If not me then who? 

I asked why me and the answer was swift…If not you then who? 

My wounds are deep but my heart still beats
If not you then who? 

Am I losing the last few strands of sanity my feeble hands have desperately been holding on to?

If not me then who?

What happened to gratitude? Food on my plate, clothes on my back, a ceiling for shelter… I think I crave the light of blazing stars. A light that generates a glimpse of hope at the end of the dark tunnel called life…

If not me then who?

I am bitter,sore and cold. Stripped of my pride by the unintentional deadly grip of even colder hands… 

If not me then who? 

The child that was molested, or the mouth that has never tasted bread? The woman beaten, the man tormented for what he has no power to change? The race that continues to be oppressed, the womb that is cursed? 

Wait… Pain chooses not its intensity. It hurts, it hurts deeply. But if not I then who? 

God, I believe in you, but never have I felt so far away from you. The chills feel as though evil found a small crack in the partitions of your hand, found me, grabbed me, rooted its claws of sorrow and now won’t let go of my bleeding throat. I cant breathe Lord…
If not me then who? 

I cried till my tear asked me to stop. They had seen enough of the ground. And after a long while, I managed lifted my eyes to a once familiar place. 
I asked once more,why me? The answer was swift; 

If not you then who? 

Who would know the hurt of her people so that kindness could be made manifest in her?                      Who is yet to realize the enormity of her strength?                                         Who will carry a new generation and deliver a breed with a difference…    See, you are allowed to hurt, but never wallow for too long. You are allowed to feel as humans do. 

That question may never leave you, and neither will the scars be invisible to you, but let the answer be clear;

How can you be a better you if not you… 
  

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Chris Kairinos – Asaman 

Chris Kairinos meets with the Asaman group. A trader in Oil and Gold. This is what this 30 year old young man had to share 

  Could you tell us a bit about your childhood, where you grew up and your family

Typical Cypriot boy born in Benoni. I have 2 sisters and 1 brother. I am the youngest. My brother and eldest sister are half siblings, same father different mother. My mother and father divorced when I was 3-4 years old and I moved in with my mother and my younger sister to Edenvale where we were raised. My mother worked two jobs and my sister and I spent much time at home with our maid and with aunts and cousins. My father and eldest sister and brother emigrated to Cyprus when I was young so I often travelled to Cyprus to visit. My mother insisted on keeping close relationships with the whole family. I went to Edenglen primary and then moved to SAHETI for high school as my mother wanted to instill our Greek heritage as much as possible.

 Who were your male role models growing up and who do you still look up to today? And why? 

 My mother, the hardest worker I know to this day. She taught me that to be smart is one thing but without a strong work ethic to back intelligence you are nothing. She also taught me to be honest, humble and polite at all times. My uncle George. He has been a successful director at SasolChevron and an inspiration to the family. I draw much from his character when making decisions on work and family situations.

How would you define manhood? 

I suppose it is the coming of age  from being a boy to becoming a man. As a man you are often looked at to take the forefront in many family decisions and also in other social situations. This can be viewed as stereotypical but is very common in most cultures today. Manhood can also be looked at simply the transition of young and naïve to older and wise. Being able to take on responsibility and to make well thought out decisions.

Do you feel or think various cultural upbringings help shape the kind of man one becomes and is it always a positive thing? Please expand on this view

 Cultural upbringing certainly has an effect on how a boy’s thoughts are moulded as they mature. Sometimes it is taught that girls can only do certain things and guys other things, or more commonly that a boy has more responsibility than a girl within the family. You can agree to some extent that women can do some things better than men and vice versa, but it is never a question of importance or respect being based purely on sex. These traits most likely vary from culture to culture. Being Greek I can say that women are taught from a young age to assist with what is commonly associated with womanly functions. Cooking, cleaning, caring for father and brother and later husband etc. But they are too motivated to become successful in the fields they would like to pursue. Whether it be a doctor, engineer, banker, actress chef etc.

So yes, culture does have an impact on what type of a man is produced, not always positive but from my experiences within my own culture I can say it has been positive.

 What do you do on a professional level and are you fulfilled by your work? 

Commodities trader. I am fulfilled. I am challenged daily and very often need to learn more to overcome the challenges. I am responsible for my actions and need to face the consequences when I make the wrong decision and most definitely need to provide logical explanations for my behaviour.

 Do you wish to have children some day and what values would you wish to instill in them

Perhaps. I fear my choice is heavily influenced by the fact that the world already has too many people in it and despite my best efforts my children will be exposed to too much bad as a result. People have to increasingly fight for less available resources, I worry that they will never get to see the world like I did as a child.

 Please share some of your interests outside of the work space 

Friends and family are first on the list. Down time with those few that you care for really is chicken soup for the soul. Reading books that have nothing to do with my line of work and enjoying good movies. Currently enjoying navy based movies, fascinating to see what people at war put themselves through for their country.

Do you think friendship is a medium that can be used to engage on a positive level between men? Do you have any such friends and how do you help in each others progress/growth 

 I have had the same friends since high school, I am now 30 so that is quite a long time. Friends that you keep for a long time are sometimes more than family, they simply understand you better and don’t expect a certain behaviour from you. My network of friends is equivalent to a net, when one falls the net is there to catch them.

How was the experience of taking part in the Asaman campaign? 

It was interesting. I think to give some context as to who the campaign is aimed to help would be great and how it will be delivered to the targeted audience. Also would be good to see if it did help in anyway.



South Africa is blessed with diverse cultures and creeds. Each one possess value systems that promote good levels of morality. Asaman is happy to explore and share the lessons found in embracing our differences. 

  Asaman, strive to be strong and confident as your mind and body permits 

Photography by Aaron & Hur 

I can not hear you 

If Only I could speak a little louder… But the screams of my sorrow strapped heart have made me deaf. Deaf to reason, deaf to the repeated knocking of pity. Dearest pity, you would have found the door open had you been invited, but I am displeased with he that sent you more than I could ever be displeased with your presence; So I cannot hear you. I am only deaf on one side. The side that openly displayed its vacuum funnel and happily slurped up buckets of nonsense. 

Nonsense is deafening. It seeps into the veins that mark the crossroads between your ear and your mind and slowly begins to destroy the contents of human matter in mental avenues.  It invites friends such as doubt and ignorance. Together they destroy the sense of the senses that is necessary to practice common sense. Left senseless; deaf!

If only I could speak at all. But deaf tongues are handicap. If I fail to to reason with me, who but pity can stand the sight of me.

I still have my eyes, eyes that see. The sting that found my ear has not found my vision. And at the sight of you, my eyes, speak. 

I see you just as clearly as I see reason. 

But…

I can not hear you 

Do I then miss the pleasures spewed by the birds at the merciless hand of your nonsensical tongue and hands; Do I leave this ear to explore the whispers of fickle minds? 

How do I filter the utterly disturbing utterances from that which ears where born to hear? 

I don’t

I can not hear you 

   

Tshepo ‘Crocky’ Modiri  – Asaman 

The Asaman campaign seeks to inspire, create mentorship opportunities, and create a safe and constructive space to engage, for the younger generation. Asaman sits down with 21 year old Tshepo ‘Crocky’ Modiri, a BSc student, social activist & vocalist, to gain insight on the thoughts of the younger, upcoming generation of men.  

Who is the one man, whether you have met or not, that you find inspires you most? And how?


Jesus Christ. There are many reasons why Jesus inspires me. His ideologies, how he related with other people etc. But, the one reason He really inspires me was His perseverance. We live in a world where it is extremely difficult to be who you really are and to say what you really want say. Jesus was ostracized for His views, and how He kept true to Himself amongst so many adversities is the one thing that stuck with me the most from His story, and it is the one I try apply in my life.


Authenticity. Honesty.

Do you believe guys in your age group consider good value systems as something to consider in their daily living? Why or why not? 


I think definitely yes. I think the reason it sometimes does not seem that way is due to the fact that most guys in my age group are at a stage in their life where they are still finding and creating their value systems. Early twenties are the years in which you find and settle into yourself, that includes choosing the value systems you want to live by, and applying them to your daily living
.

What are you currently studying and are you happy with your choice or do you have different prospects? 


I am currently studying a Bachelors in Science degree. I would say I am happy, but having said that I definitely do not think that this is where my passions lie. I’m yet to know for sure where my passions lie, but I am excited to find out. Right now I am going through the motions, learning and making the most of every opportunity awarded to me.

Do you ever feel pressured to behave a certain way or make certain decision in an attempt to become what someone else believes is a ‘man’ and how?


Yes, everyday. This, in my opinion speaks to a bigger societal problem and that is the problem of socially pressured gender roles/stereotypes. Too often have men been told that they should not show vulnerability, that they shouldn’t cry etc, and this type of thinking can lead to a lot
of internal distraught. This thinking is dangerous as it presents a blanket definition for manhood and any deviation towards self actualisation is stigmatised. Men need to recognise this problem, and consciously tell themselves that they are the masters of their manhood. They decide what what they manhood means to them, that way they shall lead fulfilling lives.

You are very passionate about music,why is this? 


I grew up in a very musical family. All the members in my family sing, two even play musical instruments, so music is something that’s always been in my life,and I think that’s where it comes from. Also one thing I love about music is that it brings people together, irregardless of background, culture and race.

Your social media page seems to suggest that you are very up to date in terms of modern trends. Is this something you actually pay attention to, and why or why not?  


I think yes it is something I pay attention to. I pride myself in being a global citizen. I enjoy knowing what’s happening around me as I do not think its healthy to live in an isolated bubble, as you don’t grow as much if you do. That by the way does not mean I subscribe to all the trends out there, it simply means that I am aware
of them.

What are your thoughts on girls, women and the notion of marriage?


As a Christian, I fully support the notion of marriage as this is something my religion has taught me, but even outside of Christianity I believe its a beautiful thing to have a life partner. This life is not an easy one, and having someone with you through all the difficult and pleasan
t motions is lovely, and it is the type of bond that would be difficult to find elsewhere. I really do believe that modern day marriages can last. Having said that, it isn’t easy… relationships are hard work.

The men you see around you today, do you feel they are doing enough to inspire you to be a better person? 


Yes, they do. I purposefully surround myself and stay in contact with people, in this case men, that I can learn from as I feel that this is what friendships and relationships should be about. Seeing the men in my life chase their dreams inspires me to do the same
.

Do you think the Asaman campaign will achieve the desired effect of inspiring men both old and young now that you have taken part and know what it is about?


Yes I do. Mainly because this type of discourse on masculinity and manhood is one that does not happ
en enough, and many men, young and old, rely on gender stereotypes for guidance on their manhood. Many men will read these stories, and have the courage to narrate their own.

What is the one perception people have of you that you are uncomfortable with?


One perception that I’m uncomfortable with would be some people thinking that I am quite arrogant. Think the reason for this misperception is that I generally am shy and introverted in nature, and because of this I tend to keep to myself, this behaviour then gets misinterpreted. Oh well 🙂

I had an interesting conversation with Tshepo that inspired my last question. Perceptions. A lot of ideas and behaviours are influenced by perceptions. Unfortunately, one’s perception may not always be true or even come close to the reality of what or whom they are observing. I now hope that Asaman helps break down this system of perception and allows men and woman to engage openly and honestly thus truly learning from each other. 

 It is important to remain humble and modest. Remember though, humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s simply thinking of yourself less. 

Photography by Aaron & Hur  

Ofentse Modiri – Asaman 

Asaman sits down with 27 year old entrepreneur and music enthusiast Ofentse Modiri.  

What do you believe defines manhood? 

 That’s a deep question, a question that’s subject to opinion informed by many things. Il try give my view on the matter. A man must at times be hard as nails: willing to face up to the truth about himself, and about the woman he loves, refusing to compromise when compromising is wrong. A man must provide for he’s family and love his wife as Christ loves the church. A man must be strong yet tender, he must be able to discern which battles to fight and which to let Go. Most importantly Manhood is about leading by example by Fearing God and respecting all man. For me these are what Manhood is about to me.

 What do you do on a professional level and are you fulfilled in that particular field? 

I’m a civil and construction contractor mainly. I run a small but growing company in this very exciting sector and loving every minute of it. I feel very fulfilled in what I do, it’s a sector that embraces change and is ever growing. I know I’m in the right place and will continue to grow and learn.

Who are your male role models and how have they impacted your life? 

My father has to be the first up there. Bg Modiri has been a big role model and influence on me and many other young men. From a very young age he not only kept telling me but showed me that there is no limit in what one can achieve. He’s achievements alone as a father,entrepreneur and a preacher man were and continue to bear testimony to that.

“Attitude and not Aptitude will determine your Altitude” ” Your busy becoming what you will become ” are but just a few murmurings he’d always remind me of and helped me build the character I boast today as a young man.

Mr Sizwe Kweyama and Mr Ralph Nkomo, are the other two gentlemen I look up to. As a young boy or man there are those silent role models you can relate to from a distance. In short these gentlemen taught me determination is key, taught me how to embrace my weaknesses and accepting them in turn nullifying them as weaknesses. Through their ambitions and aspirations respectively showed me it’s possible to punch above your weight and go for whatever it is your heart desires.

What are your thoughts on in regards to how women are commonly objectified?  

I think objectifying is a problem both genders face to some degree, yes it can be more so in the context of woman. My stance is simple, it’s wrong period. I do however feel that as much men need to adjust their outlook on the matter and realize there’s more to woman than mere objects, I feel woman collectively can and should take active steps to impose and express their independence.

As a man who has recently committed to start a family, what values do you believe a man should possess within a home to make it a home of substance? 

As a man about to start a family there are a few things I intend to be the corner stones in our marriage. Love, Respect, Fear of God, Honesty and companionship. These are the values I want to impart as a man, as a husband and one day as a father. I hope to be decisive and lead by example.

Why do you prefer being addressed as a entrepreneur instead of a businessman?

The reason I prefer to be addressed as an entrepreneur instead of a businessmen is because fundamentally these are different and I boast entrepreneurial characteristics over that of a business man.

Fundamentally A businessman can make a business out of an unoriginal business or product idea. He enters into existing businesses, such as franchising and retailing. He chooses a hot and profitable business idea regardless of whether it is his original idea or borrowed from someone else.

A businessman defines success as the success of his business and its stakeholders. Its stakeholders include himself, co-owners, employees, customers, investors, and even his community. An entrepreneur doesn’t define success. He simply do his job and let history defines the success that he accomplished. Remember that this list is only according to my own opinion, and I don’t mean to put one of them on top of the other. Both businessmen and entrepreneurs are supposed to be the kind of people that our world needs. A businessman needs an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur may also need a businessman. There can also be a person who is partly a businessman and partly an entrepreneur.

Do you think businesses do enough in terms of social development projects, and what could they do better to make this process a tangible one? 

I honestly think that businesses do take their social responsibilities very seriously and have very adequate social development programs in place. In South Africa opportunity as a young ambitious somebody opportunities are plentiful in this sector. I think the disconnect is perhaps in educating people on these opportunities rather than there being a lack of them. As a young black man I bear first hand testimony to this, determination and perseverance have no substitutes. Be diligent as a young man and rest will fall into place, take my word for it.

The word ‘musician’ is loosely used quite often. As a person who enjoys music and performs as well, what are your thoughts on the above mentioned? 

Yes it’s true that the term Musician is over used and abused. As a scholar of music and a serious lover and appreciator of music I’ve come to realize that there is no regulatory measure in music and arts in general as opposed to corporate or business perhaps. This Is why people feel their entitled to call themselves musicians after learning 3chords on the guitar. It’s really not for me to say if it’s wrong or right however I do feel that if we are to cultivate the quality we aspire we need to respect the art of music and be more focused on learning the Art of music. I feel if we respect the art as maybe we do the medical field the term musician will be as carefully carefully used as “Doctor” perhaps, intern cultivating excellence in this beautiful art we love dearly.

What is integrity to you? 

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.

Bob Marley

That’s what integrity is to me.

  May I never forget, on my best day that I need God as desperately as I did on my worst day 

Photography by Aaron & Hur