Does Port Elizabeth Still Have Real Men?

It’s around 22:00pm on a very windy Sunday night. After much attempt of fight our cravings, my housemate and I decide to take a quick stroll to the KiwkSpar down the street to purchase a packet of Simba chips to satisfy our devious cravings. We get to the snacks isle at KwikSpar and start wondrously browsing around for our favourite packet of chips. While my housemate goes ahead contemplating on which packet of potato chips to choose from, an argument erupts from the far end of the isle. At first I think it’s just a typical argument between two lovers, but then I begin to hear the male’s voice fiercely escalating. It escalates so much that even the lady working in the kitchen at the very far end of the store throws her eyes upon the couple. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the male throws a fast and fearsome slap upon his girlfriend. He attempts to throw another one, but his girlfriend fortunately ducks out of the way; missing her face with his hand whistling through her uncombed hair.


“Hayi! Hayi! No! No! Why you hitting her? Why are you hitting her?” screams one woman working at the counter who had been patiently waiting for such a build-up, after she too had heard the escalating commotion. This soon turns into serious pandemonium with a little crowd building up near the couple. Some trying to stop the fight –and others insisting it should carry on. “Ewe! Ewe! Teach her a lesson! She must never fuck with you again!” an old man erupts from an isle below us. With all these old men in the store, not one was man enough in attempting to spot the man from hitting his girlfriend. My housemate and I are originally from East London. So we were taught in our adolescence to let the older men intervene in such situations. Only if they aren’t any old men around, then you as the young man/men should intervene.


I was astonished by all that I had witnessed at that very moment. What kind of man feels pride and joy from another man hitting women, let alone the mother of his child in front of his son! With this story still fresh on my mind, I begin to question the initial introduction of manhood in this beloved town of Port Elizabeth. For months now I’ve seen Amakrwala (Young Xhosa men who’ve recently graduated from circumcision school) walk around Port Elizabeth with the inappropriate standard dress code for Amakrwala. This automatically shows that one is certainly not showing any respect for the cultural Xhosa values. What’s even more astonishing is that the old Xhosa men see these young men and not lecture them in the misdeed they seem to be showing the Xhosa culture. I’m sorry to say but it all starts there. The initial grips of being a profound Xhosa man starts after having excelled in all the respected challenges in the introduction of manhood, not when you’ve passed the stage of leaving the bhoma (an undergraduate Xhosa man’s house in the bush).


My mother used to constantly say that habits, whether good or bad, would always start small then soon grow into a religious or an everyday act. I see this with the Xhosa man around Port Elizabeth. I’m not saying that they’re incompetent of being men, but the way they handling certain situation and treat woman really astonishes me. Yes I suppose that’s life in saying that everyone is different –but with the amount of Xhosa men I’ve seen in Port Elizabeth (who are originally in Port Elizabeth) not conducting themselves like the men they should be –I honestly fear for the future of this beautiful city.

Picture Source: 

-Mandilulame Manjezi