“Although the Mikhulu Trust book-sharing is just a drop in the ocean with the numbers we reach, it’s actually a big thing that can change a lot as far as the community is concerned. Here, we talk about a culture that is instilled in our mind – the manner in which we are brought up – and we did not see anything wrong with it until we came across the Mikhulu Trust.”
These are the words of Mr Bongi Mgquba, facilitator at the Men’s Fellowship in Kraaifontein, a faith-based organisation which runs under the banner of the Presbyterian Church. While the Men’s Fellowship is a national body, each church has its own group and each has a common goal: to promote outreach to all, with a particular focus on men. When the opportunity to become a part of Mikhulu’s book-sharing course arose, Men’s Fellowship in Kraaifontein jumped at the chance.
Millions of children in South Africa are growing up without a father in the home. Some may have a relationship with their dads that is somewhat positive, but many don’t have a deep relationship with their fathers at all due to societal practices that have become the norm in many instances.
Facilitator, Bongi, a father himself to children in their late teens, told us: “Fathers are always reserved – you will not find them in these workshops which is why Mikhulu Trust is zooming in on the men. The fathers are the ones who are always dragging their feet to come out but in the meantime, they are the main culprits and perpetrators of the violence.”
When asked about how the Mikhulu book-sharing project was impacting fathers in the area, Bongi explained that it was making men “softer” and explained that in the African culture, times are changing and book-sharing promotes the involvement of fathers in the upbringing of their children. “Fathers realise they cannot keep doing things in the same way they were doing things. We need to change our attitudes and our behaviours,” says Bongi.
Through the book-sharing training, fathers have reportedly become more attuned to their own behaviour towards their children. They have also become more aware of the necessity to be involved in their children’s lives and the fact that they are sending their children messages that can potentially lead towards future violent behaviour. “We learned at the book-sharing training to never spank your kids and to not talk to them with a particular attitude,” says Bongi. ”You can’t say you don’t spank your child but you still shout at your child because it’s really the same thing. When you are spanking your child each time they mess up, what you are saying to them is that every conflict in the world is resolved by violence. Continue speaking to them calmly, otherwise, we’re teaching them that differences are solved by violence. That is what this project has taught us.”
To learn more about Mikhulu Trust’s book-sharing project please visit their website: