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Photo Credit: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

Men can learn, just as young people can, to change and do better. Lebogang Seboni, 33, who was born and raised in Alexandra, Johannesburg, knows this all too well.

 

Johannesburg, South Africa (25 November 2022) – The normalisation of violence against women at the hands of men is rooted in the trauma men experience as young children and the way young women are socialised to exist around men. There are, however, no excuses for any form of violence against women.

Men can learn, just as young people can, to change and do better. Lebogang Seboni, 33, who was born and raised in Alexandra, Johannesburg, knows this all too well.

Growing up in the early 90s, a time of rapid change and political turmoil for the country, Seboni now sees how violence came to define his earlier years and how it shaped his personality in his adolescent years. Like the young men around him, Seboni grew up knowing violence as a solution to conflict. Whether it was between two men, a group of men or between a man and a woman, in his upbringing, violence was framed as a tool to assert dominance and a selfish but acceptable end to a means.

The positioning of women as an inferior section of society which needed to be led by men was also impressed upon him from an early age. Women must be checked and disciplined if they become insolent and disobedient. Women must be obedient to men. These are ideas he grew up believing without question.

As a teenager, dating became Seboni’s first practising ground for asserting this version of manhood. He quickly began to emulate the behaviours of his older male relatives and friends around him. At first, it began with verbal threats and talking down to any woman he was dating or interacting with. The threats and aggression soon escalated towards the young women he dated in high school. The women came to expect it, he says. As did the women he came to date in the years after he completed high school.

Seboni never struggled to replace one relationship with another and so, his pattern was never sufficiently punished. It wasn’t until he lost his job a few years ago that his perspective began to change. Suddenly he was left with nothing but time to reflect on his life and a chance to become someone better.

In 2020, Seboni was introduced to Father of a Nation (FAN), an NGO that guides young men through the struggles of masculinity. FAN’s work restores and equips men to be nation-builders, fathers and role models, here Seboni began to learn what he now teaches other men: How to bring positive masculinity into the communities they touch.

This was a very different narrative from the one he was used to growing up: The idea that a man can have physical strength and choose not to use it to wield power but to build families, communities, and nations.

“I saw a lot of violence growing up. In Alexandra, a lot of us grew up the same way, regularly seeing older guys beating up women, especially their girlfriends. As we understood it, if your girlfriend was acting in a manner you didn’t like, you needed to slap her or hit her, so she understood not to do that again,” says Seboni.

Seboni says he witnessed Gender Based Violence (GBV) at home, perpetrated by his own father against his mother and other women in their lives. He soon realised that even his father had learnt this behaviour from his own father. I had to be the one to break the pattern,” he says.

Seboni is now involved in campaigns that seek to eradicate GBV in townships. He wants to help troubled men channel their energy towards building and not destroying communities. Through the work he has done with FAN, with support by Bettabets, he is one of the forces of good in his community which seek to heal himself and others from the roots of GBV.

Through the Be A Betta Man initiative, Bettabets fully supports the FAN’s #NoExcuse campaign and men like Seboni who are passionately standing against GBV. As a responsible business, Bettabets has recognised the impact of the courses provided by FAN and have implemented an internal staff drive enabling all male staff to complete the course.

Seboni wants to dedicate his work to the memory of his grandmother and is committed to be the last generation that perpetrates violence against women.


Sources: Lebogang Seboni
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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