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Health dialogue redefines masculinity | African Reporter

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The Pholosong Men’s Forum held a health dialogue for men to engage in unfiltered conversations on June 21.

The event at the Pholosong Hospital aimed to create a safe space for men to speak about the health and wellness issues affecting them.

The forum’s chairperson, Potlako Thipe, said they intentionally decided on a dialogue instead of a presentation.

“If we got someone to render a presentation, they would have spoken from their perspective, and that’s what we were avoiding,” he said.

Instead, the forum decided on a dialogue, allowing everyone to voice their opinions.

“Whatever you’re suffering from, in most cases, someone else has gone through it and probably has a solution or some advice.

“Some men believe in ‘indoda ayikhali’, the notion that men don’t cry. A man is allowed to cry, and there should be no shame around that,” Thipe said.

He highlighted men’s high suicide and substance abuse rates, ascribing it to men bottling up their emotions.

Ezrom Mosima, the programme MC and information officer, welcomed the guests. He introduced the hospital’s acting CEO, Dr Hlomile Mlahleki, who shared affirming words with the men, telling them their vital roles in society and their worth.

Mosima revealed that he looked forward to redefining masculinity during the dialogue. According to him, the definition of manhood varies depending on your cultural background, religious views and circumstances.

“We asked the men to define what it means to be a man, and it was interesting to hear the different responses.”

Mosima said he saw hesitation in the attendees’ responses.

“When you ask a woman what womanhood is, they respond confidently, but men tend to be unsure. Society has given us a pixilated image of what a man is. The environment you grow up in teaches you to identify a man by tangible possessions.”

He further said women mostly get praised for their nurturing, intelligence and loving natures, but men get praised for having fancy cars or money.

The problem with this mindset is that men might be disregarded if they don’t own materialistic things.

“As a society, our definition of manhood is flawed. Materialistic possessions are not constant, so we cannot attach them to a man’s identity or worth,” Mosima said.

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The dialogue brought awareness to health issues like depression that men often shy away from speaking about.

The Men’s Health Forum’s general secretary, Tebogo Medingoane, said the health department will focus on men’s health to observe June as Men’s Health Month.

He said the department had seen a pattern of men not consulting at the clinic until they were at the worst stage of an illness.

“We want to encourage men to go to the clinic for health checkups and screenings. You cannot merely rely on speaking with your friends about issues affecting you. Professionals are there to help you,” he added.

The day ended with a soccer game, a fun activity and a reminder to all to care for one’s mental and physical health.

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