29 September 2022 Volume :10 Issue :45

UKZN Men of Virtue Celebrates Its First Year

UKZN Men of Virtue Celebrates Its First Year
Scenes from the signing of the UKZN Men of Virtue Pledge.

Saturday, 3 September 2022, saw UKZN - alongside Men of Virtue (MOV) and the Department of Student Residence Affairs (DSRA) - converge at the Student Union Building, Howard College campus, where male staff and students of the University took a pledge against gender-based violence (GBV).

First launched on 2 October 2021, the MOV-UKZN project comprises of men committed to the fight against GBV, femicide, gender inequality and homophobia. MOV focuses on the psycho-social education of young men in the context of gender and violence, in turn addressing issues around toxic masculinity. To ensure that the teachings of MOV are adopted and instilled from an early age, thus changing false perceptions of manhood, the institutionalisation of the programme in the elementary phase is key.

In attendance were students, staff from the Campus HIV and AIDS Support Unit (CHASU) and its Men’s Forum; DSRA Interim Director, Ms Sisana Machi; DSRA Head of Campus, Mr Nhlanhla Mthombeni; SRC members; Residence Assistants; Residence Life Officers; MOV executive members; MOV Project Founder and Student Development Practitioner, Ms Qhamo Gumede; Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Mosa Moshabela; Student Services Division Interim Executive Director, Professor Ntombifikile Mazibuko; SAPS Lieutenant Colonel Lucky Mdlalose; SGLD Manager, Mr Muzomuhle Mhlongo; UKZN Sport Manager, Mr Mark Bashe; Central SRC President, Mr Malusi Zuma; College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science DeputyVice-Chancellor and Head, Professor Albert Modi; and Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo.

Mr Thabani Chagi, programme director, commended Gumede for framing the project on morals.

Speaking about the initiative, MOV Chairperson, Mr Sanele Zuma said it is not designed to demonise men, but, amongst others, seeks to acknowledge those working to ensure the safety of women. Commending MOV for its work, he said GBV awareness programmes facilitated by the organisation within a space of two months have done a lot of work. ‘We are gathering as males of this Institution to not only make a commitment to women in our circles, but to ourselves. We will not be associated with any acts of violence or abuse. We want to extend MOV to all five UKZN campuses and see this pledge adopted in teaching and learning and it (the pledge) being taken by student leaders and staff members,’ he said, while also urging for the continued financial support of the project as ‘passion alone cannot sustain it’. 

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, Moshabela said GBV remains a problem in society and on our campuses. ‘For MOV to be successful, we need to find a way to heal from our past. I often say the 21st century is the century of women. We have to break the psychological traumas inflicted on our women from past generations to ensure that we protect them from experiencing that trauma again,’ he said, appealing to the men committing to the pledge to also commit to healing emotionally as this will assist in the fight against GBV. 

Mdlalose spoke about how GBV Desks and GBV Friendly Rooms at police stations provide a safe space for GBV survivors to report these incidences, as well as guidelines and training involved.

Speaking on her thoughts on the institutionalisation of the MOV movement at UKZN, Gumede said there has been voluntary participation from staff (mainly Professional) and students, especially on the Howard College, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses. ‘While the launch was a success last year, today’s pledge puts it beyond reasonable doubt that this paradigm shift has been one that is necessary. The institutionalisation of MOV is enjoying success and has recently gained momentum through build-up programmes towards today’s pledge in UKZN residences since its inception. We want to see all campuses taking the Pledge.

‘As for areas of improvement, the purpose of institutionalisation is permanence, homogeneity, conformity and determinism. These will be our focus areas for the upcoming years,’ she added.

After the pledge was taken, a pledge note was signed by Moshabela and Zuma to be enlarged and placed in the Administration Block on the Westville campus.

Words: Langelihle Mathe

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini

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