Last October, we hosted our first I Am Man Conference. I Am Man was a one-day conference focused on empowering boys and young men, of the Royal Bafokeng Nation. Conference participants explored what does it mean to be a man, within the context of Steve Biko’s words, “Black man, you are on your own.”
Our male Ambassadors all attended and invited several of their friends. Men from the community also participated as elders and shared their experiences growing up from a boy into a man.
IAWA partnered with Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T), a New Orleans based organization dedicated to inspiring and incentivizing more men of color to choose education as their career, to host the conference. BE2T traveled with seven of their fellows, college-aged young adults whom all but one it was their first time outside of the US. IAWA youth facilitators and BET2 fellows co-facilitated the sessions. Through this cross-cultural experience all of the men in attendance, young and old, saw they shared more similarities than differences growing up as black men whether in South Africa or America.
This open male only forum allowed the young men in attendance to truly open up and share some of the obstacles and challenges they were currently facing. They were able to see they were not alone and there were others around them they could turn to. We are excited about what is to come, and we look forward to hosting a similar conference for young women soon!