The Zulu king rises up from his seat, next to the fireplace. His right hand firmly gripped to his spear. The lion mane on his head swivels slowly from the cool breeze of the evening. All around him are men seated, gazed at him. Young and old men from different walks of life. Men who have come to the fireplace with a purpose. They are all in quest of what they are made of; their salt.

They have questions. Questions that need answers.

The unified thudding of their feet in applause recedes as the Zulu king stands firmly and motions with his spear for silence. He is ready to speak. His face charged with wisdom, valor, and fierceness. His physical build portrays nothing short of muscular strength. His voice roars and in a supernatural response, the fire crackles with it. The gods acknowledge him.

‘Fellow men, welcome to the place of reckoning.’ The men look at him with expectant faces. They cling to every word he says. His fame has spread across the land. Once every year he assembles a few hundred men to his presence. Meets them every evening for a month and unfolds to them, the secrets of masculinity. Lessons he and a couple of his comrades have gleaned over the years as they have sailed the choppy waters of manhood.

In all this, he takes no credit for the transformation the men go through. He believes that just as iron sharpens iron, a man is made among men.

Most of these men come bearing emotional wounds, some are skeptical, some are broken, some are lost in a vast sea of confusion not knowing where to navigate to next, some are on the verge of giving up; throwing in the white flag or cowardly embrace death.

But not all have a sad tale to tell, a few of them desire that their burning flames be fanned as they tread the right path. Whatever the case, one general cause units them.

They are here to become better men.

‘What brings you here?’ The Zulu king asks, cautiously pointing his spear to a young lad at the back of the sitting crowd.

Thanks to his experience, he can already guess the response. The narrative for the last decade has been the same. The questions men ask;

Who am I? What is expected of me in my family and in my society? What is my calling? Am I good enough? Can I handle the job? How do I deal with failure as it reveals its overwhelming presence to me? Where is the place of God in my life? What is my role as a man? What do I believe in? How do I heal from my wounds? How do I live a fulfilling life and leave a worthwhile legacy?

The king paints a picture, and explains to them the journey ahead. Every evening, they will meet at the fireplace and talk about different attributes of manhood. They will have insightful talks that will spur a change of heart and mind. They will share amongst themselves their stories and through this, one man will learn from the other. They will be called to be vulnerable, a common place of discomfort for most men. They will have to do this if they expect any real change to happen.

The king smiles with confidence. The journey of manhood has just begun.


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