Not in our name!

Not in our name!

Riding on the open road- just man and machine- brings with it an immense sense of joy, of self, but also an unexpected offering of stillness. Reasons to reflect, moments to measure, chances to consider…. Sometimes it even makes us stop, take our helmets off and survey the scenery we have ridden past countless times but may not have noticed before or taken the time to enjoy. It’s the same view, but with more than just a passing glance, it’s a view of what’s been right there in front of us. You’ll find you start seeing things that you thought were never there before.

So you know that nagging feeling you sometimes get when you’re subconsciously putting something off? Finding excuses not to do what you know has to be done. Procrastinating! The fact is, things got a little more serious than what I’m used to last week and I wasn’t sure how to put this in an update and do it justice. Do it not in my name, but in the name of Speaking Out !

Here it is.

Mbuyiselo Botha, Media Liaison for Sonke Gender Justice Network

I often find myself smothered by society and crave the solace of the road. To say I’m excited about this trip is a huge understatement, but everything comes at a price.  I’ve been thinking about the “cost” of this journey, what is it that we have to do? That question was answered last Thursday.

Our UN partners insisted that we undergo some form of training before our departure and invited Mbuyiselo Botha, Media Liaison for Sonke Gender Justice Network, to run a workshop with the Ride On! Speak Out! team.

Wounded and subsequently disabled during the Sharpeville uprising, Mbuyiselo has a very unique sense of humor, and used it to poke fun at himself and the riders good naturedly during the meeting. He did not run a traditional “workshop” but rather spoke from the heart, touching on some key issues around gender equality and the ‘role’ of men within our society, everybody’s society.

Some of his wordly offerings.

Men are all wired the same, no matter the creed or culture. To that point, neither creed nor culture can ever be used as an excuse for violence. We are not born violent men. Life, circumstance, neglect or abuse often creates it. The time has come for all men to take a clear stance against violence – but for that to happen- we need to change some long standing archetypes in society.

The fact is, “violence is all about us”, that is how we (men) solve problems.

An example (not an excuse) of one of these archetypes, used by Mbuyiselo, is the way society still puts burden on men to ‘provide’. Failure to do so for whatever reason puts pressure on that individual’s self worth and the result of the unfortunate emotional outburst? Violence!

We also have sons who are growing up without fathers in their lives, without role models to learn from, to look up to. Society needs more fathers with self-worth and confidence, according the Mbuyiselo.

How do we change that?

Violence by any man is a reflection on all men. It’s time for men to say, “Not in my name!” This implies that we need to engage with other men and practice what we preach.

I personally can’t speak for the rest of the 14 riders but before this session, I thought that I was going on this trip for “Women and Girls”.  It’s about stopping to look at the scenery of our society, take the blanket off of our ignorance and look at what we have never seen before. Give more than a passing glance.

At our first meeting Nomcebo Manzini (Regional Programme Director for UN Women) asked us why we were doing this trip. I said that I was doing the 7800km for my Mom, an awesome lady living in Cape Town. If everybody had a Mother like mine in the world, the world would be a better place.

After this session, I felt a little embarrassed because I forgot someone, and I think society sometimes forgets them as well.

If Nomcebo had to ask me again, this time I would answer, my Dad. I’m doing this trip because I believe we need more fathers like him. An awesome guy who loves his wife and treats her with the respect she deserves.   This is my confession, but it’s also my commitment. Helmet off.

We doing this trip to Speak to other men – “Not in our name”  – Ride On! Speak Out!

  1. Pierre Delport 30 October, 2012

    Thanks Werner. I do not believe that anyone else could have captured this any better than you did. I KNOW that we will have many more such experiences on the trip and therefor i can only thank the UN Women Africa for allowing a videographer to accompany us and capture the trip for us to share with you all.

  2. Fanie Haarhoff 30 October, 2012

    Thanks Werner. From the heart and the soul!! Men are scared to – speak out – in general. You guys are shouting it out by doing this ride and committing to it in such a way! That is why the dealership id backing and sponsoring the cause and the riders!! It is taking hours and days of organising and sorting through the red tape. You are all involved !! Thank you!!

  3. John Koller 30 October, 2012

    Phew, Werner your interpretation of Thursday evening is fantastic. Mbuyiselo put a message across that made me think very seriously about the journey we are about to embark upon. “Not in my name” is the clear message. Ride On! Speak Out!, and as Fanie says most of us have been “taught” not to speak out about these emotions, for me those days are over.

  4. Geoff Simmons 30 October, 2012

    Exceptional write-up Ween. You’re sharing the story of the unfolding events of this epic journey better than Forrest Gump. Those of us who are on the outside of the inner circle of riders and support are being kept in a grip of wondrous awe by your literary spewings and being educated along the way. Write Weener, write!

  5. Jakes / Kobus Rawlinson 3 November, 2012

    Werner, I dont know you, but very well said! There is a saying “you strike a woman, you strike the rock”, which also worth reflecting on. Having worked at the coalface dealing with abused, physically and sexually assualted women and young children, I support this ride 200% plus. Open up and speak out guys, you’ve got nothing to loose but one hell of a lot to gain.. Im sure the UN guys can provide you with some documents to get a grip of the magnitude of the problem. If I can help with resources on any aspect of the problem, just ask my cousin Johann R to get the message to me, and I will supply. Ill follow the trip with keen interest.

    1. Werner Puchert 3 November, 2012

      Thanks for the comment and support Jakes.

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