I am inspired by the women in my life. My mother, my wife, my daughters and my sisters. I love you all. You inspire me. And then those women from Africa. Those women who carry our people on their backs and cradle our continent in their arms. The same women who suffer at the hands of us African men. This piece was written for them…

 

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Long Live Mama Africa!

 

I am always amazed at how people from outside Africa look at Africa and always have an “oh shame” expression on their faces. They somehow feel sorry for the people of Africa. You know. How could you not? How could you not feel sorry for the people of Africa when all you see in the papers and on the charity cards are the faces of hungry children and suffering women. You can’t have a heart and not feel sorry for them. Especially not for the women of Africa. Or can you? Sorry is not the emotion we want you to feel when you look at us. And sorry is not the feeling you should have when you look at the women of Africa. They have given birth to Africa. To all the children of Africa. And they carry Africa on their backs. The same way they carry the children of Africa on their backs. They carry Africa and the children while they work in the fields. While they toil in the sun. Getting the food ready for our people to eat. Don’t feel sorry for them. Celebrate them. They are the power in our arms. The speed in our footsteps. And the food of our souls. Hear them roar.

Let me tell you a story that plays out in Africa every single day. And then you will know to never feel sorry for the women of Africa.

Every single day you will find women selling fruit next to the road. Walk the dusty roads of Africa and there they are. Working from before the sun rises to after the sun sets. To sell their goods as people commute to work and back. And they walk for miles to go and buy those fruits and vegetables. To get ready to open the “doors” of their business in time to hit the commuters before they are all off to work. And they sit there day in and day out. Waiting for the commuters to come back. Selling their fruits and their vegetables. Bananas. Apples. Oranges. Mangoes. Tomatoes. Carrots. Potatoes. Whatever goes and grows in that region – and what they can find at the main market. Come rain or sun, floods to droughts. They sit there and sell their goods. And feed the people. And you want to feel sorry for them?

Don’t. Do not feel sorry for them. Think of Bill Gates when you see these women sitting there. Running their business. With a hundred competitors each side. Competing for the same small group of buyers. They run their business. But they also run Africa.

Celebrate them because they run their businesses with all those competitors on both sides. And hardly any schooling. And no business training. And they support an extended family. Feeding them and keeping them safe while the men are off somewhere else. Making war or making love. With another. And you want to feel sorry for them? What is there to be sorry about? These are strong women. Women with pride. Women with a business sense that Bill Gates could only dream of. They run a successful business with nothing but the sweat on their foreheads and strength of their souls and the heads on their shoulders. They don’t suffer. They don’t suffer fools.

No. Don’t feel sorry for them. They are the arms who cradle Africa. Feel sorry for the men of Africa. Feel sorry for the men of Africa because they don’t know what they are doing. Feel sorry for the men because they make the wars. And the women bury the dead. Feel sorry for the men who beat our women. And the women give birth to them. Feel sorry for the men who have no pride. And the women pick up the pieces behind them. Yes. The women of Africa clean up after the men. These men with no pride. These women of strength.

You know why the men of Africa are so weak? Because the women of Africa is so strong. The men see it in the eyes of the women. This strength. And they know they can never be that strong. And they do whatever they can to kill that light in their eyes. But you can’t. Not with African women. They are too strong. And that is what makes the men so weak and so scared. They can never roar like the women of Africa. Never. And they know it.

Yes. We men treat the women of Africa like second-class citizens. We treat them like that because we know we can never be that strong. We can never be the backbone of Africa. We can never give berth to a nation. We can never care for Africa the way the women do. We are not Africa. We can never be the women of Africa. That is why we call her Mama Africa. She is our soul and she is our life. She gives us life and she keeps us safe. Viva Mama Africa. Long Live the Women of Africa.

 

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I’ve been asked about my “anger” many times. What do you have to be “Angry” about? Why are you the “Angry African”? Why indeed…

I would rather have a good meal. Maybe help my wife prepare the food. Get the table ready. Talk about whether we should have brocolli or peas or carrots to go with the maple syrup chicken and roast potatoes she just made. That’s what I would rather do. Just have a good meal together with my family. Sitting at the table and laughing at the silliness of my daughters. Making funny noises and joking with their mother. Good times. Me, my family and a good meal. I would rather have a good meal. No need for anger here.

But how can I? How can I just have a meal when I know that somewhere out there in Zambia is a family arguing about how they divide the last of the nsima. Maybe this will be the last meal they share together. Because tomorrow brings no food and no hope. Maybe tomorrow the kids will have to go down to the charity handing out food and slip some away for ma and pa back home. But will grandma make it? Can she wait another 24 hours before she gets a little something to eat. No laughing or poking of fun. Not when the bones on their bodies are poking hard at their skin. How can there be no anger?

I would rather watch telly. Just vegetate and do nothing. Stare blankly at the screen. Flip channels because I can’t decide between CSI Miami or Kitchen Nightmares. Or maybe I should watch that Bond movie I taped? Or watch Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King again? Yeah. That’s what I want to do. Just stare at the telly and think of nothing. No anger here.

But how can I? How can I stare at the telly when tonight someone might be staring at the barrel of a gun somewhere in the Congo? No channels for them to watch. Maybe tonight will be the last time they see anything. I can change the channel but they can’t change their lives. I can play with the remote but they are here. Waiting for me to think of them. Always hiding somewhere in my conscious. Waiting to flip the channel of my brain to their station. No static. Just their lives waiting to be changed while they live a reality life. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather read a good book. Maybe just finish one of the many I am reading right now. Should I go with Mao and his killing or read about hope through the eyes of Obama? Maybe just get away from all that stuff and laugh at Bill Bryson telling me about A Short History of Nearly Everything. Aah. That what I want to do. Just read my book and let my mind slip away for a little bit. No anger here.

But how can I? How can I read a book when tomorrow the children will go and work those cocoa fields? The pages they flip are the pages of their life going past. One empty page after the other. Or maybe it is a horror. The horror of their lives. Living a Stephen King life larger than even he can imagine. But maybe some khat will help numb the pain. At least it will take away the glint in their eyes. And the empty pages of their life can be seen in their empty stares. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather play with my kids. Play outside like the crazy gang we are. Wild splashing we call swimming down at the lake. And go down that snowy hill when winter comes. Just me and my girls. Crazy, crazy, crazy. All I want is to hear their laughing and more laughing at their silly dad. Egging them on. Come on! You can do it girl! That’s what I would much rather want. Me and my crazy girls. Having fun. No anger here.

But how can I? When the other kids are running away from the warlord down the road. Playing dodgeball with the bullets. Not a sound of joy and belly laughs to be heard coming from their mouths. Just cries of pain as the bullets hit. Lucky if it misses. Dodge, dodge, dodge. That the games they play in the Congo. How can there be no anger?

I would must rather lie next to my wife. Falling asleep and hearing her breathe next to me. I can feel the stress of the day just slip away. Here is where I belong. Always telling her how much I love her. I can never say it too much or too often. And I run home because that is where I want to be. Just there next to her. My lovely wife. The one who gives me meaning. No anger here.

But how can I? When the women in Africa have to walk miles and miles just to get a drop of water for their homes. Every day. Down to the river and back. In the rush forgetting to boil it clean. And they see their families die around them. From a simple thing like drinking dirty water. How can I look at my wife and not see those women carry Africa on their backs being beaten and beaten and beaten. Day in and day out. Rape and murder. That’s what lies next to them at night. Death and destruction giving them meaning. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather just go on holiday. Maybe take a trip to Europe and visit those fancy French. Some cheese and red wine. Aah, that’s the life. Or laugh and point at Mickey and Minnie down at Disney. Maybe get away for just a week or two and visit my friend back home. Another trip to Bucks County would be nice. Just me and my three girls. Hanging out in New Hope for a drink and maybe a small piece of memory for the mantle. No anger here.

But how can I? When the only break my people get is another trade deal that fails. Or another empty promise for those dying of aids or malaria. Or the breaking of another leg as the torture continues in countries down South and East. But also here in the North and West. Broken promises to go with their broken lives. How can there be no anger?

I really just want to hang with my friends. Or drink a coffee by myself. Sip by sip. A braai and a good old fire. Learn to play the guitar like I’ve always wanted. Or write that bloody book that’s been bugging me for years. Save some money and retire early. Go for a drive in my car to watch the leaves go all rainbow in fall. The good things. That’s all I ever really want to do. Take it easy and stay easy. A smile, a laugh and good times.

I don’t want anger. I hate anger. It’s not nice. And it is not me.

Why am I angry?

I know happiness. I know what it is. I have it. Oh boy, do I have it. But I can’t enjoy it. At least not the way I want to enjoy it… Fully. I want to give myself totally to happiness. I want to live my happy days by throwing myself at it. Just living it 24/7.

That’s what pisses me off. That I can’t just enjoy life because of bigots. Because of liberty for some. Equality for those who can afford it. Freedom for those who were born free. Justice for those at the top.

I am angry because I can’t enjoy my life thanks to oppression of others. My right to have a fun time is shot to hell because of the rights of others being shot to hell. Bullet by bullet. Every warlord pisses me off because they remind me of what I am missing because of them. They are taking away my happiness because they are taking away the happiness of others.

I am angry because my friends and people I don’t even know can’t just love who they want. I love my wife. I love my wife. But the more I love her the more I am reminded of those who can’t love the way we love. That their love is somehow less meaningful than our love. I am pissed at bigots taking away happiness because they are taking away the rights of others.

I am pissed and angry for purely selfish reasons. I don’t want to fight for the rights of kids to have a shot at a life. I don’t want to fight for justice in the world trade and aid system. I don’t want to fight for the freedom of African women. I don’t want to fight for the equality of my gay friends who want to get married. I don’t want to fight for the liberty of the slaves working the sweatshops or farms in China or Africa. I don’t want to do all this crap. I want nothing to do with any of this.

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This.

I just want to sit back and enjoy my life. Just me, my girls and my friends. Happy times. Good times.

But I can’t. And that is what pisses me off. That is what makes me angry. That is what makes me the Angry African.

I can only go do nothing when there is nothing to be done. When others can afford to do nothing. When everyone has a shot. You bloody people. With your rights and freedoms and liberty and equality and justice. Just have it already.

Fuck. Dammit. And everything and anything else that go with that.

I am because we are. Ubuntu.

I can only stop caring about what to watch on telly when there is nothing to care about. I can only be happy watching my kids go crazy when you have a shot at happiness. I can only have the liberty to drink my coffee sip after slow sip when you have liberty. I can only have my braai in peace when you have peace. I can only be the equal of my wife when we all are equal. I can only have justice when you have justice.  My freedom is your freedom…

I can only be free when you are free.

I can only be me when you can be you.

Until then… I am the Angry African.

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Hahaaaa! (Dr Evil laugh fading.) My latest vic.. I mean… friend who offered to give me their good name to play with. Of course I will make sure I take their name carefully in my two hands… And then I will crush it! I mean, I will respect their wishes and not make fun of them… Yeah, right… Like that is gonna happen! Sorry Cordie from Looking In The Mirror, you asked for it. People, meet Johanna Ma Klein (Joanna Mother Small – Johanna pronounced as Yo-Ha-Na). Or rather the female version of John McClane – the guy from Die Hard (In my language it means The Heart). She is tough. And rough. You don’t mess with her. Not if you love your teeth. You want to know how tough she is? I’ll give you a few…

She’s so tough when she gets into a cab and the cab driver asks where she is going she says, “None of your bloody business!!!”

She’s so tough she wasn’t breast fed as a baby, she went straight onto cappuccinos.

She’s so tough that when she was a baby she pushed her own pram.

She’s so tough that she never needs to brush her teeth, she just lets the toothbrush tremble in her mouth.

She’s so tough that when she eats Smarties, she eats the red ones first. (Smarties = M&M’s.)

She’s so tough that her answering machine doesn’t answer to anyone except her.

She’s so tough that when she goes to the beach she kicks sand in her own face.

She’s so tough she’s into Punk Yoga… That’s when you stand on somebody else’s head.

She’s so tough Vitamins take her.

She’s tougher than an English steak.

And this is a true story of our Johanna…

Three Englishmen were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties. Terry had married a woman from America, and bragged that he had told his wife she was going to do all the dishes and house cleaning that needed to be done at their house. He said that it took a couple days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and the dishes were all washed and put away.

Jimmie had married a woman from Canada. He bragged that he had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. He told them that the first day he didn’t see any results, but the next day it was better. By the third day, his house was clean, the dishes were done, and he had a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married our South African girl Johanna. He boasted that he told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn’t see anything, the second day he didn’t see anything, but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye. Enough to fix himself a bite to eat, load the dishwasher, and call a landscaper.

That’s our Johanna. Tough as nails… But don’t just believe me. Believe the photo evidence…

You think Johanna is just standing there right? Looks like she is waiting for a bus right? Wrong. She is just standing because she wants to stand. In broad daylight. It might look like it is evening but it isn’t. It is daytime. Because even the sun is sh*t scared of Souf Efrikan women like Johanna. And that isn’t just a normal street light. Oh no. It’s one of those fancy electric mosquito gadgets. The light attract mosquitoesand then zaps them. And it doubles up as a tanning salon for Johanna. Just look at the pose. That’s the Johanna tan-under-the-neck pose. She’s also waiting for dinner. The mosquitoes in Souf Efrika is so big that we eat them like chicken. Fried.

Johanna lives in Domdonnersemansvallei (Menarestupidbecauseisaidosville.) Locally known as Shutyourpieholeville. Where woman are strong and men wear body armour.

Johanna doesn’t need a man to look after her. She doesn’t need a man to feed her. She looks after herself. And feeds herself. And here you can see her catching her dinner…

No, not fish. She catches trains for dinner. See those tracks behind her? That’s where she catches her prey… I mean food. Actually, this photo was taken from the last train a split second before she caught it. She’s got a neat trick. She acts as if she’s just fishing for some fish out on the sea to put the train at ease. And then when the train gets right behind her she swings that rod around and hooks the train. It’s stops dead in its tracks. She used to stop it with her bare hands but she got really annoyed when she kept on chipping her finger nails. So she just spun her own string from her chest hairs to hook and hold the train – The chest hairs of Souf Efrikan woman are stronger than gravity… And stronger than the will to live…

Souf Efrikan woman are also unbelievable entrepreneurs. And Johanna is the Bill Gates of them all. Or rather, Bill Gates is the Johanna of men worldwide. She can make anything into anything. Her latest business is “building” escalators. Well, she doesn’t really build them. She forced normal steps to turn themselves into escalators. By using her willpower. You can see it from this photo. She just grabs that railing and pulls herself and the steps higher up. And the steps starts moving all by themselves. And they dare not stop until she tells them to stop. That’s our Johanna… She turns steps into escalators. She once turned coal into diamonds by blowing it on it. And she gave Superman a wedgie…

Look, Johanna is so tough she believes that the only things that should be red are her toenails and the blood showing on her knuckles. Yeah, she is one tough cookie. She smokes Marlboro reds – Sort of. But she hated the red packets. It clashed with her ice-cool blue eyes. And her dress. So she made Marlboro make a special packet of her type of reds just for her. In blue. It is not sold over the counter. Because her smokes are banned in every country in this world. Even in smoke capitals like China, France and Russia. One whiff of her smokes can kill a bull from a 100 yards. They say that the Russians gave up the Eastern block when she sat on the Berlin Wall having a smoke. It has been declared a WMD in most countries. Even in North Korea. Dubya knows that she carries these WMD’s with her but he is too sh*t scared to do anything about it.

And that 2 finger salute? It’s saying, “Eim gonna get myshelf u man wif too balls enda kut dem out enda put dem in dese too plestik kups eye heve rite here”. (Accent included – I’m going to get myself a man with two balls and cut them out and put them in these two plastic cups I have right here.) Apparently, she is not into sweet talking much.

You ever wondered how tough Souf Efrikan woman “catch” a guy? This is how. You stalk them and then jump them from behind. Also known as a rugby tackle. This poor guy tried to run but no luck. When Johanna has her sights on a man… Okay, maybe sights isn’t the right word. She only uses that at what she calls the “breakup” – when she uses the telescope or “sight” on her gun. Let’s rather say that once she has her eye on a guy… No, wait. She only “eye” guys just before she hits them between the eyes. Mmm… When she wants to date a guy and not “take him out” in any other way than in a loving relationship, then she hunts him down the way a lion hunts her prey. And you know who wins that fight… Johanna has a much higher kill success rate than a lioness. But once she is in a “relationship”…

She is all loving. Hugs and kisses all around. Hum… Not to the guy! To her 6 cats and 2.3 dogs. The guy gets it Johanna style. You think this photo is all loving and stuff? Ha! Try again. She has him in her grip called the “Jaws of life”. There is no way of escaping from this. When Johanna’s hand locks over her palm like that nothing can break it. Unbreakable – Like a hyena’s jaw. You can try a crowbar. No luck. Not even a ton of dynamite will break that grip.

You want to know why she has him in this grip? Look at the clock. You see the time on it? Just past 12:15… No, not in the morning. In the afternoon. And he left at 12 to go and buy some milk and bread. He said he would be back by 12:15. Look at the time… And where is the milk and bread? Do you see any? DO YOU SEE ANY MISTA? Her head is tilted slightly back… Or drawn back. She is ready to give him a kiss. A Souf Efrikan kiss… A headbutt… On the bridge of his nose.

That’s our Johanna. She’s tough and rough. She’s a woman. She’s a Souf Efrikan. That’s a double whammy. Johanna, a Souf Efrikan woman. What did you expect?

Today started off like any other Friday. On the train to work, iPod playing and already in a weekend state of mind. Almost like having Georgia on your mind, but with more fun and no threat of the death penalty. Anyway… I was getting ready to get off at my stop when I noticed her.

She was right in front of me. I didn’t take much notice at first. I was adjusting my iPod earpieces. And then I saw it. The tag of her jersey was showing. It was on the outside of her jersey. It took me a while to figure out whether she had her jersey on inside out or whether it was just a fashion statement. I couldn’t see her face and had no idea how old she was. And I have seen some funny fashion statements in my time. I lived through the 80’s people. Wearing clothes inside out as a fashion statement would not surprise me one bit. But now I was in a bit of a dilemma. Do I tell her or not?

I should do it. Just tell her. If I am wrong – no problem. I will be slightly embarrassed, but she would be fine. I might even bring a smile to her face. You know – she would be thinking, “What a dork. He just isn’t in with the latest style.” I can live with that. And if I was right? I would save her from embarrassment. She might be slightly embarrassed and pissed at me, but at least she will be okay when she walks around town later in the day. She might actually thank me silently later on when she sits down and have a tall skinny non-fat strawberry mocha frappuccino with no whipped cream at 200 degrees and room on top. And a block of ice and one Splenda. Whateva! (And I snap my finger and whip my hair around while saying that.)

I was still thinking through my options when I saw it. I froze completely. Just stopped dead in my tracks. I panicked completely. I have heard of this, but have never actually seen one. The nightmare no woman wants to face. And no man wants to be responsible for. The horror. The horror.

A skirt was tucked into her knickers…

Her whole backside was showing. Or all that I could see from my quick glance was her complete left buttock and about half of her right cheek. And the little red hearts on her white undies. Not that I noticed. But she was completely unaware that she was caught in the pantie-butt-tuck. One thought flashed through my mind. And right after that I thought – what now? What the hell was I supposed to do now?

Do I go up to her and tell her? How? Do I just tap her on the shoulder like a friendly stranger and flash her my winning smile? Do I walk past her and look back nonchalant and tell her in my normal voice as if nothing happened? Or do I whisper in her hear like an old friend? And then what? What do I tell her? That her skirt is tucked into the top of her pantie? That her butt cheeks are showing? Or at least one of them is in full view? I had no problem telling her. I was just stumped about how I approach the subject and what I had to say.

So I just stood there. My brain frozen. I knew I had to say something. But this was a first for me. Something I was completely unprepared for. And she disappeared into the crowd while I stood there like a stupid ass. No pun intended.

No, really. I was a stupid ass. I should have reacted quicker. But I really wasn’t ready for this. Next time I will be. Please God don’t let there be a next one though. Because I still don’t know how I will approach her and what I will say.

Excuse me, mam?

Excuse me, mam?

I eventually started walking again jumped into the shop to buy some… hum… cigarettes… I mean… nice healthy water. To calm my nerves. But at least the “water” wasn’t in a plastic container. That’s just so environmentally unfriendly. But let’s just say that it could be true. Except that I think that water is for meant for coffee and plants. And maybe to make putu. And sometimes for a shower. But that’s about it. Anyway…. I digress.

I was standing in the line waiting for my turn to hand over the ransom pay. Just minding my own business. I looked over to the magazine rack and my eyes started to wondered to the top rack. The adult section. I really didn’t mean to look at them. It was merely for “research” purposes. I swear. Ek belowe. And then I looked a little bit closer at the cover of one of the magazines. It was a Playboy cover. And the woman on the cover had the oddest pose.

She was bending over like she was carrying an imaginary backpack, her legs were slightly apart but straight as if she just wet her pants, her ass pointing up like a Dodgem car, her hands hanging down towards the floor neanderthal style, and she had that weird look like she was slightly constipated (or just wet her pants) but was trying to hide it from the camera – you know, that smirky smile. But it wasn’t her look that made me laugh. It was her total pose. It looked as if she was about to pick up something really heavy. My immediate thought was “she better be careful as she might hurt her back picking something up that way”. She should really use her legs more and not use her back when lifting heavy objects.

And the magazine next to it had a woman pushing her… hum… front view towards the camera. Like she was going to wring-dry her top. Really. I didn’t see anymore covers as I had to look away. People were going to notice. Especially with me laughing out loud standing in a queue looking at porno magazine covers.

It made me think. What’s up with the porno pose? This can’t be nice for her or for the sad little man who gets some sort of satisfaction when he buys the magazine. or rather when he reads the magazine. You must be really odd to get any satisfaction from the act of buying only. Would that be seen as soliciting? Anyway… I am sure that he buys it for the great articles on cars/environment/economy/whatever. I mean really. It isn’t even remotely sexy or attractive. Even if you objectify women. Someone really needs to get a life.

So it leaves me with two questions.

Tell me. What should a man say to a woman if she is caught in a pantie-butt-tuck. I need to know that.

And also. What’s up with the porno pose? I just don’t get it.

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It’s just sick. Sick, sick, sick. Just last week I wrote how the women of this world are being raped and abused. How it happens each and every day. All over the world. By us men. Or people who would call themselves men. And now this. How sick can men get? How low can we go. We hit the bottom of the barrel and manage to go to a new low that is even more unimaginable. Yes, I am talking about the man from Austria.

I have been following this story since it “broke” late last week. I won’t go into details. That’s too hard. Follow the link above and search around a bit. But here’s the basics…

Elizabeth Fritzl was first raped and abused by her dad, Josef Fritzl, when she was 11 years old. And it continued from there. Regularly. Again. And again. And again. And Josef was planning and working on how to “institutionalize” this rape and abuse – while he was raping his daughter. So he build a dungeon in the basement. With soundproof rooms, electronic coded locks, no sunlight, a homemade kitchen, a makeshift toilet and a bedroom for rape and nightmares – 650 square feet of horror. Then he lured his daughter to the basement when she was 18 years old. And drugged and handcuffed her to subdue her. And kept her in the dungeon.

The rape and abuse got its own special place. A dungeon below the house. No one could hear the screams. No one could see the rape. And it went on and on. Rape after rape. For 24 years. Twenty-four years. 24 years.

You can read the rest. How he fathered 7 children with his raping of his daughter. How one died after a few days because of neglect. How he burned the body outside. How he forced his daughter to write letters saying she joined a sect. How he “adopted” a few of these kids. How some of them never saw daylight – ever. How his wife never knew about anything. How… how..

You fucking cowardly bastard, may you fucking rot in hell. I would kill him myself if I had a chance. I would torture him slowly so he could feel the pain for 24 fucking years.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? That’s what us men want to do. Take the bastards and kill them. Take our anger out on them. Tear them apart. Shoot them. Strangle them. Torture them. Kill them. Because it will make us feel better. Because we with our shallow emotions don’t know how to talk to our wives or girlfriends or girl friends or daughters. I am not blaming us. I am just saying how it is. We are raw in our emotions. But don’t know how to talk about it. We don’t know how to talk about it. And we don’t know how to prevent it. But I know it hurts men. Men who don’t rape. The silent majority.

We want to say something. But we don’t know how to start. Because we want to make things better. It is just so in our bones and blood – to fix things. And we think and hope and pray that we can fix this by taking it out on the rapists. By killing them. We hope and pray that by taking it out on them our women will somehow feel better. Will somehow feel whole again. Will somehow trust us again. And love us. And applaud us for showing how much we care. Will look at us in awe for showing our strength. Anything that will make us not talk about it. Sorry guys. It just won’t do.

I don’t know the answers. I don’t even know the bloody questions. But maybe we can start small. Maybe we can start by doing just one little thing to start off with. Let’s form M.A.R.S. – Men Against Rape Society. Yes, Men are from M.A.R.S.

But I am going to need your help here. I don’t know what the rules should be. I don’t know what we can do. All I know is that I don’t want to do nothing. So help me here. I don’t want to be quiet anymore.

Look, I am not looking for some weird groups of touchy-feely guys. I am no metrosexual. I am a sport loving, beer drinking, cigarette smoking, ball scratching kinda guy. I am not that “in touch” with my feelings. I am just a regular guy who says no more. I say fuck you rapists. You are not men. I will still strangle you if I get hold of you. That will make me feel better. But I also want to do something to stop it. Stop rape. And I want to do something to show the women of this world that we can be there for them. Somehow be someone they can rely on for support when they are raped. Whatever that means. An ear, a shoulder, a hug – whatever they need (on their terms) from us. So I have no strict rules on this. Anyone welcome. Let’s just follow a few basic rules we can abide by. Rules for M.A.R.S. I’ll give it a first go.

1. Real men don’t rape.

2. Real men don’t have friends who rape.

3. Real men speak out against rape.

4. Real men teach their sons not to rape but to respect and love.

5. Real men listen and talk to their wives and daughters about rape.

6. Real men support and talk to all women who have been raped – on their terms.

7. Real men don’t keep quiet any longer.

Okay, that’s a start. A bad one, but at least a start. Let’s fill in the gaps. Let’s try and narrow it down to just five rules for M.A.R.S. Or increase it to ten (I like the metric system!) Let’s tell our friends. Let’s tell our brothers. Let’s tell our sons. Let’s start a sign-up. (How, anyone got an idea?) Let’s start a movement. Women of the world – we will need you for this. Help us do something. Men, start acting. Tell me what we will need to do. Let’s throw a pebble and see what happens. But let’s not do nothing and say nothing.

Let’s be from M.A.R.S.

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I will lie. Yes I will. I will lie without blinking or thinking. I’ll lie with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. And I won’t cross my fingers. I’ll just lie and lie and lie. Through my teeth. To your face. Or any face. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I will steal. I will steal everything I can. I’ll do it without any guilt. I’ll steal from my boss or his wife. I’ll steal from the Pizza Hut down the road. I’ll rob a bank if I must. I’ll take the money from your wallet. I don’t care if you see. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I’ll sell drugs. I’ll sell coke, speed, crack – you name it. I’ll sell on the street corner or the school down the road. I’ll do it without a care in the world. I’ll do it in a flash and hand it out for free if I can. Hey, I’ll even use some myself if I must. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I will murder. Oh with such ease. I will pull the trigger or slit a throat. Or I’ll kill with my bare hands. Anyway you want me to do it. I’ll do it. No problem. And I won’t even sweat. I’ll just wipe the blood off my hands and carry on killing. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I will start a war. I’ll drop a bomb. No, I’ll drop many more. Just blow up anything I can. I won’t mind the blood in the streets. I can do it. I swear. I’ll start a war. Just give me half a chance. Give me a gun and an army and I will start the next world war. I will stop at nothing. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I’ll cheat on my wife. The one I love more than life. I’ll do it before you can say, “no, you won’t”. I will. I’ll sleep with anyone that comes along. And I’ll walk away with a smile on my face. Honestly I will. I’ll even tell her I did. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I will commit every sin you can think of. Break any Commandment in the Book. I’ll use God’s name. I’ll hate my neighbor. I’ll take the house from next door. I’ll break them all. One by one. I’ll sell my soul to devil. Or give it away for free if you must. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I’ll burn my beloved Africa. Burn it down to the ground. Every single inch. Every lion, zebra, buffalo, elephant and rhino. I’ll burn them like a barbecue. I’ll denounce South Africa. Country of my birth. And Madiba with it. See if I care. I don’t care. Because I will do anything.

I’ll do anything. And everything. I will do it. Just give me half a chance. I’ll do it. If it will stop the madness. If it will make it stop. Stop what happened to Miss Britt. And what happens to women and children each and every day. All over the world. I’ll do anything. Anything to stop the rape. Anything to stop the abuse. Anything to stop it. I’ll do anything to stop that. No matter what price I have to pay. Because I have a wife and two daughters. And they are my world. My everything. And I will do anything for them.

And I will do everything for the women of this world. Just so they don’t have to live in fear. Or have to look over their shoulder. Or wonder if this is the guy who will take their freedom away. Or have to remember what happened yesterday. Or try to block out the memories. I’ll do anything for a bounce in their walk and a wide open smile. I’ll do anything to let them be. Just be who they want to be.

Because I have a wife I love more than life. And two daughters who makes my world complete. They make me stronger than what I really am. I am a man because of them. And I will do anything for them.

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I take the train every day. Going in to work and going home. Me and my commute. Pretty lame. Same train in and same train out. Most mornings I get a seat and sit down and just listen to my iPod and go through my Bloglines. Some mornings it is packed. Just packed liked sardines. And this morning was one of those mornings.

I got a seat though – an aisle seat. It wasn’t that full when I got on. I opened my laptop and starting going through my morning routine. But the train filled up pretty quickly – more than the usual (damn Boston marathon). A few stops later an older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could take the middle seat. No problem. I got up and he shuffled in. Oh, he was a gentleman all right. He had a bow-tie on! On a Thursday morning people! Anyway, as I was about to sit down I saw her. This older lady standing next to me in the aisle.

There was no seat for her. All taken. So I closed my laptop and slipped it into my backpack. Looked at her and pointed to my seat. Mouthed, “please take this one”. (I still had my iPod on so couldn’t talk.) She looked somewhat bewildered. Not sure what I was doing. I paused the iPod and said, “Please take this seat“. She tried to argue and shook her head. But I wasn’t having any of it. I got out the way and moved sideways so that she had little choice but to take the seat. She looked at me while I closed my bag and flipped it on my back and was still looking at me when I straightened up. She smiled. It was a warm smile that said thank you in a million ways, but I could see in her face that she was still a little bit puzzled. Wondering what the hell I was doing. I smiled back and moved on.

I walked to the front of the carriage where I was planning on standing for the next twenty odd minutes. As I walked I realized that she had no clue why I did it. Why I got out of my seat. Why I smiled politely and asked her to take my seat. And she didn’t have a chance to hear my accent either – I hardly spoke. And she wouldn’t be able to hear it clearly over the noisy train in any case.

I got to my new standing room and looked around me. I was pretty much one of a handful of people standing. But we stopped at a few more places on the way to my station – Back Bay. And each time more people will get on and stand with me. And many of them were women. No one got up to offer their seat. No one. Not the young dude sitting on the seat next to where I stood. He was busy on his laptop and listening to his iPod. Not the youngish guy sitting next to him. He was busy eating his yogurt and muesli. Not the middle-aged man sitting on the seat behind them. He was reading the newspaper. Not a single one of them got up and offered their seat. And I wondered why.

Why don’t these men get up and offer their seats? Are they to selfish? Or are they just too involved in their reading or music or eating? Are they just too involved in themselves to notice? Are they so lost in themselves that they don’t realize there is a world around them? Are they so self-absorbed in their belief that they own the world that they don’t realize those who love them and gave berth to them are all arounf them? Are they so self-obsessed that they don’t notice they are not the centre of the universe? Don’t they notice the women around them?

Was I brought up wrong? My mother taught me to respect women. Not only in what she said, but in the way she brought me up. And the way she treated me and expected me to treat other people. Where did she go wrong? Am I wrong in getting up and offering (almost insisting) my seat to the older lady? Am I being sexist in getting up and letting a woman take my seat? Am I just being a stereotypical male in trying to be nice and respectful?

Some would argue yes. And so be it. I won’t try to convince them. But I won’t stop getting up. No I won’t. I will continue to offer my seat. I believe that men and women are equal. I have two daughters and fiercely proud of them. They can rule the world if they want. There is nothing they can’t do. There is no man better than them on this earth. Oh men would like to believe they are better. But they are not. They are just men. No better than women. The best they can hope is that they are not too far behind.

But me believing in equality doesn’t mean that I don’t think that men are different from women either. We are different. Just take off your clothes and have a look. You’ll notice a few things that stand out. Or not. Men and women are equals. But men and women are different. Note that we have two words to describe the two of us. But being different doesn’t mean we are not equal. We are. We just treat each other differently.

And I won’t stop doing it. I open the doors for women because it is my way of showing respect. I get up and offer my seat because I want to show them I do honor them. I offer them my place in the queue because I want them to know we are not all bastards.

Women are treated differently. And most of the time not in a good way. Want that job? Be prepared to be paid less. Be prepared to be overlooked for promotion. Want to get married? Be prepared to cook, clean, work and be the sex-kitten. Be prepared to change your name. And it is women who are beaten by their partners. And it is women who are raped. And it is men that kill their wives. And it is men that cheat. Oh don’t tell me it happens the other way around as well. I know that. But the difference? More men do it. Far too many men. And somehow those figures have made it more “acceptable” to expect it from men. The murders and the rapes and the cheating. Yes. We are equal. But different. In the way we treat each other.

And the men come home from work and slowly drain the soul of their wives. Listening, but never listening. There, but never being there. Never wondering what their wives did while they were at work. And what their wives lives have become. Never thinking whether the dreams of their wives might have involved more than just being their partner, cleaning the house, cooking the meal and bringing up the kids. Serving the men. Slowly suffocating. Women. Equal. But different.

So sorry if I open the door. Sorry if I offer my seat. Sorry if I smile. Sorry if I make way for you to go first. Sorry if I offer to hold your bag or push your trolley. Sorry if I do these things. I don’t mean to offend. I don’t mean in any way that you are less than me. I don’t want to insult you. It’s just my little way of saying sorry. Sorry that I am one of them. Sorry for what you have to face each day. Sorry for a life that isn’t fair. Sorry for the bastards that don’t even know they are doing it. But most of all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for putting up with us. Thank you for giving birth to us. Thank you for making us better than what we really are. Thanks you for being a women.

Equal. But different.

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