Conversation with Khaya Dlanga

Q:What do you do for a living?

A: I feed my soul. I do things that make me feel happy and glad while I do them. Sometimes I don’t have that feeling, but I know that the feeling won’t last long because whatever I do is part of who I am. Currently I am responsible for advertising and strategy for what you know as the world’s most famous brand. It’s known and recognised by 97% of the World’s population.

Q:What is like to be a man in the modern day South Africa?

A: I don’t know what it was like before, so I don’t have context but from history. I think that it has its challenges. I imagine a lot of us are in a race to be seen to be doing something with our lives. The race to make money because it is really how many measure their success, it is how they believe society measures them. If you don’t have a house, you don’t have a car, you don’t have this, you don’t have this, somehow you are not seen as man enough. Yet there are many other things that make a man besides what they can afford. I think that it’s important to be a man who can stand up for what he believes, to be someone who who adds value to his fellow man. Money is not the only thing. It’s the pressure to be someone because of money. Not to be someone because of who one is a person. We have gone from one extrem to another. Yet we need to make money in order to control the destiny and wealth of this country but we should not leave our huminity behind in the process.

Perhaps we have fallen into the trap George Soros spoke of when he said, “Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value. What is more expensive is considered better. The value of a work of art can be judged by the price it fetches. People deserve respect and admirations because they are rich. What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values, reversing the relationship postulated by economic theory. What used to be professions have turned into businesses. The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor.”

Or as Mbeki said, “Thus, everyday, and during every hour of our time beyond sleep, the demons embedded in our society, that stalk us at every minute, seem always to beckon each one of us towards a realizable dream and nightmare. With every passing second, they advise, with rhythmic and hypnotic regularity – get rich! get rich! get rich!”

Q: Do you know what Feminism is about and do you think everyone else knows what it actually means?

A: Simply put, it is about equality and the destruction of all notions that perpetuate the patriarchal structures across all society. It is the true liberation of women, not just on a piece of paper from the constitution, but the complete eradication of all that is designed to make women second class citizens. It’s as simple as cat calling as a woman walks past. The idea that because a man is physically stronger, he can get away with what he wants. If we could paraphrase what Mandela said on the dock, we should probably adapt his statement for today, “I have fought against male domination. I have fought against female domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Are we as a society truly willing to make this happen? Sexism is endemic in our society, and many of us, myself included, are so blind to it that when we engage in it we are not even conscious, nor willing to acknowledge that is what we are doing.

Q: You have a new book out “To Quote Myself”, what is the book about and why publishing?

A: It a book about my life story. When the publisher asked me to write a book about my life, I refused for the longest time because, as I kept saying to them, I haven’t done anything that’s world changing or earth shattering. It seemed presumptuous. They told me that is precisely the reason I should write one because there are many people who have same story I have but don’t know there are many of us with story. I also see it for me, as a record of certain point in time in the history of South Africa. It takes uf from the end of apartheid, going to a white school, then working in white South Africa even though the country consists of everyone. It covers my rural upbringing, to living township life to suburb life.

Q: What is your relationship with women?

I think that it’s great. I grew up with women, so I am very comfortable around strong women because every single woman I grew up around was a power house.

Q:Is your father still alive and do you have a relationship with him?

No. He passed away when I was barely six.

Q:In your own words, what is the role of a man?

This is a very difficult question because society is advancing at such a rapid pace, that to define the role of a man is a tricky one, and I find the notion very prescriptive. Times are changing and we are discovering what it means as time moves on.

Q:Are you a traditionalist? 

I have been told that I am liberal and a modernist.

Q:Do you believe in ancestors?

I venerate them, I don’t know if I would say I believe in them.

Q:D you know who Marvin is?  


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