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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.

The Effeminization of Afrikan Men

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I am aware that some Afrikans are under the illusion that Black oppression is over. I’m not sure how to even respond to that illusion. So, to everyone else, I can only say “let’s do something about it”. Just talking about oppression certainly doesn’t liberate us. So let’s talk about the effeminization of Afrikan men. What does this mean?  Well, it has to do with various processes where the Black Male is made to stay weak and irresponsible, and plays a crucial role in the attempts to destroy the Afrikan Family. Let me explain.

To effeminate means to “make feminine” or become “more womanly” (and not in the caring, responsible sense). It is a process that happens over time and is the result of a power dynamic whereby White (male) Supremacy reacts to attempts of Black Male empowerment. These are subtle, yet militant, processes aiming at making the Black Male stay inferior, subservient and needy. Here are some examples:

Economic/political: An economic system where most Black Men are employees, not employers. Contributors, not leaders. Invited guests, not shot pullers. Writers, not publishers. Incarcerated, not law makers. Artists/dancers/soccer players, not entertainment moguls, coaches or club owners. Token politicians instead of decision makers (ex. the Obama-effect: LOOKS Black, ACTS white).

Myths/images of power: When the myths and stereotypes of the Black Brute (the potential rapist, the seductive sex beast, the brutal villain) become internalised in the Black Psyche, a culture develops where it LOOKS powerful to have a muscular masculinity (check Brothers in hip-hop, film and sports culture), yet the only thing PLAYAS can do well is to PLAY (not decide, own or create). Brothers become puppets and it is all masked as power.

Identity/psychology: Many of the behaviors that seem to give a Black Man entry into spaces of powerful masculinities (including sports, smoking ganja, rapping, running, being desirable, earning cash, buy a big house, have many girlfriends etc) become culturally coded in such a way that masses of Afrikan Men are DESPERATE to do/achieve these things, although they give NO power – only illusion and pretense. In addition, they are often destructive, confusing and cause further animosity between men and women.

Family: High numbers of female-led households mean that many boys are raised by women. Women who often care for them in such a way that they stay boyish, needy and dependent longer (boys get used to being looked after instead of providing, being sheltered from challenges rather than confronting them, developing needy and self-pitying emotions rather than assertive innovation). Im NOT saying this is the FAULT of the mother, it is a RESULT of the break-down of the Afrikan Family.

You might also recognise some of the above traits in churches/faith groups, popular culture and just what you see around you. But, what does this RESULT in? Why is this such a big deal? Isnt it true that everyone choses their own path? Well, the point here is that many Afrikan Men, because of the VOID of functional manhood (meaning: there are EXTREMELY FEW avenues in life where you can become a “Real Powerful Man” and be respected as such, in society), Brothers are forced to develop behaviour, attitudes and gender-roles that LOOKS powerful / manly/ masculine etc – but, in fact, are identities of weakness. And THAT is a big deal! How does this manifest? Let me explain:

The effiminisation process: When Black Men do not know how to shape and negotiate a positive manhood, have few cultural references available, do not have adult role models, become dependent on women (in a negative way), feel alienated from purpose and self, have little understanding of what it means to oppose/fight/change, get locked into stereotyped roles of masculinity, do not have words to articulate the pressure White Supremacy mounts onto them – they build up an inner confusion which can result in low self esteem, fear, emotional lock-down, anger, violence, substance-dependence, serial-dating, not being able to provide responsible fatherhood and a chronic feeling of failure. These are characteristics of effeminisation (= the de-masculinisation of the Afrikan Male, to make him redundant).

Sexual/gendered identities: Since we live in a hyper-sexualised society, many of these aspects manifest in, or take the shape of, sex-related behaviors and identities (having many partners, engaging in experimental sex, addiction to porn and masturbation, developing homosexual tendencies, sexual violence/coercion etc). This is, of course, different from person to person, family to family, community to community – but there are many similar factors when we look at Afrikan communities worldwide.

The powerless Afrikan male: At the bottom of all this is the result of Afrikan Males becoming increasingly dysfunctional, withdrawn, abusive, depressed, oppressive, angry, absent and unwanted. Further, this has a destructive impact on our roles as sons, brothers, partners, husbands, fathers and community builders. Many Sisters also develop a powerless impression of Black Men; they expect less from us, might not want us in their lives, have little respect for men and – in the absence of a caring man – experiment with finding love in female partners. This will impact strongly on how she – especially as a single mother – raises young boys and girls; the negative cycle continues. From our point of view; we are slowly becoming a nation where powerlessness is inherited from generation to generation. From the point of White Supremacy; this is a triumph for European rulership for ages to come.

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