I was kind of disappointed to see how Black Friday overshadowed the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign last week.
As someone raised in a household where domestic violence was rife, the 16 days definitely means more to me than the chance of getting a bargain.
I also realise that I’m by no means unique on the Cape Flats.
And I’m only now starting to understand the psychology behind why my father had been such a violent man.
As I think about the effects of apartheid, how it emasculated talented men and stripped them of any professional dignity they dared to show, I start to understand the thread of frustration that must have permeated their lives.
I’m starting to understand how a man of limited education, skill and choices would’ve eventually been driven to drink.
As a bricklayer, I later learned how talented he had been and how quickly he picked up a new skill on building sites.
I’m only now starting to understand the effect the greater system had on him and, by extension, my little household and me as a boy growing up in Manenberg and Bonteheuwel.
To this day, both suburbs are synonymous with domestic violence, amongst other ills.
But it’s also synonymous with a high social tolerance for domestic violence.
I remember neighbours turning a blind eye and ear to my mother and I getting blue eyes on a regular basis. I hated my father for years.
Only recently did I start to understand the impact his surroundings had on him.
His actions can never be justified, but I now understand the role played by a system that was designed to erode his self-worth on a daily basis.
I also accept he was a weak man, who gave in to alcohol too easily.
However, an equal society should’ve made room for him and his weaknesses.
I still deal with the effects of those formative years. And I am often in conversation with men my age who tell similar stories.
If it wasn’t raw violence, it was disinterest or complete absence.
Over the years I have had to teach myself how to interact with the women in my life, especially when I am frustrated, angry or tense.
I try my level best to breathe, walk away and honour the beauty that is the feminine divine.
After all, women are the reason why we are all here, why we grow up to become the violent men that we become, and even what guarantees the future of the human race.
So why do we treat them so poorly?
These days I consider myself an aspiring feminist and I want to encourage all you guys to treat our women the way you want society to treat your mother, sister or daughter.
There is so much more to learn and self-discover when practising patience, restraint and empathy.
You end up feeling strong and very good about yourself.
On a lighter note, the Black Friday’s stampede also showed how desperate we all are for a bargain.