Thobile Maso: Journey Of My Soul


I stayed in C section with this family with the whereabouts of my mother not known. It came a time when the family had to move back home in the rural areas to a place called Peddie. The couple did not have a child of its own and in essence I had become the child of the family. The family was from the rural place in a farm called Damdam. When the family decided that the wife should go back to Dam dam I went with her leaving the husband in C-section trying to find a job. He had no permanent job but just irregular jobs .

In the rural areas I went back to school. The money from foster father was irregular until he stopped sending altogether. Life took yet a dramatic turn for me. We started going without proper food for days on end. The pangs of hunger made me join in the food hunting activities with the other boys in the village. The farm nearby and there was a pineapple orchard. This orchard started being my source of food.

It was also during this time that I also learnt many things pertaining to rural life of a boy, like hunting animals and honey harvesting. I also learnt to walk in front of the span during ploughing seasons. We would go to this orchard to steal pineapples. Sometimes we would go in the night under the cover of darkness. When it was during daylight we would crawl on our stomachs so that we could not be seen. I came to learn about the ripening process of pineapples at this time. During night adventures our eyes were useless in helping us select the ripe pineapples. We came to learn that when you pick a ripened one it did not make noise when breaking from the shrub. So, whenever it made noise we threw it away because it was not ready to be eaten. We would take pineapples to eat away from the orchard and even took some into the houses as well. The amount of waste that went with these never even crossed our minds as we threw the raw pineapples away. It was an urgent need to fill our stomachs. These escapades were our survival strategies, but the funny side of it cannot be overlooked as well, like when we were chased and we had to run for our lives in fear of being beaten or arrested. We also stole maize meals from the farm to roast and eat. There were times when these sources dried up and we had to live with empty stomachs. There was a time when we could not stand the pangs of hunger anymore and we resorted to eating Lucerne (alfalfa, when is ripped it looks like a wheat ). The Lucerne is planted to feed animals, but we filled our stomachs and kept us going to see the next day although we would suffer from terrible stomach pains and cramps.


Rise and Share
a poem by Thobile Maso©2002 Thobile Maso

I am a human being and demoralised
I do things not because I like to
I do things because I have to
I am separated from the soil and the tools

Chased away from the land, Law and Labour
Capitalism, you are a monster
I am Universal Soldier, Combatant for Universal Mission

Rise and Share, Rise and Share

Workers let me talk to your being
Workers let me penetrate the essence of your being
Workers let me provoke your social being

Rise and Share, Rise and Share

You have nothing to lose except the chains of oppression and exploitation
Mountains of truth, mountains of realities
Oh milestone of Marx, Engels and Lenin

Rise and Share, Rise and Share

No more dancing around the truth
No more throws of blames around
Why camouflaging of laws?
Why the shdowing boxing?

Rise and Share, Rise and Share

Who ever come across them?
The Whole world was in thunderous joy
They know where the plight of the world is going to end
Workers seize the moment
Decaying egg shell is bursting asunder

(This poem is dedicated to the late Chris Hani and Joe Slovo)


I also had a way of trapping birds. I set my trap every morning before I went to school, and every afternoon when I came back I was sure to find a bird trapped which I happily took and roasted and ate every after school. These went on for a long time and usually it was the same specie of bird that got trapped. For some funny reason in my childhood calculating mind this started sending the why question to my mind. I began to be afraid that I was the only one who ate that type of bird and alone. So one day I invited another boy to share my meat. As if by spell, that was the last time I trapped a bird. I began to blame myself for having been so stupid as to invite somebody to my daily feast I was provided by some supreme power somewhere. It was useless regretting I never trapped a bird again, at least not the way I did and at the place I did.

One of the days, which are still vivid in my mind, was when I fell from a wild berries shrub I climbed to feed myself on them. I had learnt to climb trees without a problem. This particular day I did not realise the branch I climbed on was not so strong and it broke sending me full force down. I fell first through the sharp thorns big shrub and I think I also had a brief moment of unconsciousness. I was alone and had to drag my painful and bruised body home. It took me about a week to heal during which time I did not go to school more for fear of being laughed at by other children than for pain. Staying at home did not mean the bruises were given medical attention they just healed naturally and I went back to school.
Another accident that happened, when I was milking a cow for a certain family in village. I do not know what angered the cow because it was not the first time I milked it, but it kicked me on the chest as I was approaching and sent me flying to the kraal entrance, a deep scare on my left leg was caused by collision with a rusty zinc which was also used as a door. I was seriously wounded and stayed for a long time with out the wound being treated except I just smearing grease and it caused a lot of infection and could not heal.

During all these times I was still continuing with my schooling. One of my favorite activities we did at school was music. I had started singing in the choir when a was in sub – B (Grade 1). This was to be one of the talents that were to be with me even in my adulthood. One day at school I argued with a teacher over a Xhosa word. I argued vehemently although I came to learn that the teacher was right. The day I was punished at school because I was caught smoking and I was sent to shop by the principal to buy for myself a packet of tobacco and he said that I should smoke the whole packet in front of other children and every time when I felt dizzy and vomiting, he would beat me and forced me to continue smoking and I thought that I would never smoke again, but this punishment never stopped me from smoking and I voluntarily stop in 1981 when I learnt that the smoke is dangerous for my health.

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Autobiography of Thobile Maso©Tobile Maso 2007

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