Thobile Maso: Journey Of My Soul

The "Journey of my Soul" is a story that reflects the dynamics of human growth and development. It is a living objective truth that as a human being, you are born complete but unfinished and you will always catching up with your self as you journey forward day by day to the future. The life experiences are vital parts of human faculty for moulding and shaping of our way of life through the choices we take. Every choice has its own consequences. ["It is your fortitude that combines with aptitude which will take you to your championship": Jesse Jackson]

It is natural that every child is born out of parents and it is the responsibility of every parent to make sure that a child is brought up and able to arrive in adulthood being prepared to face the future trials of life. There are circumstances when your parents are not around, but we all know the African proverb which says, “Umntu ngumntu ngabantu” meaning (a person is a person because of peopl). When you were born people were there and even when you die, they will still be there. But people cannot help you until you have shown that you are consciously devoted to find a key to your success. One way or another they will present to you their service of assistance to find this important instrument which is being used to open up or for closing out, although you may not know when the day will come but as long as you behave your way, and focusing in building your future in dignity the end will be yours.


About in 1956 I was born in the village of Ngqanda in Transkei, from a big family as tradition encouraged then. My father was polygamous and had three wives and my mother was the third wife. The first two wives were married traditionally but my mother was married in civil court marriage type.

My mother was a domestic worker in East London and most spent of her time away from home. The second wife who had a daughter brought up all children in the family. There was also the cousin from my father’s sister we were like brothers. We all thought my father’s second wife was our mother because of her motherly in love.

Like all other boys then, I grew up looking after livestock and life was relatively good and free. The village was like a big extended family. As village boys we shepherded animals together and had our little games. One interesting tradition was when we were eating. Normally boys would be served in a big bowl so they can all eat from the same dish. If one went to any of the families in the neighborhood and found the other boys eating he would not expect to be invited to eat. All he needs to do is to find himself a spoon in the drawer and join in the eating. It was important to select a strong spoon. So once gotten a spoon, he would approach the eating-place and also start eating. In the meantime the other boys would be eating fast to try and finish the food before the other one come. Again, when they see him coming they brace themselves to push the spoon out of the way and make it slip out of the new one’s grip. If it fell out they continued to eat. So the spoon had to be carefully selected so it cannot break and so that one did not lose his grip. This is something, which I still remember with nostalgia.

However, life in a polygamous family was not without hardships. My mother because of having this marriage certificate unlike the other wives who were customary married and since customary marriage was not recognized by law, although it made no sense to me then. As the old saying goes, when two elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers. I became the grass, which was grinded beneath the heavy hoofs of fighting elephants. Unfortunately my senior brother was informed about the type of marriage my parents have entered into and how threatening it was to his status as the eldest son and traditionally heir. He was too young to contain himself. He reacted by punishing the children of the younger wives, meaning the daughter of the middle wife and in particularly me. Sometimes, he did things which were unbelievable cruel to us, like eating alone and giving whatever food was left to the dogs while we were hungry. The implications of his actions or even his verbal abuse made no sense to me at the time. Yet, my innocence and ignorance did not spare me the pain. it was a puzzle I only came to put together when I grew up. The problem between him and me was about traditional heir versus legal heir.

Came the time when my brother had to become a man. He went to the initiation school out in the mountain. It was the responsibility of the family to see that food was provided for him while he was there. I used to take food to him there. On the mountain he stayed with another boy from the village in the self-built hut called ‘buma’. There was a pillar at the centre to support the house. Close to the pillar was an open fireplace. One day when I took food for him there he was alone. He grabbed me and tied me up to the pillar. I do not remember whether he started fire in the fireplace or fire was already burning, only that I could see he was trying to burn me. Just then the boy who stayed with him came in and untied me and told him to let me go. This made me to understand an intensity of my brother’s hatred. I could not tell people at home about this incident, because I knew that it would be a futile exercise to do so. I continued to take food to him but this time I would creep and drop his food next to the doorway and ran away.


What are we

a poem by Thobile Maso©2002 Thobile Maso

We are born complete but unfinished
We constantly catching up with ourselves
We have arrived in an open imperfect world
we do not have a ready made world

That is what we are

We have no given relation with world
We produce tools to modify our physical environment
To bend the nature to our will
We cannot exist apart from the society
We are the part of the whole

That is what we are

There is no human meaning without activity
To sustain our on going biography of life
As co - producers of the world
Human existence is an ongoing act of balance

That is what we are

Culture is a totality of human products
You and I together we invent the tools and language
You and I together we can make a difference
If you want to know
You and I to gether we can shape and change the world



Both my mother and father came for a few days during Christmas holidays. Father was working for a construction company. While my mother was around I used to stay with her an arrangement I never really welcomed. I had no mother son relationship with her and did not know she was my biological mother. She had her own house (groundage), which was kept locked for the greater part of the year when she was not there. There was a stove, which she used to do her cooking while she was there.

Ngqanda was a small scattered village below the hill and there was a school on top where I started attending. As usually happens with children, I had to buy my space in their midst. I was confronted and provoked to fight so they can check my strength I was about 6 years old. So one day when I was led to a fight with another boy. I fought like a bull and defeated him. The glory that was short lived because the fight that followed was with a girl. The girl was older than me but since I was still swelling with the victory I thought I could do the same with her, more so because despite the age she was a girl. This was a terrible miscalculation. The girl went home victorious and left me wishing I had not accepted the fight.Lady frere is a small town about 12 km to our village. My mother happened to find domestic work in this town and I left to stay with her. Leaving school in Ngqanda, the village I grew up it made me feel a little apprehensive but at the same time, a change of scene was not so much unwelcome either. Initially I missed Ngqanda, but I soon adapted to the life in Ladyfrere. I started attending the school in the township, which was dominantly a coloured area.

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Autobiography of Thobile Maso©Tobile Maso 2007

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