Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspire someone. Tell your real story, in your own language.

Refilwe Thobega asks Who are you?
ka Setswana ba re O mang?
My grandfather was born in 24 January 1919, five months after Nelson mandela's birthday: July 1918. He, my oupa, was a Chief at a small farm-village in die Noord Kaap -- Kikahela. He was recently hit by a stroke. He lives. His half-sister, Oumama Rabeka, is the current Kgosana.

Abraham Mochware had many children. About 12 or more, but less than 15. He had one wife, Mitjie Motshidisi Os. I am one of his grand-children (he also has dikokomana) -- I am the first daughter of Olaotse Virginia (Mochware) Thobega and Kagiso Alban Thobega.

My father’s father, Abel Thobega, just like my mother’s father was a moruti at his church (Anglican). My oupa was a mogogi at his church (London Missionary Society, later called UCCSA [United Congregational Church of Southern Africa]). I hear that Abel Thobega, was about to be given the chieftaincy by his forefathers (Boo rra Thobega ko Mmankgodi) when he decided to “rather” be a priest. So I hear he fled to a nearby village called Molepolole – a village I once stayed at, as well as Maung, Lobatse and Gaborone.

Owai! It was too late for monna mogolo... Royalty was already in his blood. You can’t run away from what you already are old man.

Mind you, these two men (both my oupatjies) were not friends. They did not even know each other, let alone, like each other. And one thing for sure, my mother’s marriage to my father was not initially blessed by either one of them. That’s why it made it difficult for us to leave Botswana (my father’s home) and come to South Africa (my mother’s home) in 1989. 

So my mother sent me to SA first. I stayed with my late aunty, Onkaetse Mochware (mother of Mpho Akinleye and Ontibetse Mochware). She is one of the strong black women who raised me at a time when my mother was mourning the murder and death of her husband, while at the same time fighting for her bed, sofas, fridge and TV.  So mmangwane Onkaetse became my mother for about 18 months. I was five or six years old. I was ready for preschool – a Roman Catholic pre-school at Batlharos Village (Kuruman). My sister, Botshelo Thobega, who was two-years-old at the time, remained in Botswana with my mother while she, with the help of her father, Abraham Mochware, fought for her belongings.

I think Abraham was more brave. My mother’s father. He took the throne. I think although he was too modest and a coward to accept what was rightfully his, my father’s father was powerful! His sperm created my father and my father’s sperm was one of the ingredients that led to my birth. One oupa was brave, another was powerful. Guess what I am: A cocktail. I’m cosmopolitan. I also love the taste of it! I make a killer cosmo.

My name is Refilwe Thobega, born in 25 December 1983. I have a long story ... so, I will cut it off here. Let’s wait for my memoir.

I know who I am and where I came from. I challenge you to do the same. Find yourself and tell us who you are. Connect the dots. I did.  Inspire someone, tell your story. In your own language!

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