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Friday 19 April 2019
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The State of the Namibian Boy Child

The discourse on gender parity, equality and patriarchy have put the boy child in a wilderness of identity. The socially constructed toxic masculinities continue to be harmful not only to the girl child but the boy as well.
To better understand the issues plaguing the boy child we will have to begin interrogating the systems that surround the boy child.
Contrary to popular belief, the nuclear family that we idealize so much has been broken for decades and is not the silver bullet to deal with the societal ills.
It has been broken since pre-independence which is evident in the current landscape of Namibia. many children are being raised by single mothers who often, must overcompensate for absentee fathers (emotionally and physically).
Furthermore, the fathers that are present may not have had good role models in their families or in the communities they grew up in. the problem is further compounded by the layering of many other complex social issues such as poverty, education, employment.
Our communities have normalized violence furthermore, boys and children, in general, are both primary and secondary victims of violence.
They experience violence from adults, family, and peers as well as observe violence as it happens around them. Let me state the obvious masculinity is NOT toxic, it is the narrow-mindedness of our culture, violence and “man box” version of it.
Themes such as male privilege, toxic masculinity, and patriarchy have been so inherent in our way of life that we do not even realize the extent thereof.
These refrains are further amplified and reinforced by culture, religion, media, and lack of punitive action.
When young boys experience violence we tell them to man up, not to cry, to hit back, you’re trained to endure and fight and suppress empathy.
Too often, in my experience, the ways of men to boys lack all conviction. Sadly, modernity has failed to replace traditional codes with anything explicit, what we are left with are values that are residual, fuzzy and accidental.
In fragmented society boys and young men are forced to learn and create themselves as they go along. Which usually means they put themselves together from spare parts often those being friends, family and the media.
It is imperative that we realize that men are equally chained by misogyny which in turn narrows their experiences and becomes trauma that is passed to the next generation.
Children in and boys are born wild and that should be celebrated. But some do turn into brutes especially boys.
But we must take into consideration that they are conditioned into it due to, neglect, fear, socialization.
And when we meet them in the street and have them in our classrooms, we celebrate this negative behavior and cry foul when we see the level of violence perpetrated.
We persecute men for their noncompliance, their mistakes and or their faithful adherence to the scripts that have been written for them.
Boys need help. And, yes, men need fixing so to speak.
Boys may arrive into our communities with an endless amount of unexamined privilege.
I don’t deny that however, patriarchy is bondage for boys, too. it scars them. Even though they may not see it often and may profit from it.
Before we think about positive modeling for our boys, we have to take into account our internal mixed messages and expectations we put on our men and boys and start seeing them as human beings.
Human beings who need to be seen, heard, loved and completely known first as individuals before the collective.
Finally creating conducive environments for help seeking is paramount to seeing our boys and men, our communities and societies whole.
Steven Bernardus Harageib




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