This is a plea to the good men in my life. And there are many:
Expedition Africa in Rodrigues is over and we are back home in South Africa and I still feel unable to fully process or make sense of the last 2 weeks. And this time I don’t mean the race, I mean the level of insanity that has been brewing forever under the rocky surface of my country and which was unleashed with a vengeance while we were feral somewhere half-way up a river gorge in the middle of the night on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. I can’t help feeling that while we fiddled around with maps and boats Rome was burning to the ground.
After 5 days of sleeplessness and racing, exhaustion and emotion are very close to the surface but the tidal waves of despair that hit me when I switched on my phone and began to catch up with a week of gut-wrenching missed news was unprecedented. OMG. Uyinene…. Oh our immortal and beautiful girl. While my own daughter Hannah was flitting around Rodrigues in a bikini on public transport, without a care in the world, this appalling tragedy (and way too many others) was unfolding back home. And I have no words just desperate, fearful, angry, urgent sobs. I feel dehydrated from weeping and racked with despair. How and when did it come to this? And what are we going to do? And how do we even begin to fix what feels broken beyond repair?
I have always believed with all my heart that together we can make things better. That hope is a doing word. But today, possibly for the first time ever, I feel that I have no hope. Because my doing will change nothing. The rage and mobilization and outspokenness of my sisters is an important first step. But it is only the collective, fervent, wholehearted action of the good men that can rebuild what is broken. You have to speak up, loudly. You have to reach out to un-fathered un-mentored men and boys and you have to help them become better men. We can’t do that on our own. You have to intervene when you witness violent or toxic or disrespectful stuff that is not Ok. You simply cannot mind your own business anymore because it has everything to do with you.
The overwhelming reason for my utter despair as I scrolled through all the torturous social media is that the strong, good, brave, gentle men I know are largely silent. Or they are chatting about other things and posting pictures of their week-end catch, or braai or sporting conquest as if their wives and daughters (and even their sons) are not in grave danger at all. But we are. Hope is a doing word but few of the men I know are doing. Begging has never come easily to me but I am begging you to raise your voice together with ours and to take the action that only you can take. And to stop waiting for us to ask nicely, or stroke your ego first, or to be less angry. This is a war, and we are all in the trenches together, and we need you to go over the top for us. Please.