End of year function at the coffee shop.

COACH MASUKU: (stands up and raises a hand to get the attention of the seated attendees) Alright, gents. Thank you! Let’s settle down!

(The laughter, and conversations quieten.)

COACH MASUKU: Welcome, ‘magents! We’re once again seated in this circle of trust to share, hold each other accountable, reflect and celebrate. I’m proud of each and every one of you. (looks each of the men in turn directly in their eyes) Sometimes the fight is just showing up. Knowing that the odds may be stacked against you, and you are not expected to succeed, but you show up anyway.

(The men murmur in agreement.)

COACH MASUKU: You showed up. Not for me, but for yourselves, and your families. More on that later. Just a couple of things to mention. The Passing the Torch Camp was a resounding success and…

(Everyone claps and cheers.)

COACH MASUKU: (grins) It was a pleasure to meet your sons and nephews. This event was about creating a safe environment for our children to confide in us and ask questions about things they wouldn’t ordinarily have an opportunity to ask. It was also about affording us an opportunity to bring along the boy-child who perhaps has been abandoned by society, or simply has no good male role models to look up to, and show them love and support.

MAKGATHO: Hai! Mara, coach, some of those questions really put some of us on the spot in unexpected ways. (chuckles)

(A few men agree and laugh heartily.)

COACH MASUKU: Yes, they did, Makgatho, but those sessions were designed to: one, allow our children to see us dealing with vulnerability; and two, build trust by opening up channels for honest communication. (gives a wide smile) And with the tools learnt on camp, I’m hoping that those intimate conversations will continue in your homes, with these men-in-the-making. Bear in mind that some of our children have only ever known us by the labels we have been directly or indirectly assigned: the disciplinarian, the useless father, the bully, the drunkard, the idiot husband who can’t find or fix anything, the…

(Everyone laughs.)

COACH MASUKU: For those of us who are not yet fathers, it was an opportunity to get a glimpse of what it really takes to help bring another human being into this world, be responsible for them, but more importantly, be emotionally present. Furthermore, this camp was about handing down positive teachings, experiences and collective wisdom for survival through role play, activities, prayer, meditation and fun! It was about making it clear what is and isn’t acceptable in today’s world as we evolve into more present, emotionally-in-touch men, opening up old wounds to promote true healing.

HENDRIK: Jong! I cried like a newborn. (covers his face with both hands)

SBUSISO: Yes, but your family will benefit from that process, and so will you.

COACH MASUKU: Our next event, by the way, will be Being the Standard, which is designed to get us to not only bond and better understand our daughters and nieces, the girl-child, but teach her that she doesn’t need the permission of a man to shine. That she has a powerful voice that must be heard. Let’s do away with raising the girl-child to one day be a good wife, sacrificing her dreams and hard-earned education, so that the “head of the household” (holds up two fingers to indicate quotation marks) can flourish.

(A few men nod as they listen attentively.)

COACH MASUKU: Dates will be confirmed in due course.

Tell us: What conversations do you wish you could have with your parents or relatives? What’s standing in the way?