The gang rape of a Soweto teen and the circulation of a video of the crime, was perhaps one of the most disturbing things to happen in South Africa in a long time. It made me wonder, what makes a man? Do men know?
I am planting words like seeds along your lifelines.
I want them to bloom into sentences, books, libraries…
Till you have forests of knowledge growing out of your palms.
So if ever you are tempted to clench your hand against the world,
I want the flowers between your knuckles
to remind you that manhood isn’t found at the end of a fist.
When the trees are fully grown,
I want you to cut them down and turn them into paper-
so you can teach other men that masculinity is not
sexual domination or physical strength,
but knowing the difference between wrong and right:
and acting on it.
When you look at a woman,
I want the shape of her eyes to remind you of your mother’s womb
and you in the center,
like the pupil in her iris,
never stop learning
and when the waters break- down her cheeks,
let them be out of joy, not pain.
Otherwise your daughter’s faith in men will be stillborn.
The umbilical cord like a noose around her identity
will be on your head;
as she confuses violence for love,
simply because they share four letters.
and as she responds to the word ‘whore’ as if it were her name,
because you were not around to tell her it wasn’t.
I want you to carry binoculars in your heart
that can penetrate into heaven.
Its pretty much hell down here, so I want you to learn
how they do things up there,
so you can make someone’s life on this earth heavenly.
There are so many images of what it means to be a man;
I want you to see through them and above them
till your thoughts and words are stepladders that lead to what is right.
finally I want you to believe in God.
So you can be humbled by the knowledge that you are
not the center of the universe.
As a woman, the pitch of my voice may be too high for some to listen.
but the truth is always at middle C,
So I want you to tap dance across these black and white keys
till you strike the right chord.
be the pied piper.
so at the end of your life,
there will be an entire generation of men whose greatest treasures
are the evergreens in their palms.