My brother Morapedi
Blog by McFarlane Moleli
I’m writing this as my memory of my late brother Morapeli Moleli, and my thoughts stem from what has transpired this past week! I am told my brother was known as Morgan Sibasa while in exile, this was the name given to him as an underground operative. He was a member of The PAC and strongly believed in the teachings and principles of APLA.
He disappeared in 1990 and we never knew what had happened to him. We thought he was dead, as no trace of him could be found and no one knew where he was. We asked his friends, teachers, schoolmates and girlfriend, but no one could give us answers, and he was gone.
We lived in Sebokeng Zone 14 at the time. I shared a bedroom with him. I am trying to recall what it was like in those days, while also trying to recall events of those years. I realise that the only memories I can go to, are of what he had left me. I remember the few items which are stuck in my mind – these are his black consciousness books of Steve Biko, Marcus Garvey and some notes on Zeph Mothopeng, as well as the writings of Robert Sobukwe. We also had a yellow poster with the Freedom Charter which was stuck on our bedroom door. I never took that poster down, I always fell asleep looking at it and wondering if those ideals would ever culminate into reality. This is all I remember.
I was only 10 years old when he left, yet he was my hero because he had stood up against the evil that was apartheid. I never really understood what was going on, as I had always been in multi-racial private schools, and white people were ok, some of them were my best friends. However I knew that some of them didn’t like us, in fact I knew that they hated us so much that they even killed us and imprisoned us for being black. Furthermore, I knew that the government thought it was ok because white people are allowed to do that. This was all very confusing because these people I hated, which had caused my brother to go away, were teaching me laughing with me and sometimes even letting me into their homes to play with their children.
My brother never said goodbye to me, my sister or my parents; I think he knew that by saying goodbye he may put our lives in danger. I guess because he also already knew police were looking for “comrades” like him, he had to leave discretely.
Our family never ever spoke about it, we never touched the subject we never asked where he was, and I stopped running to the door every time there was a knock hoping that my dear brother was alive and back home!
His disappearance destroyed my mother. I cannot imagine what she went through, as a parent to have a child just disappear without a trace, not knowing whether they are dead or alive.
She had lost her first born son – the first born boy of the Moleli Family. Gone! My father showed no emotion, nothing, he never spoke about it. He did not discuss it with even his closest friends and we never dared ask him about it. He shut my brother’s departure out totally. His disappearance caused my beautiful mom to age; I would hear her cry every night as she prayed for his return. Even the relationship with my dad was strained as she never understood why we didn’t search harder for my beloved brother.
I think it was in 1994 that all of a sudden my father searched everywhere for my brother, embassy to embassy he went, asking, probing and wanting to know where his son was. He asked the PAC, ANC, UDM, everyone, where my brother was. He wanted to know this because he never returned with the other exiles that were coming back following CODESA negotiations. We were all surprised at this search and our hope returned that maybe my brother was still alive and could be found.
By this time we had moved from Sebokeng and were now living in a lilly white suburb of Bedworth Park in Vanderbijlpark.
One December morning, I woke up during the holidays to find that my dad may have found a lead and he had left early that day. So the whole day I stood at the gate and once again that hope had returned and I longed to hopefully see my brother again. My mother was in the kitchen and had started to cook something; I could see the joy the cheer and the light return to my mother’s face. My sister started to recollect how my brother was, how he would tease her, all of his war stories and the things he used to get up to. I just waited and nervously kept going to the gate and in to the street waiting for my fathers white BMW 316i to come into the gate.
It was at about 2 or 3pm when I saw my father’s car coming down the street and I ran towards it. I could not wait to see him and everything about him raced through my mind because it was all so surreal. And as daddy pulled into the yard I looked through the cars window and there he was, my brother, Abuti Morapeli was alive and dad had found him. When my father opened his door he was crying, it was the first time I had ever seen my father cry. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he was smiling at the same time as he had found his son. I held onto my brother for dear life, I could not believe that my hero was back. Our family had a soldier and he had now returned home. We had our freedom because people like him had sacrificed with their lives for us to gain our freedom. My brother was alive and he was back home.
I am telling you this so that you get a glimpse of what the system did to families, how it destroyed our joy. How it polarised husbands and wives and killed family ties. Apartheid and the system that was engineered by the government did more than just separate blacks and whites. It created an ingrained hatred for white people because of what it did to our lives. My family was never the same after my brother left, my mom and dad had an incredibly strained relationship because of apartheid. I hated white people for what the system did to our lives. I was forced by my parents to go to school with the enemies that had taken away my brother from us.
Yet we forgave you, we forgave you and we never burnt your homes to ashes, we never expressed our hatred violently and killed you all in your suburbs. We continued to work for you and alongside you. We played sport with you, we live amongst you and we tolerate you because we are not barbaric. We are not animals, we forgave you, I forgave you. Even my brother who had as an APLA slogan “1 settler 1 bullet forgave you.
My brother returned on the 28th of December 1994, my father died on the 8th of January 1995 exactly 11 days after he had found my brother. They are both gone now, and I wonder what they would have said to Penny Sparrow, Justin van Vuuren, Chris Hart and all the other racists that still think that its ok to call us animals, the K-word and barbarians.
We forgave you even through all the pain suffering humiliation and hatred that you still put us through we forgave you. However I warn you, we have not forgotten. Don’t think that for one single second we have forgotten. My brother was willing to die for me to be where I am. I am willing to die for his efforts to forever remain. That is of a free Azania where black and white live together harmoniously. Amandla Awethu!