IMBADU Men’s Project

An Imbadu Men's Project workshop at Goedgedacht outside Malmesbury

An Imbadu Men’s Project workshop at Goedgedacht outside Malmesbury

Arthur, Lene, Lesley

Field workers Arthur Rengqu and Lesley Thomas with Danish friend Lene Nicholaisen

On the Meaning of IMBADU – Connecting Men with Compassion

Imbadu derives from the Xhosa tradition and refers to men gathering around the kraal, addressing issues that concern them. We see ourselves as men in this way, addressing issues around men and masculinity (or masculinities) – not in an exclusive or dominatory way, but with the aim of growing more and more into men who are compassionate, being able to relate, connect with other men, women, children, nature and God in a deep, meaningful, nonviolent and life-giving way.

The subtitle is meant to indicate that we see ourselves in the process of helping (other) men to get connected with themselves, others and God through compassion that we invoke and nurture in our various workshops and events. But the subtitle also expresses a self-reflexive aspect, namely that we Imbadu men aspire to be men with compassion who are ourselves in an ongoing process of connecting with ourselves, others and God.

Even a third reading is possible: that we are creating a space for men for whom compassion is central and who are longing to connect with other likeminded men. Our approach is primarily experiential processes, informed by silence and prayer from the contemplative tradition; but also events with presentations and discussions. We meet men wherever they are on their spiritual journey and however that connects to specific faith traditions or no particular faith.

What do we do?

The Centre’s Imbadu Men’s Project has developed a process that offers an experiential way for men to explore and improve ways of relating to self, others and God.

How do we do this?

Come and join us for a workshop where you will have the opportunity of experiencing the Imbadu Men’s Project process, as well as getting more clarity on how you or your group/ congregation can get involved and benefit from this approach.

Mission Statement

The IMBADU Men’s Project offers… an experiential journey for men to explore and improve ways of relating to self, others and God.  

…experiential: we are encouraging men to share their own experience, rather than discussing issues, defending positions from a ‘head space’. This is done by inviting men to reflect on a range of different topics with relevance to masculinity and share their own experience with others in small groups.

…journey: we are all on the way, nobody has arrived, there is no expert, we are all learning. This also means that one should not expect a certain outcome (like in a cooking or mechanics course), the ‘perfect man’ after the conclusion of a course, weekend, etc. It is all part of a lifelong learning process. However, the direction that is taken is important.

…men: this is a project for men. We are concerned for men. We believe that in the current South African situation many men are insecure about themselves and relationships with other men and women and children. There is a very high degree of violence, mostly committed by men. But while we are concerned for men, this concern is not exclusive one but inclusive, including a concern for women and children, and embracing a diversity of masculinities.

…explore: we don’t want to make assumptions about ourselves and others, but rather explore, find out, ask questions, hold the tension of not having (immediate) answers, venture into the unknown.

…improve: accepting that we are all on a journey, there is room for improvement, growth, development which we seek consciously. This also means facing the sides within us that may need attention.

…relating: From our Christian background we know that God is a relational God, three persons in one, constantly in loving relationship. The Men’s Project is on a journey for men to emulate the quality of this loving relationship, which includes the search for justice, peace and non-violence.

…relating to self: getting to know oneself better, facing one’s own shadow, dark parts, sin, reconciling different parts of oneself, becoming more at ease with one’s identity, becoming more real, more authentic.

…relating to others: expressing oneself to other men during workshop sessions, gaining more confidence to relate to others outside the men’s group: other men, women, children. This will contribute to community building. Others also includes the wider community of beings, such as animals, plants and nature in general.

…relating to God: in times of prayer, quiet, devotions, rituals; but also in and through deeply relating to ourselves and others.  Thus: when we deepen our relationship with God, this has an effect on our relationship to ourselves and to others. And vice versa.

PBO status

The Imbadu Men’s Project is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation and your financial support to this project can be subtracted for tax benefits. Our PBO Registration number 930-000-753-NGO

Help us to continue making a difference teaching men the language of silence and so explore alternatives to violent behavior – in society and in Pollsmoor Prison – by contributing to this project.