Thabani Mashava – Our April Man of the Month

What defines you as a man?

My convictions define me, as well as my faith in God. I believe in being a straight person: a man of integrity who lives above board. I have strong family values; I respect the institution of marriage and the family unit. I take very little interest in the things which exclude my family, especially my wife. We have been married 16 years.

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Does God influence your experience of manhood, if yes in what way?

God has changed my perception of what a man is. Growing up I didn’t have the desire to settle down and commit to anyone. I figured if I made my money and had a baby somewhere who I supported, that would be fine.

I didn’t learn the role of a man growing up. My mother was the one who was present most of the time and was therefore more hands on. It is when I became a Christian man, that I realised that as a man, as a father and a husband I have got to be hands on. I also learnt that I should be, and it is ok for me to be sensitive to the needs of my family. I have enjoyed spending real time with my family. I have been teaching my daughter to cook and bake.

What is your role in your family?

My role is to love and serve my family as well as to manage and coordinate things so that my family is a functional unit. I’m also responsible for the children’s upbringing. My role is also to bring out the best in my wife and let her know she can depend on me.

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Is the role of protector important for a man?

I believe that role is one of the key roles for a man.

How do you protect your family?

I protect my family by having a good relationship with them. I can’t protect my daughter if I don’t have a good relationship with her because I need to teach her what a good man is supposed to be: a man who will treat her well.

I protect my family from faithless living. Living a Godless or faithless life gives rise to anxiety and fear. I don’t think children should be driven to a point of being anxious about fees or food. In times when we are lacking I want them to have faith in God so that they are not worried about it.

What challenges do you face in being protector of your family?

It is very challenging to protect my family when as a man I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It is also challenging when your family doesn’t understand what you are trying to do and there is no family cohesion. It doesn’t help that society these days encourages distortion of family cohesion.

Do you think men need protection? If so what do the need protection from?

Yes men do need to be protected. Men are more sensitive than women think. Men need emotional protection from anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. They also need to be protected from temptations. Wives need to try and understand their husbands and be there for them.

Does the law do enough to protect men?

No, the law needs to do more to include and protect men against abuse, sexual harassment and rape. I used to laugh about men who spoke about paternity leave. When I became a father I realised what is really involved in raising kids. The law should include men when it refers to parenting to encourage men to participate and support their wives in raising the kids more.

What do you teach your children to protect themselves and each other?

I am still working on it. I tell them “the two of you are flesh and blood you owe it to each other to look after each other”. I also tell them to be careful of predators and to communicate. I tell my son to speak up if he has a problem with someone or something. I encourage openness in the family.

What advice would you give young men who are new to marriage and are faced with the role of protector for the first time?

Firstly, you can’t do it successfully without sound biblical teachings. I find it virtually impossible. You also need to think about the other person. Don’t go into marriage thinking ‘what can I get’ or with expectations of what she should be bringing to the table. You should enter into marriage intending to give and meet the other person’s needs. Usually your partner will reciprocate. Your first question should be – what can I give?