Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

The team on their way to a visit a shelter in Namibia.

Now that Peter and I are back in New York and daily routines have taken over, we ask ourselves the “Shrek” question: “Are we there yet?”.

Of course not, we may have arrived back in Johannesburg or back in New York, but we are not there yet: the Ride on Speak out campaign to stop violence against women and girls just started!

We need millions of men as agents of change and we have many rivers and oceans to cross before we get there. Follow-up is what this ride is all about and we are full of ideas and plans to follow-up on.
Mo had a whole series of ideas for Ride on Speak out events in Southern Africa. One of them sparked my interest immediately and that was using the occasion of Valentine’s day. This could be an effective tool to remind ourselves and others that we must love our wives and partners, respect and protect them.

Another idea is to push our partnership beyond Harley Davidson Johannesburg and also establish a corporate engagement with Harley Davidson, the parent company. Further, we need to establish links with many other men’s groups, for example in other parts of Africa and the Middle East, as men can be such effective advocates for our cause to end violence against women and girls. We need men to reach other men and the younger we reach them, the more results we can expect. We want men to stand up and say: “I am against violence!”, a message of powerful masculinity to change men.

It was surprising to me that some women shared their hardship with us after we explained the reasons behind Ride on Speak out. One women told me how her ex “lost it” in front of the children and beat her up badly. The restaurant manager in Johannesburg I met complained about the psychological and economic abuse she gets from her boyfriend who just wants her money and does not contribute anything. She felt trapped in the bad relationship.

Ton and Redawaan meeting with our host.

It was also surprising to me that after 5,000 miles I did not have enough of motorcycling. I started fantasizing about riding back to New York via Nairobi, Cairo, Turkey, Denmark, ferry to Iceland, boat to Nova Scotia, Seneca Falls (where there is a women’s rights park to honor the birth of the women’s movement in the USA), all the way to Brooklyn. “Honey, I may be home a bit late”, I would say to Leslie my better half. “We are riding this campaign to a whole other level”, I would say to Kristin Hetle , my encouraging boss who kindly agreed to be driven around in my side car after returning to NYC. That was fun but I am unsure if she has that motorcycling bug yet.

In any event, Kristin strategic partnership director at UN Women deserves great credit together with Nomcebo Manzini, our regional program director in Southern Africa for making the Ride possible. So many others deserve credit for the Team effort as well. The many sponsors, the owner of Harley Davidson Johannesburg, Fanie Haarhoff, his manager Pierre Delport, Leandri Bosch, our UN Women colleagues Redawaan Hendricks and Agnes Phiri who worked day and night behind the scenes. Kevin for his magic as our mechanic. Theo as our sweeper, my protector and guide in the back who also led us in prayer! Wayne Taylor for his endless road planning, fun and entertainment and the other Wayne (Pollock) for his jokes. Werner for his web talent and perseverance. John for being a pro as our spokesperson. Frans and Johann for their music and good cheer. Garth and Eddie for their leadership skills behind our illustrious captain Wesley. Mo for his waving skills and the way he played the imaginary drums while riding 100 km per hour!

Ride On! Speak Out!

I am sure I am forgetting many others who deserve mentioning such as Peter Hood. Thank you for standing up in Harare at the press conference and challenging the criticism that we were too white as a Team (” my father is darker than you”), also for choking up in Windhoek at another press conference when he explained why he got involved in our cause, debunking the myth that real men don’t cry. All the participants and support crew were awesome. Now I miss them like crazy. Will I see them again? No doubt, but when?

Maybe in a few weeks when the video by Harm Jan and Chris of Shipyard Productions will be ready. Those guys were Omni talented and they donated at least four weeks of their time to produce the visuals of our story. Face to face meetings may take a bit longer but I hope it will happen in 2013.

Our cause demands action urgently, we need so much more that UN Resolutions. We need a movement to force governments to act, to have men to convince other men that women & men need to work closely together to stop the scourge of violence.

Thanks to Welda Mouton for the photos from our visit in Namibia – Editor

  1. Pierre Delport 28 December, 2012

    Thank you for bringing back these memories. Everyday i still wake-up wanting to meet up with everyone and departing on another couple of hundred kilometres. You are dead right in saying that this is far from over, maybe this one, but definately not keeping on spreading the word. We are already planning the stuff for 2013. Watch this space for all the happenings….. so don’t stop viewing this blog and our Facebook page. Become part of this cause by speaking out against Abuse!

  2. Garth Taylor 28 December, 2012

    Definitely missing the ROSO team today specially since reading the blog from Ton. In fact I’m gonna wear my pit shirt today to lunch with family. Ha ha! I still have my beard and will keep it until the 23rd November 2013 at which point it will have been 365 days symbolising my commitment to the cause to end violence against women and girls. Small inconvenience considering the long time suffering of women globally.

  3. Ingo Klitzke 28 December, 2012

    I live in Keetmanshoop, Namibia. I have a guesthouse here and had at the beginnining of your tour made an offer that I will house you free if you pass Keetmanshoop. Well you went to Windhoek. I repeat my offer and you you perhaps plan a tour for 2013 for the Northern Cape and Namibia you are welcome. Let me know how I can assist. Ingo Klitzke

  4. John Koller 28 December, 2012

    Ton, thank you – you brought back some amazing memories and the reality of exactly what this journey was about. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was merely the beginning and that we as a Team will continue to what we need to do in 2013 to continue to build the group of men who are prepared to SpeakOut. I have a few ideas which we can talk about over lunch today in New York, looking forward to seeing you and Peter

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