KI: A DIFFERENT KIND OF BROTHERHOOD

Kwakha Indvodza is a male mentoring organisation with three community chapters dotted around our beautiful country. The chapters serve as a positive third space provided for the emajaha of the community to gather in a male-only environment to discuss gender awareness, social responsibility, male health and financial independence. Our regular case studies have shed light upon stories of success in the face of hardship but, similar to any organisation or home, we have our own daily challenges we must tackle to help shape and build these young men into positive outstanding members of the community. The participants of our programmes face daily challenges, external adversities that are beyond their power or willing spirits to face alone.

Take Siphesihle Malindzisa, for instance. Siphesihle is an 18 year old from our Mahlanya Chapter whose schooling was interrupted by the death of his parents and the inheritance infighting between his brothers that ensued.

Since his parents’ death, Siphesihle lives with his two older brothers in Mahlanya. His older brothers, both employed, control the inheritance and refuse to pay for Siphesihle’s school fees, causing him to drop out. Both his brothers feel like he should be working like they do in order to contribute to the homestead income. Unfortunately without finishing his schooling and getting his qualifications, the options open to Siphesihle are very limited.

“I knew I was going to fail”, he told KI’s Nosie Dlamini. “But I talked to the deputy principal at school, and I told him about how I had to fend for myself after school by doing informal jobs so I can sleep with a full stomach. Instead of doing my homework and studying for upcoming tests like other students, I’d be doing manual work until after dark.”

Siphesihle takes nothing for granted. He is eager to be in school, and should be doing his last year in kaLobamba Lomdzala High School, had his home life been more stable.

“My brother is a police officer; he knows most people and he can be very influential. I don’t know as to why the school hasn’t taken action since for the last two months I haven’t been to school. I am very depressed because I know I am missing whole topics and time is of the essence. All I want is to stay in school so I go to college and build a life for myself. I do not want all the money from the inheritance but just enough to survive.”

The work that we do at Kwakha Indvodza is possible because of our community-based staff members, volunteers. The wonderful men and women know the issues the youth of their community face and know when to take action. The KI team at Mahlanya contacted the Social Welfare department and accompanied Siphesihle as he went to report his case. Bringing an adult gave him confidence and ensured that his story was heard, and KI’s trained counsellors were on hand to guide him through the process.

As much Siphesihle’s case is tragic and saddening, it is not unique. His response to this problem, however, is rare. KI empowers its young men to take action by building their confidence, encouraging them to look for solutions and providing linkages to relevant sources of help. After reporting this injustice to Social Welfare and eventually the Master of the High Court, Siphesihle hopes that his brothers will release his school fees and allow him back to school. With KI support, he will eventually complete his education and can begin to plan his future as an Astronaut.

About half of Swazis live in poverty. Forty percent of Swazis are unemployed and 70 percent of the workforce is employed in sustenance farming. The literacy rate is 91%, however, just 5 percent of students go on to attend university. Siphesihle has every right to be at school and be part of that small percentage who are given the opportunity to complete their education and escape poverty.

“All of us do not have equal talent: but ALL of us should have equal opportunities to develop our talents”~ Abdul Kamal.

Siphesihle Obama Malindzisa