Akeem grew up in a generation where being a man meant being in charge. Being a man meant being the head of the family and taking responsibility for every resource needed in the home.
He grew up in a generation where being a man meant he could show no sign of weakness or vulnerability. Where it meant he shouldn't ask for help no matter what.
He grew up in a generation where being a manly father meant you should rule the house with physical show of power. Where it was alien to show any sign of genuine love, as genuine love will require vulnerability.
Akeem saw this at home, in the home of his friends and in the society as a whole.
He grew up in a society that decided to turn a blind eye to the fact that sexual abuse happens to guys too and the effects that come after it. So when he was sexually abused, he had to man up.
When he eventually decided to speak out, he found out that the help available were for girls, as no one believed that it happens to guys too.
He grew up in a society where no one had the time to give him proper sexual orientation and education, as such he had to learn by exploring and experimenting to gain sexual knowledge.
He grew up in a society where he was told that the lady was the weaker vessel and had to be treated as such.
Akeem always had questions on his mind when he realized that almost every empowerment/development program or project that was done in his school targeted the girls; as himself and his guys were left to figure out life for themselves.
A generation where men were seen as the enemy and has thus become an endangered species. A generation where there were few good men and fewer good men who wanted to get married; so very few good examples of what it meant to be a good father.
He grew up in a society where women had started playing the role of father and mother, as many of them had become king queens or queen kings.
It's amazing how we are raising a generation of boys who do not have father figures to look up to, and somehow we expect them to grow up into father figures for their sons who will then end up with our daughters. What an irony.
This is the reality Akeem experienced as a boy and is still experiencing as a young man.
Akeem is expected to love and respect the ladies in and around the society, but the only image he has in his head is of how the ladies were treated in the music videos.
A few years from now, Akeem will be married. He is expected to behave totally different from what he has observed and experienced in his family as a growing child.
He is expected to be a loving husband, a concerned father, a positive role model and an example to his son. Things that were alien to him as a growing child.
What if we could raise the next generation of Akeems differently.
Men, we can do better.
We need to be physically and emotionally present for Akeem. We need to teach him what it means to be human and a man.
He needs to learn fatherhood and how to show others genuine love. We need to teach him by also being an example of what we want to see in him.
But how can we give him what we don't have.
Women, we can do better.
Akeem doesn't need to be seen as an enemy or a competition by the ladies that we raise through our women empowerment movements.
He need not be sidelined when we raise issues around mental, emotional or sexual well-being.
He needs to be seen as someone who also needs help and can access it when needed. He is a Man, but he also needs help.
As a society, we can do better.
We can change the narrative about what it means to be a man. We can change the messages we put out on social media, in our schools, in our religious places etc.
This should not be forced on Akeem, but taught to him intentionally and consciously.
The future family and society needs Akeem.. We need to prepare Akeem for them.
Therapist, Human Capacity and Business Development Strategist.
Founder, The IDealMan Initiative