Digital Stories from South Africa
Thoko has had three kinds of father figures in her life: biological, surrogate, and grandfather. Her first was a physically abusive criminal; the second, a sexually abusive criminal; and the third, the only father figure who showed her respect and love. Now, as a gender activist, she is getting a chance to heal.
South Africa faces two interconnected epidemics -- violence against women, and HIV. Spurred by the need for a response to these public health emergencies, and recognizing the centrality of working with young and adult men to making progress, EngenderHealth initiated the Men As Partners® (MAP) Program in 1998. Since then, dozens of organizations have joined to form the MAP Network and now work together in communities across the country.
In July 2005, the Center for Digital Storytelling's Silence Speaks project traveled to South Africa to conduct two digital storytelling workshops with activists from EngenderHealth's MAP Network. Participants in Johannesburg and Cape Town wrote and recorded first-person narratives about their lives; chose photos, still images, video clips, and music to illustrate their stories; and learned to edit these materials into the short digital videos presented here. These digital stories are being shown in trainings and public community screenings throughout South Africa, to promote the MAP Network's efforts to involve men in ending gender-based violence and preventing HIV and AIDS.
The stories address various themes that are core issues in MAP's efforts to transform South African society. Namely, MAP works to reduce gender-based violence and the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS. The MAP Network works with individuals and institutions to challenge traditional norms of masculinity and assist men in recognising their role in addressing HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. The stories challenge myths and stereotypes about how men can act and be, showing that men can be transformed to build a more just, gender equitable and healthy society.