About Author

Baba Buntu

Baba Buntu is an Activist Scholar and Founding Director of eBukhosini Solutions; a community-based company in Johannesburg, specializing in Afrikan-Centered Education. As a Pan-Afrikan educator, writer, mentor and practitioner, Baba Buntu has more than 30 years of experience in conceptualizing and contributing to programs on social development, innovative entrepreneurship and cultural empowerment. He has founded a number of community interventions based on practical approaches to Black Consciousness and decolonial methods. With experience from working engagements in Afrika, the Caribbean and Europe, Buntu’s passion lies within people-centred development for practical empowerment of Afrikan youth, families and communities. He holds a Doctoral and a Master Degree in Philosophy of Education from UNISA.

How do i put my life in order as a young Afrikan Man?

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Question from “Tshepo” (21 years old):

Baba, I want to be a responsible Afrikan man, but the truth is I love going to parties and get drunk. I get silly with my friends and I want to have fun. Is this wrong? Well, to be honest, Im not always sure what I get out of the parties, because I often just feel empty and lonely afterwards. And have headaches the next morning. Actually, I feel a deep void inside of me and I don’t know how to remove it. I respect women, but when I’m at the parties I just want to sleep with them. The next morning I don’t want anything to do with them. I will tell myself to stop going to parties, but next week I find myself there again. I’m lonely, and it hurts. And I never talk about it to anyone. I think I’m addicted to alcohol and girls, even if I know that I’m not gaining anything from this. Why do I keep doing these things and how do I regain my power?

Response:

Thank you for your question and I love that, at least, you are honest. This is an essential aspect of Warriorhood that gives you integrity. I think the first question you must ask yourself is do you REALLY have fun every time you go to a party? If you are truly honest, how many parties can you say that, looking back at them they really satisfied your wish, they really made you feel so good and that you learnt something valuable. See, sometimes, we do things because they become a habit, but we don’t stop to ask why or what is going on.

It is interesting that you mention addiction. Most guys will never admit that they are addicted to something. Maybe because most of us dont really get to understand what it is. Here are some indicators to see if you have an addiction: You feel a compulsion to do it quite often. You will do it even after regretting and saying you will slow down. You feel empty inside when you don’t do it, and when you haven’t done it for a while you start thinking about it, almost so much that it becomes an obsession. It is easy to be persuaded to go along when others are suggesting it, you don’t have resistance. You realize that it harms you in some way, but can’t find the strength to change it. You find yourself excusing your behaviour, saying “Im not as bad as Sipho” and “at least I don’t do what-what” to cover your sense of guilt or worry. You find yourself doing this even at times when you know you should definitely not (f.ex. when you have something important to do, you must be up early the next day etc).

You need to have a very serious conversation with yourself about the following: Why would you do something to yourself that makes you feel doubtful, empty and gives you a headache? And why would you do this repeatedly, when you know the outcome? Do you really love yourself that little? Do you think you don’t deserve, or are able to do, better? You say you have a void that you don’t understand. I take that to mean that you try to suppress this void, am I right? You just register an emptiness, but never take the time to really find out why and what this is? Let me tell you, if you don’t work on finding that out now, it will haunt you for the rest of your life. I cannot tell you what it is, but I can give you some advice on how to work through it and find out:

You need to ask yourself why are you going to parties, why you drink and why do you want to sleep with the women you meet there. Is it because you have friends who do this, and you feel some kind of pressure to prove your manhood?  You do realize that if you sleep with them, you are using them for your own pleasure. Which is the opposite of respect. So don’t say you respect women when you don’t show it.

I think you are touching a very important point when you mention loneliness. If you know that your problem is loneliness, now that gives you something to work with. What makes you feel lonely? Do you not have good friends? Or is it you who doubt yourself so much that you don’t dare to give anything in a friend relationship? Sometimes we get into patterns where we demand sexual relations to make up for what we are really seeking; To be close to someone, to be of importance in someone’s life, to be validated. Casual sex doesn’t do this. Instead, it deepens the sense of loneliness.

How can you regain your powers? By confronting your fears. I would take it that you are someone who thinks a lot. And think even more again. Until such a point that your head becomes heavy. To avoid this, you can take back your powers by taking responsibility for yourself. Let us say you feel sad for yourself because you have a bad relationship with one of your parents. It upsets you and you spend much time on building anger on this. But you never talk about it. It becomes an unspeakable pain. And the relief becomes alcohol. The substitute becomes girls. Now, if you are a knowledgable man, you will know that you must DO better as well. Knowledge is worth nothing if it doesn’t manifest in action.

Here is what you will do:

  1. Start writing a journal. Write about your fear, inhibitions, insecurities, strengths, skills, dreams, desires – EVERY THING that comes to your mind. Do not hold back. It might feel strange to do this, but I suspect you do not talk to your friends about “stuff”, so this is a way you can start by understanding your own thoughts and create some balance.
  2. Spend time with your friends differently. If you feel you don’t want to dismiss them, spend time with them day time, but don’t go out with them at night. Find excuses. Do other things. Go somewhere else. Without them. (This is only if think this would help you to do more healthy things when you are out: Dance without drinking, talk to people without picking up girls etc. If you can’t, you must make a plan not to go out at all!)
  3. Identify someone you trust who you have regular talks with. You can share some thoughts with me, and we can have a talk if you want to come and see me. It is always helpful to talk to someone in confidence, an Elder or someone who has lived longer than you and can give a different perspective. But it must be someone you trust.

As Afrikan men, we find ourselves living half-lives most of the time. We do not embrace our strength, our qualities greatness and do not step into our purpose on this life mission. We keep waiting for a break-through. An opportunity. Some one to come and love us. And acknowledge us. And, as we wait, we keep telling ourselves that we cannot do this, we cannot do that. “I cant get up in the morning”, “I cant keep a relationships” etc. And, let me tell you, until you take your powers back, you will always feel half. You are not supposed to feel half. And you have been equipped with many abilities to take control of your life.

As you become more aware of your problems, do not sink into shame and self-hate. Know that there reasons for how you feel that are beyond your control (history, coloniality, racism etc). Yet, knowing this doesn’t mean you cannot do anything about it. Take pride in that you can open up and take responsibility. The quest of Afrikan manhood is to be a conscious warrior who fearlessly can take an honest look at himself and admit his faults, face them and change them. You can do that. If you put your WILL into it.

You are young and there are still many things that need to mature in you. But the road to your Warriorhood has started. And Im encouraging you to push yourself each step of the way.

Expect greatness from you. Because I expect great things from you.

Much strength.

Baba

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