Malawi is one of the roughest and most difficult place to live in—it tallies to the common saying that if you can survive here the odds of thriving elsewhere are high. Life, especially for boys and young men is stamped by an unending struggle to see a good upbringing. In fact, with the new era, the hustles of a boy child, born in the African but Malawian soil in particular, starts from the day of conception.
The boy child at the age of five years is considered a fighter; they can hustle and tussle to make it through without equal opportunities, support, guidance and protection shoveled to the counterparts. What a pity! `
It so logical to attribute low school attendance of children to long distances of walking but it is erroneous to use it to advantage one gender. A boy child of similar age is also susceptible to similar challenges, but who cares? The boy child has been forgotten, he has been cropped out of the picture.
Malawi, evidence has it that primary, secondary and not sparing tertiary education has registered more male dropouts in the past ten years. The statistics are supposed to scare everyone but to my surprise all we do is raise eyebrows and shun away like a scared rabbit.
In my community, there was an outcry of a victimized 14-year-old boy by an elder woman who forced him to indulge in sexual activity. The boy was immediately condemned and shown gates of hell for defamation. Even the chief failed to acknowledge sodomy over the boy.
Similar stories though on a smaller scale happen over the country but they are masked by unbelieving top officials. Boys being sodomized and all society has done is look the other way, hoping the cases will succumb a natural death.
The damage impacted on victimized boys is just the same as the normal rape that everyone spits saliva over. Actually, the difference is only a question of semantics but the feeling of desolation, devaluation, worthlessness and powerlessness that clamp the victims cannot be translated into words.
In my village in lower Shire, at the age of seven, the boy child is introduced to grazing cattle and goats, introduced to farming in big farms of WA-ZUNGU, introduced to begging in the streets, etc. If you would walk in the streets at night who do you think you are more likely to bump into?
These directionless male children prefer the streets to beg for money or rummage in garbage heaps in the city suburbs (kuntaya) to collect empty Frozy bottles to sell and earn money.
Because of unequal opportunities, support and guidance the young men are being lost. Chronic alcoholism is preying on them especially in the ghettos in the watchful eyes of the community leaders and authorities.
In Kenya for instance women held public demonstrations calling upon the government to intervene and save their men from alcohol consumption.
Because the nations, Malawi in particular have neglected the male child, they have been enslaved by the bottle and the cigar of marijuana and certainly will forget to develop their responsibilities as bread winners and protectors of families. Well, the government will still shovel the blame on them without reflecting on what the community and the government sowed.
Boys and young men are whipped with a hot iron rod in the name of gender equality, but gender equality needs to be equal-equal in the sense that there is no view of one gender being weaker than the other. Equality ceases to be equal when there is allocation of resources on one side of the balance than the other.
In my village where I attended my primary school, there was never an organization focusing on the male child—none. No any program intending to mentor and give direction to the boy child, all we knew was to rush to the football ground. The male child is blurred on the picture.
Why should the boy child of today suffer because historically the other gender was marginalized? Are we not creating discrepancies that would need future refinement?
Because the young men are without support, direction, guidance and mentorship, they turned into chained-smokers, alcohol addicts and school leavers. They are the same young men who contribute to the increase in the number of school pregnancy dropouts.
Both genders need to be educated and mentored. It is wrong to assume that boys know their natural need to be educated and to grow up with good behaviors. We will be wrong as Malawi if we give divided attention and forget that tomorrow will come when we will need the boys to become men.
When women and children look at a man, what they want to see is security, ability to provide and responsibility. However, very little if none is being done to mold the boy child to grow up into this ideal man that the community expects.
There is need for more programs, organizations, and the government to come out as mentors for both boy and girl child and not only using them as political party toys. There is a need to guide and teach them of what is expected of them as they grow up into men. We need to build the ideal man for our increasingly educated girls.
We need to transform the boys into independent “Men of Tomorrow” through their sheer efforts. After all we all need them.