Gender equality is something I am very passionate about. My family, friends, acquaintances, and people connected to me on the cyberspace have always been carried along in the things I do to help make this a reality. I am more or less all about educating the girl child and young women out there and empowering them with values and mindsets that would help them break stereotypes and shatter societal constructs. In my years of advocacy, people have asked me, “why are you focused on just girls, why not do something for boys too?” My answer is always the same, I don’t handle that because it’s not my strong suit. Although I have always had boys in my audience, they have never been my focus because I am not as experienced in the boy child advocacy as I am in the girl child advocacy. Girl child advocacy resonates more with me naturally because I am female. I have had firsthand experience of a lot of things these girls go through and over time that has stirred up a passion in me to see them live beyond societal conditioning. But that is not to say that I am not for the boy child advocacy. I think that if gender equality is going to be a reality then we need both boys and girls to fully understand the concept. That’s why from time to time, I seek out, applaud and shed the spotlight on men out there who have chosen in their own little way to pick up the gauntlets and advocate for the boy child. Today, my focus is on Ebuka Ede, the founder of Save the Boys Initiative. Ebuka is young and passionate about boy child development. In this interview, he shares a little about himself, his inspiration, his experiences with the advocacy, his successes, challenges, and what he hopes to achieve.
Sit back and enjoy:
- Can we meet you, please?
My name is Ebuka Ede. I am the founder of Save the Boys Initiative and I’m a boy child advocate, passionate about the holistic development of the boys.
2. In a world where men rarely organize programs for boys or men, but we hear complaints that women do a lot of girls, what inspired you to start an organization on boy child advocacy?
Thank you very much for this question. Like you rightly said, there are a lot of programs going on for women and girls and there have been silent negligence on issues that concern boys/men. I was inspired to start up this organization because of the issues and deep struggles I have seen boys go through as I interact with them over the years, and because I have a strong desire to see a new nation, the inspiration to do this came. My heart is burdened when I see men on the street smoking, drinking, addicted to drugs, and engaged in cultism. I am always troubled when I hear people talking about crime, violence against women and girls, and all that is happening in our society, down to even our leaders and issues going around. I keep wondering and asking myself when the end of these will be. And I saw that if we really must deal with this, then we must start from the root. Boys are going through deep issues, if we are not able to handle, help them deal with those issues, help them build their emotional capacity when these boys grow up, they become toxic because they have not been built well, because a broken boy is a broken man. I see boys crying deep within and yearning for help and I believe the solution to all this is to build our men if we must build a sustainable society, then we must be balanced and holistic in our approach; raise and empower children; boys and girls alike with the right values.
3. How has the reception been so far over the years from boys you have impacted?
Yeah, it has been an awesome experience, seeing boys who have lost hope in life, regaining their hope because of the transformation they’ve gone through, I will say I have had good reception. The response we get from people who hear about the initiative is something like, “Wow! A boy’s initiative? this is a welcome development”.
Well, sadly, on the other hand, some feel that I should not be saving boys; one day somebody saw the shirt I was wearing that had an inscription that says “save the boys initiative” and she asked, “what are you saving the boys for?” I have encountered people who feel boys or men shouldn’t be saved. So, I have had both good and bad reception but I don’t focus on the negative, I look for those that are yearning and ready to be transformed. And if I encounter those who don’t understand, I explain to them the issues boys are going through and how they can even help to build these boys and restructure the focus of men, so most of the issues faced in the society will be settled.
4. Who are your role models in this area?
Well, I have been inspired by the works of great men who are really working and looking out for men, one of the people that inspire me is Tony Rapu, he is doing so much even though not particular to boys alone but I see how he goes around even to the streets to bring boys out from bunks, from very dirty, messy situation and their lives are transformed. I am also inspired by Fela Durotoye, and the work he is doing with men.
There so many great men even in the faith, in the Christendom who are doing exploits and doing so much to liberate men from bondage and chains that have held them bound. So, I am inspired by great men all over the world who are working tirelessly to see that the society trains and build responsible men.
5. What are the thematic areas for the programs you organize?
Our targets are major areas where we reach out to boys is to bring hope to them and help them build a life of purpose. Our major goal is to Equip, Mentor, and empower boys to live productive and positive lives. One major area we work on is reformation projects, reforming the minds of boys; letting them know that they can be responsible, different and that they can come out of any struggle they are going through. So it’s a reformation, it’s a movement, our major focus is to reform, to bring about positive change, so whatever programme or activity we do, we always try to hit that. We make sure whatever we are doing always boils down to the reformation of boys and even men.
6. Have you attended other programs before on this before you launched yours? If yes, which programs?
Well, not really per se but I have always attended youth meetings as that is where some issues of boys are often discussed. I have always longed to attend seminars or programmes centred on boys and their interests. Though I can’t really remember but I have attended programmes that really helped to broaden my vision. I have also listened to the men programs by TD Jakes the ‘He motions’ and also ‘the Brothers Keepers’ that goes on in the US, these programmes have really helped me and also given me the inspiration to move on.
7. What do you hope to achieve with this program?
What we want to achieve is a new nation, we want to see a society where women are happy with the husbands they have, children are happy with the fathers they have and the society is happy with the leadership. We hope to see a safe society; where people can go out without being worried about being robbed or harassed. We hope to see a new and transformed nation.
8. What is your advice to other men who also want to venture into boy child advocacy but do not know how to?
Well, I will say the time to start is now! be consistent and keep going, you may not get the encouragement you need but keep going, you might not have all the resources you need but just let the vision drive you. Don’t give up no matter your location whether in a rural or urban area, start the work! Start a boy’s club or something no matter how small, just be consistent and your passion will speak for you.
9. What is your call to action sentence so that more men will start doing things for boys?
I always say IT IS EASIER TO BUILD A STRONG BOY THAN TO MEND A BROKEN MAN. We can all contribute our quota, no matter how little to secure the future by saving a boy today. NO BOY/MAN SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND.
10. What is your advice for men who belittle the efforts of women who are passionate about girls?
Any man who is hitting a woman or seeing a woman as less is a man who is suffering from an inferiority complex. When you understand the place of a man and the place of a woman, you will know that it is not a competition, we are all collaborating and cooperating to move the nation forward. So anytime I see rancour and division amongst men and women I just see the lack of understanding. We are not fighting for anything, united we stand and move further, so let’s not belittle one another, God has blessed everyone with potential, whether man or woman we must respect one another, appreciate one another and support one another to build the nation of our dream. I appreciate Men who are really doing great things for women, I celebrate you, I salute your efforts to see to it that our women are protected, let’s keep pushing it. I want to see more men come out and say, ‘yes we are responsible and we love and cherish our women, we will protect them and not avail ourselves to be perpetrators of evil.’ We only truly win when we win together!
I am sure you have enjoyed this educative time out with Ebuka Ede, the young, passionate founder of Save the Boys initiative. He has shared with us what advocacy has been like for him and I hope his journey inspires you to help save a boy today. In his words, “No boy/man should be left behind”. If we want our society to become a better place, all hands must be on deck. And like Ebuka rightly said, Raising boys and girls alike and empowering them with the right kind of values is the only way we can secure our future and see a transformed society. If you would like to connect with Ebuka or partner with/support his advocacy, you can reach out to him on his social media platforms or on his website below:
@save the boys Initiative
Facebook: Ede Ebuka Obika
LinkedIn: Ebuka Obika Ede