcome our fear and have the difficult conversation with our father.”
- “Forgive your father and yourself through kindness.”
He mentioned that there are 40 000 words that express how we feel, yet there are four main feelings we generally feel:
These are the feelings we can always try and reflect on because it is simple in its form and easy to find in ourselves, therefore easier to know how to deal with our emotions as men.
“If you could hear one thing from your father, what would it be?” Simon asked the young men. Everyone answered: “I love you.”
“We live in a society where every man needs to hear that because it cuts deep into the core of us as human beings – To feel that connection with our father’s.”
Young MOTivators were encouraged to share their stories about their own fathers. They also had to share how they feel about their father and the gift he has given them.
Despite some fathers not being in their children’s lives, the youth discovered that their father left them with a little something. Sonwabile said: “My father and I rarely communicate but what he did leave me was some advice and that was to receive an education because my father did not have that opportunity.”
But mostly, Simon pressed on the fact that our father give us the gift of life and that is the one most inspiring thing there is.
Simon made the young men realize that parents also make mistakes, but don’t have the skills to communicate how they feel. “You are now receiving the various skills on how to communicate with your fathers at this camp, you are more empowered to be better men, a better son and a future father,” he said.
“If we do not sort out the stuff we have with our Dad’s, we will do the same with our children. We must express your hearts,” is what Simon left them with.
The Young MOTivators ended of their second day with a man-to-man talk around a fire with MOT Alumni mentors: Marlon van Diemen, Gary Newton Speelman and Aurelio Pedro João.
On day three of the camp, the various colleges presented their MOT sessions that they had to prepare the night before. They also had to present the various projects they are to implement at their college campuses, with some very surprising ideas such as a Buddy-Buddy system at Boland College Caledon campus and a mentoring peer educator system at Northlink College, Parow campus. James Dingaan from College of Cape Town, Thornton campus, said he will implement a Courage2Care day where he will show his peers that it is okay to share and be someone whom you can talk to.
Click here to view the photo album from the camp.
If you would like to know more about the camp and any other projects MOT South Africa will be hosting, please contact the MOT Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.