Being or becoming a MAN

Dear Porgie,

Being or becoming a MAN in the African culture has several stages and phases, some physical, but most just grey unspoken areas of Machoness.

Some of the more popular teachings of the Macho Curriculum are (1) MEN do not cry, and (2) MEN do not (commonly) express emotions like love.

So it has been 2 days now since your Sensei of these teachings was admitted to hospital. It’s not looking good. Hospitals will never look good. And he is not making it easy asking for time for you to meet alone for what is obviously the most unofficial hand-over ceremony EVER!

You are scared. And when you get your chance to speak in this meeting, you need to tell him that you are scared. That you are scared he will die. That you are scared we will not be able to make it without him. That we are in no way ready to be the MAN of any house. That you love him, and you are now praying he will make it out.

Yeah right! That's some emotional stuff. You’ll cry. MEN DON'T CRY.

Fast forward a couple of days that feel like they will never end! Every day is like 40 hours long. You can’t watch people cry anymore. You’ve seen MEN break this rule in this past week, I guess broken by the tears of the women around us. There is pressure to say something great about the Sensei, but all you want to tell him is how scared you are. This is not something to share with the world. Plus you have heard the advice from big brother – the Dj – who went through this a bunch of years ago. He has his advice locked pat …. THEY ARE WATCHING TODAY, DON'T CRY! YOU ARE ALREADY THE MAN!

So of course no one wants to hear the MAN’s emotional rant today, on his first official day in office. The MAN shall remain silent today, and focus on the task at hand.

Fast forward two years, interesting ones at that.

Things will start to change, the biggest one being THE MAN opens up the opportunity to experience and therefore define some of these rules more broadly. Filter and adapt them accordingly to your circumstance. The Sensei did it all the time, you’ll realize now! One of the greatest things that has come out of these years is love. Lots of it. From family and friends, some more unexpected than others. But the concept of love, and giving and accepting it, is opening up. And gratitude. There are people going out of their way everyday, and maybe they don't get thanked enough.

At the memorial, this story can finally be shared, and you can assume your position as MAN of the family with your first duty (2 years later) being to thank everyone and just show love. You might make some people cry. You might cry. But it will help you be a man. You’re ready right?

NOPE! Didn't happen. Luckily Uncle Jim, who was MASTER Sensei in the family, was on hand to be all the MAN anyone needed that day.  I wish if no one else, HE got to hear your man speech. To know you’re ready. It’s going to be one of his last public appearances ever, and the last time many see him as the MAN they knew him.

In hindsight I’ll tell you a few things …

MEN get scared.

MEN cry. (not all the time, and not in front of people, but they do face their fears when the need arises).

NOONE can make the rules for you. One of the biggest traits in the Macho culture is EVERYONE is right. Do what is right for YOU!

SPEAK your mind. IF not for anyone else, for YOU!

DO IT! Never second guess you. MEN are BRAVE. Be BRAVE.

(Try To) make your word your bond! Even just your word to yourself.

You will always be scared. You will want to cry. You will break some rules and make others. BECAUSE you are a MAN!


Mr Rosso

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