Byline: Kelebogile Masemola

08 June 2022

If you were hoping to read a book romanticising village life, single-parenting or the clichéd village boy makes good in the city trope, you will be disappointed.

Author of ‘A Journey from boyhood to manhood’, Kabelo Chabalala wrote about the honest reflection of life without a father, in poverty and being a black, young and rural in a world that seems to forget that South Africa has many faces and many voices crying out to be heard and listened to.

“I wish I knew that my father’s absence was the greatest expression of his presence in my life and I was never going to look for him in other men or wish I could live with him nor have him back in my life.

It was during my first year of pre-school, as a four-year-old boy, that I recall leaving a maroon and white shack in Pankop, Waterkloof section, where my father lived.

That shack is still there even today, with the same colours just worn out over the years, for most of my recollection, I can see myself leaving that place that housed me, but no memory of me returning to that house registers.

I have never even asked my mother why we left but a big part of me is happy that I have no recollections of the reasons why we left because such unpleasant occurrences can damage someone forever,” said Chabalala.

Chabalala said his concerns about the next generation of boys and men inspired him to write the book.

“My worry about the next generation of boys and men inspired me to write the book, furthermore, I wanted to remind the single mothers that it is possible to raise their children well, especially boys alone.

There are two chapters that talk about my father and his absence, those were the most difficult chapters to write and yet so therapeutic,” said Chabalala.

He said he hopes to see his book reaching more young boys and men.

“As a young man who mentors boys, my hope is to see this book reaching more young boys and men.

In that case, the story itself might help us fight teenage pregnancy, toxic masculinity and help us nurture healthier masculinity and a generation of happy and progressive boys and men,” he said.

In the end, the book serves to invite everyone to appreciate the complexities in what is otherwise an ordinary life.

It may on the surface, be about fatherlessness and hopelessness but is equally about motherliness and sonship and extended family.

Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and senior mentor at the Young Men Movement (YMM), an organisation that focuses on the reconstruction of the socialisation of boys, to create a new cohort of men in our society across the globe.

He is also a columnist for a daily newspaper, a feminist at heart, a PR specialist, writer and journalist by profession.

A journey from boyhood to manhood is self-published and printed and bound by Inspired Publishing.

It costs R270, email or WhatsApp: 072 371 6266 for your copy.