Chabasereng Manka -Mashaleng Council COE

Chabasereng Manka -Mashaleng Council COE

Date: July 1, 2015
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I am a Mosotho man over 60 years old, and I am the chairperson of the council. Before joining politics I was a farmer, and I spent most of my time at my gardens. But my whole life I was working at the mines in South Africa, and therefore I did not have an idea of what was happening in the country, like new laws. I would just spend something like six months at work, and when I came home I would just spend time at home with my family.

When my work was done at the mines and I had to come back home, it was very difficult. I used to work, and as a Mosotho man, I had always known a man as the head of the family. I would treat my wife just like my kids, because she would not make any decision without me. She would not even try to suggest anything; she had to wait for me and consult me. Sometimes, I would take a long time before I came home, and at some stage she would want to do some thing for the family, like selling a cow so that she could pay our kid’s school fees. I would be away and school fees were needed, but it would be very difficult for her. I would not even let her finish what she was saying, but I would tell her straight away that she was not in a position to say anything to me, as she was a child.

It was very difficult for her and our kids; sometimes I would find my children expelled from school because they owed money. So for me at this age to make peace with these issues was very difficult, because I was raised as the head of the house, knowing that I should make decisions for my partner.

In 2011 I decided to participate in the local government elections, and luckily I won and I became a councillor at the Mashaleng council. I was just a typical Mosotho man who believes in my culture and did not want anything interfering with it.

As we settled in the office and I was elected as chairperson of the council, it was totally a new job for me and Gender Links was there to propose that we work together with them concerning gender issues.

I cannot deny that at first, I did not even want to hear about it, and was very reluctant to work with them. Since I was the chairperson, I had to make a decision, and finally I decided that we gave them a chance. I have never regretted working with Gender Links since the first time we met.

Their first workshop was about key gender concepts, gender and governance, conflict resolution and many other important issues. Because it was a four day workshop, they started from the beginning, where a young boy and girl were born. That’s when I realized that women are also part of us as men and very important. The workshop was very important to me as a very traditional Mosotho man, and from that day I changed my lifestyle.

I went to several public gatherings as to talk about gender, and people listened to me. They knew that I was a very difficult person, but gave me a chance; now people practice these issues in their families. Gender Links changed my life as an individual and as a leader. Now I am in a position to put my partner first in any decision I make in the family. Even here in the council, when we take any kind of the decisions, we discuss all the issues with both men and women in the council, and they are part of us. It has been an amazing journey with Gender Links, and I just wish they will be able to pass this important message to every Mosotho man and woman.

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