This week we got to talk to Emmanuel Nkomo the Djembe Monks muso (Host/Producer) & Makhosi Sibanda (Executive Producer) of the Men’s Conference Podcast. The Men’s Conference Podcast brings you weekly episodes of entertaining, informative, and honest discussions on issues that are often taken for granted. The talk show observes the nature and life of men and how the society views them— at this point giving them a platform to express themselves.
For those who don’t know, please relate to us your illustrious career
Men’s Conference Podcast: Not sure if the term ‘illustrious’ would apply in this case.
We are friends and colleagues, really, we hang out a lot and play boozers football for Zwakala Zulu Football Club (Saturdays) and Izinsizwa Ezimnyama Social Club (Sundays). We worked together for a while in the newsroom and learnt a lot from each other in the processes of gathering news, story-writing and of course production. Now we are working on something of our own which is The Men’s Conference Podcast.
We both suffered serious personal losses in the past 2 years. (Makhosi lost his uncle and Emmanuel lost his brother). It was sudden and unexpected. So we share a lot on coping with such terrible losses and how to keep on keeping on.
We are obviously not the only ones going through stuff so we’re activating conversations on mental health, making an urgent call for healing in our community.
At the chore we are just friends, professionals using our skills and gifts to create something; something that regular people can enjoy and resonate with. So we try to keep the conversations real and honest. We benefit so much from these discussions because we come face to face with some deep issues and some really funny stories. Life is all about relationships. Even the most elusive recluse has to deal with people. We have hurt people, we have been hurt and the cycle goes on. But we can all at least try to do better. At least try to break the cycle of abuse.
Relationships are often transactional. Emmanuel talks to Mgcini Nyoni, a storyteller, poet, and theatre director about the fear of being labeled stingy and how it has destroyed many men. https://t.co/3Mh4FxudW6 pic.twitter.com/ABwemK5Cdp
— Men's Conference Pod (@conference_pod) April 30, 2021
How did the Men’s Conference Podcast come about?
Men’s Conference Podcast: We needed an outlet! So it was born out of the desire to create alternative spaces for expression by facilitating some of the most important conversations mostly to do with mental health, wellness and wellbeing. We are actively taking part in the fight against stigma when it comes to mental illness and depression. Men need to know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.
Why a podcast specifically?
Men’s Conference Podcast: A podcast fits well with our objectives. It’s practical, you can listen to it on the go and any time; ergo, all this works well within the scope of our narrative, it’s sustainable for us and our resources.
How did you overcome the stigma surrounding #MaleMentalHealth by having these discussions?
Men’s Conference Podcast: It’s an ongoing process. There is so much stigma against people suffering from mental illnesses, stress, trauma and depression. A lot of people are suicidal and the sad thing is we sometimes realise it when it’s too late. Mental illness seems to be a conversation we Africans are not yet ready to have. So we are actively participating in raising awareness through the podcast. The best we can do is by creating opportunities for healing, reconciliation and growth.
How did you get equipment for your podcast?
Men’s Conference Podcast: We use personal gadgets for research, recordings and production. Technology is becoming more reliable and minimal so we can do our work with ease from the comfort of our homes and other workspaces.
#Episode9 so far has the highest listens, here we were talking about #ErectileDysfunction with @DoctorGoodVibe and @Mighty_Rootz It seems this is really a big issue. What else can we explore on this topichttps://t.co/Kn78jXvJnR pic.twitter.com/jT5Tzk3wUI
— Men's Conference Pod (@conference_pod) April 28, 2021
How do you decide on your topics?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Research! Every other week we have International Day of this or the other. So that’s one thing that can influence a theme. We also assess how relevant an issue is to our current situation.
Topics are also inspired by random conversations with friends (or in public spaces), issues trending in the cyberspace and current affairs, TV and other social gatherings. We also speak to professionals (e.g health practitioners) to find out what problems or illnesses they are dealing with at a given time. Above all we get feedback from listeners requesting that we talk about a certain issue or further probe an ongoing discussion.
What do you hope to achieve through this podcast?
Men’s Conference Podcast: To encourage men to open up about what’s bothering them, share knowledge and ideas, coming up with possible solutions when faced with any sort of challenges in life, especially stress and mental health issues. Communication in any relationship (at home or in the workplace) is key so we want to demonstrate the importance of talking through and resolving issues as opposed to resorting to violence, passive aggression, silent treatment, rejection, stigma and all other forms of negativity.
We want to push the agenda of complementing each other as men rather than comparing. Most of us already struggle with relatives comparing us, spouses and partners comparing us with the next man. Men are also victims of abuse like body-shaming and broke-man slander. You also have the fear of being replaced at work, in a team, at home. All these things diminish our own individual greatness. An incredible personal accomplishment can be stolen by comparison. So we need to be gentler with ourselves, with each other by amplifying the voice of encouragement and empathy.
The concept and desire is to truly capture the spirit and power of speaking up against the abuse of men, mental anguish, and trauma. While we are aware of the damage caused by generations of patriarchy, there are dark spaces where men are suffering in silence because real man don’t bawl. So we need men to speak up not necessarily in retaliation, but as a medicine to heal a fractured world today. In all this we need to take responsibility for our part in this brokenness (as perpetrators or enablers) and move towards playing our role in protecting children, women, the elderly, people living with disabilities and the vulnerable!
How much of your content is inspired by your personal experiences?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Quite a lot. As you know, experiences or observations, good or bad, can turn into a topic for discussion because chances are someone else in the world has seen or been through something similar so it just happens like that. We also challenge ourselves to confront topics we are not comfortable with. Perhaps that way we can face our demons, overcome some fears and educate each other on dealing with phobias and other societal issues like Capitalism, Politics, Fashion, Marital Affairs, Addiction, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Religion, Spirituality, Witchcraft, Sexuality, Toxic Masculinity, Misogyny, Paedophilia, Gender Based Violence, Homophobia, Tribalism and so on).
How has the reception of the podcast been from men?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Everything we talk about is based on lived experiences. So far what we have created debate, received feedback, criticism and overall engagement with opinions from different minds. All these are essential indicators of how we are performing.
How instrumental is social media in your podcasting process?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Today, Social Media is arguably one of the biggest sources of information, entertainment and a space where most people can exercise their right to free speech. As earlier said we are participating in the already ongoing conversation on mental health, wellness and other social conversations.
Social Media is accessible and user friendly so it only makes sense that we make as much use of it to share our stories.
How does someone get on your podcast as a guest?
Men’s Conference Podcast: It depends. We invite professionals, friends, and colleagues – any individual who may have thoughts on the issue. It can also be anyone willing to talk about issues at the heart of what they are going through or have experienced. In essence it’s a safe space for men to express themselves.
How do you stay consistent when making content?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Talking to different people regardless of status in society, people who like to think and analyse things, are open minded and just willing to open up about some of the most ignored issues. That way we can tap into alternative knowledge systems. The beautiful thing about an initiative like ours is we have no gate-keepers, editorial red-tape, gagging and so on, we cultivate a culture and create an environment where opinions flow freely.
We love your visuals for the podcast promo, who makes them?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Why, thank you! Solomon Harudzibwi does our graphics. It’s always wise to let the professionals take care of things!
Do you work alone or is there a team in the background?
Men’s Conference Podcast: We are still small. We have a few people providing different services.
Have you been able to monetize the podcast?
Men’s Conference Podcast: It’s still too early to say. But as a media space, yes we hope to provide advertising space, forge partnerships, organise events and so on.
How does the podcast grow from here?
Men’s Conference Podcast: We have just wrapped up our first season and we working on having audio-visual discussions, interviews, one on ones and round-table discussions. No pressure, really!
What are your thoughts on the Bulawayo podcasting industry?
Men’s Conference Podcast: There is so much we need to talk about. A lot to do with our communities and beyond the city. It’s encouraging to note that we are part of a growing movement of voices that document and own our narratives as a people.
Will we ever hear a woman’s voice on the Men’s Conference Podcast?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Men do not live in isolation. Whatever we do affects women, one way or the other. The Men’s Conference Podcast is not entirely a Boy Scout Initiative. It’s for Mankind! That is We Men and Women. So anything is possible!
Which episode has been the most popular and why do you think that is?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Unsurprisingly, the episode on Erectile Dysfunction. This one is a serious issue! Like we have just said, men don’t live in isolation and this topic is at the centre of long lasting relationships between men and women!
Will we ever get to experience a Men’s Conference event?
Men’s Conference Podcast: Post Covid-19 we definitely will be looking at events that bring people together along with potential partners, thought leaders, organisations and institutions which are dedicated to advocating for the promotion on Mental Health Wellness and the promotion of better men in the community such as Padare.
If you’d like to participate in Conference community, be sure to visit their official Social media platforms.
New Episode alert : Compassion & Empathy_ Helping Someone Suffering From Stress_Depression (With Tino Gwitima) Episode 13 @tinogwitima @Mighty_Rootz @Nkanyyso@PatieMusa @tonyfridayzwhttps://t.co/oug2XljzOu
— Men's Conference Pod (@conference_pod) May 7, 2021