Not All #MenAreTrash

cape town

Gagasi FM talk-show host Alex Mthiyane, businessmen Sandile Zungu, and Vivian Reddy, scientist Siya Xuza, Norma Gigaba and 5FM DJ Euphonik mentoring young men at the Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall yesterday. Picture: Nkululeko Nene

“Mommy, I don’t want to grow up to be trash.”

“Oh my sweet boy, you could never be trash.”

“But isn’t that what those women are saying about Daddy?”

“Daddy made terrible decisions, Denis.”

“They say he killed those women, other women say that makes all men trash. I don’t want to hurt anyone, Mommy.”

“You won’t, little one. You don’t have to be anyone except my wonderful little boy.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too, Denis. I always will. I promise to teach you to be the best person you can be. Now get ready for school. Today you’re going to meet Norma Gigaba, the Finance Minister’s wife.”

Lefa Pillay, Denis’s father, had been arrested along with several other men for the string of rapes and murders of women in Durban prompting protests declaring #MenAreTrash. Dipalesa, the little boy’s Mom, would do anything to fight that stereotype.

I’m writing this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use Google maps street images as an inspiration to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the pegman takes us to Cape Town, South Africa. I did my usual Wikipedia search but nothing came up for me. Then I looked at the local news stories.

I found a May 23rd story called #MenAreTrash: Yes, we are trash! which reported on protests in Durban, South Africa on the streets and in social media in response to multiple violent crimes against women over the previous two weeks.

I also found another story out of Cape Town, dated today (July 30th) called Not all #MenAreTrash, says Gigaba’s wife.

Part of the story reads:

IN THE spirit of teaching boys to become men, high-profile businessmen and radio personalities engaged with pupils from five schools at the Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall, Denis Hurley Centre, where they held an interactive motivational session with young men.

On Saturday, at the event hosted by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s wife, Norma, and her foundation, boys were urged to be resilient in their quest to build healthy communities.

Gigaba said the focus was on boys because she felt that they were neglected. “We cannot fold our arms and watch them ruining opportunities of creating a better society. Men are called all sorts of names, more recently #MenAreTrash.”

My own wee fictional tale flowed from there.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

11 thoughts on “Not All #MenAreTrash

  1. I love where you took this. I think so many now have to worry about their children just for the color of their skin, not to mention “the sins of their fathers.” A nicely rendered piece, James.
    (would do anything fight that stereotype. I think you’re missing a “to” in this sentence 😉


  2. Good story. I for one am sick of everything being blamed on any stereotype. I do not doubt that some people are behaving like trash, and thus need to be taken to the garbage heap, but I do wish people would moderate their speech, no matter the cause.


  3. Think this story calls for a “Flash-forward” extension to see if the boy does indeed become a “Man of respectability”. Excellent story.


  4. This was an original response to the prompt, James, and a good story. Here’s a true-life example of how quickly someone’s commitment to an offensive stereotype can be wiped out: for some time I’ve known a woman who adhered to the notion that “all men are rapists” (she didn’t seem to mind that this must include me and all the other men she knew). Anyway, her belief disappeared overnight when her sister gave birth to a son; she couldn’t maintain a position that would have meant applying the rapist label to her nephew as soon as he reached manhood. Fickle or what?
    Reading this back, it looks like an apocryphal story, but I promise it’s fact, not fiction.


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