Why I joined Brothers for Life
This 31 year-old man from Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, is a changed man and recently took to the stage at the Brothers for Life roadshow where he spoke openly about the events that led to his crime.
Banda first learnt of Brothers for Life while he was in prison and instantly knew he wanted to join the movement. Brothers for Life is a national men’s health and social movement which seeks to mobilise all South African men to take responsibility for their own health, oppose violence and lead positive lives.
“I grew up having ambitions and still believe that I can do it even after my life almost came to a standstill,” said Banda, who was recently released having served three and half years in prison.
During his prison term he participated in the Brothers for Life programme designed to help men in prison to come out and lead meaningful lives. When he talks about his crime, close to tears, it is clear that he deeply regrets his actions. He had seen his mother being abused by her lover and one evening received a call that things were getting worse.
He and his two cousins immediately rushed the kilometre to his mother’s house to find that her lover had beaten her.
“Upon arrival, mommy was helpless and one could see that she was tired of the beatings. We tried to speak to the guy but he also wanted to fight with us. Then we beat him up, and he died.”
Banda and his cousins were arrested the following day. He spent two years in prison before his trial and finally got sentenced for three and half years.
“I learnt a lot when I was in prison and regret my actions that led to the killing of that man. I feel that I could have handled the situation differently.”
Banda joined the Brothers for Life movement and participated in the programme for the duration of sentence, preparing him for a different life upon release. Since then he has never looked back.
“It was not easy at first but I had to accept that I committed a crime and became involved in many programmes offered in prison. However, I fell in love with the Brothers for Life programme and learnt a lot on what it is to be a man and how can one deal with issues of HIV, sex, violence and relationships.”
Since his release from prison, Banda has been thinking big about how he can use his life story to help other men to become better people. Married with two children, he is an active member of a men’s forum AKA Sosha, designed to address a wide range of issues including marital problems and men’s health. Some of his duties include talking with others about the importance of relationships with loved ones and people you interact with daily.
“There are too many men who think that problems are better solved by violence. It is after having spent time in prison that one needs to think differently when confronted by issues.”
One of his Brothers for Life coaches while in prison is upbeat about Banda’s involvement in men’s forum and believes that he is the right man to speak with men in his community around issues of HIV, relationships, sex and violence.
many is not easy to adjust like that and lead positive lives,” says Edward Mutale, one of the Brothers For Life prison coordinator.
Apart from his involvement with men’s forum and Brothers for Life, Banda is determined to do what he has always wanted to do – run his own computing business. He is working around the clock to start an internet cafe where he aims to help young people in his community with typing of their school work and CVs, and give them access to computer games.
“I’m grateful of the Brothers for Life campaign which changed my life forever. Their programme has made me think positive about life ahead and that of my family.”
About Brothers for Life
Brothers for Life promote positive male norms and encourage the uptake of health services such as Medical Male Circumcision (MMC), Men taking up HIV Testing, Consistent condom use by Men and reduction of sexual partners. The campaign mobilises men to actively engage in activities to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in their communities.