Over the weekend a reported 47 people were killed in gang-related violence in Manenberg, South Africa, and the surrounding area.
I've been working in Manenberg since 2011, looking at the ways a community plagued by gang violence –– stemming from historical, geographical, cultural, and governmental oppression –– looks to the future and manages the loves, losses and predictabilities of day-to-day living.
Pictured is Meezie Lottering at 7 years old in 2017 (1st and 3rd image) and at 3 years old. A boy on the precipice of becoming a young man, he's faced with putting together the pieces of his masculinity. Raised by a single mother, he looks to her, his older brother, and his community for guidance.
As the parent of a nearly 6-year-old boy I'm familiar with the ways society sends entrenched and harmful messages to youth about what it means to be a man. The daily work of diffusing these messages is something Meezie's mother and I have often discussed. Though we’re raising our sons in very different circumstances, the shared uncertainty of a child's future is a poignant and weighty experience for us both.