Published: June 15, 2012, 12:00 am
For Bongani Mtshali, nothing is more important than his family – a group that includes not only his wife and five children, but also his broader community.
A local teacher in Nkandla, KwaZulu Natal, Bongani Mtshali hails from challenging circumstances. His parents divorced when he was young and he found himself on his own, struggling to find food and odd jobs. In reaction to his rough upbringing, Bongani has adopted a generous manner as he hates to see people suffer. He is known for offering advice and assisting the young and old in his community, and providing support to destitute families, especially during times of bereavement.
Bongani’s contributions to the community have not gone unnoticed; he received the ultimate accolade when he was nominated as a South Africa “Man of the Year” by the Brothers for Life campaign.
An initiative of Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA), in collaboration with the South African National AIDS Council, Department of Health, USAID/PEPFAR, Sonke Gender Justice, the UN system in South Africa and over 100 civil society partners, the Brothers for Life campaign targets men age 30 and over in South Africa with messages about HIV prevention, gender-based violence and health seeking behaviors.
This modest “Man of the Year” describes a good father as someone who spends time with his children and sets a good example. He also believes a father’s responsibility goes beyond immediate needs. Bongani says, “A father has a burden of giving historical background to younger generations, for the good behaviour we inherited from our forefathers is a shield to safeguard them.”
Bongani’s family and his broader community are fortunate to have a father like him in their lives!