I was going to talk about “Moses”, but just a few hours ago I was told that the daughter and mother-in-law of of one of my family’s close friends died in a car accident a few days ago. Her husband died 2 years ago, they all were like family to me,  So I am going to dedicate my blog to them this week.

The father was a Chief of a village in South Africa, I don’t want to appear that I am name dropping but he had a big impact on the lives of not only the people he oversaw in his village, but also on the government and the direction that the government was taking under Nelson Mandela!  Just google “Chief Ngubo Mgcotelywa” and you will see a few things that he was involved with.

His mum was a great woman too, when I stayed there for a month, I was on my own, Nokhaya Gcinusapho Mgcotyelwa (I knew her as Mama Pauline!), looked after me and when the Chief was gaining qualifications in the UK, she stepped into the role of Chief and watched over his people!  She was also the deputy Principal of the local Junior school.

During my month’s stay in his village, I was treated as if I was a member of their family, I lived with them in their home, I played with their children in their yard (their daughter was six when I last remember her, according to the article she was a teenager at the time of her death), the first night after my parents returned to the UK, he took me to collect his wife from somewhere and he introduced me as Andile Mgcotyelwa (For the month I stayed with them that was who I was!)

There were some funny moments, when he suggested I “hustle” the money from the fathers who were too busy drinking their family’s money away in the pool halls, rather than supporting their wives and kids! Or when he asked “do you play soccer?” I said yes and the next thing I know, I have agreed to be a goalie for his local soccer team!

So why have I talked about them, well in my opinion they were people I learnt a lot from and think others could!

  • Their attitude was  inspirational- he refused to be a “Prince John” type Chief, by not constantly asking for “taxes” from the people in his vicinity because he didn’t believe in making them struggle financially! So he was a very respected Chief!
  • Their love was unending, Mama Pauline took children in from families who were struggling and looked after them until they were old enough to “go into the world”, the Chief was constantly helping people, (I cannot count the number of times he picked up people who I thought were “hitch-hikers” that got into the back of the pick-up/bakkie truck where I was sitting and then he dropped them off further down the road!)
  • His confidence to speak to important figures- He firmly expressed his opinion that his village needed a clinic to Nelson Mandela, who at the time was the President of South Africa, Mandela came to the funeral service for a large bus accident and Chief Mgcotyelwa said “if we had a clinic we could have saved most of the casualties” (the nearest hospital was an hour or so away!) Because he only asked for a clinic, Mandela said he would ensure a school was built too!

They are an amazing family and I had the unforgettable privilege to know them personally, they will be greatly missed by a lot of people!