The study of masculinity in South Africa scarcely existed in 1990. A minor interest in gender was focused on women and inequality. South Africa was emerging from four decades of apartheid. It was into this environment that Raewyn Connell's ideas were introduced, adopted and adapted. Raewyn herself made a number of trips to South Africa in the 1990s and 2000s and found a ready reception for her theories about masculinity. South Africa was in transition feeling its way from white minority rule and authoritarianism toward democracy and a commitment to ending poverty, inequality, racism, and the oppression of women. In this article, I describe how Raewyn's idea energized scholarship, created a new research interest in men and masculinity, and contributed to gender activism.