Endings and Beginnings by Redi Tlhabi
Endings and Beginnings – this book took me on an emotional roller-coaster, as I walked with Redi through her written words, back into her past during the appalling era of apartheid. Redi is only eleven years old at that time, just two years after losing her beloved father.
It is not long before she meets the dreaded and loathed, gangster of the neighborhood of Orlando East in Soweto. Mabegzo, whom she thought would rape her; if she were to make eye contact (rape during those days was an inevitable part of a girl’s or woman’s life). The complete opposite occurred when the two met. The 11 year old Redi was charmed more than anything by Mabegzo. She found herself completely drawn to him.
Being taken through the journey of Mabegzo, from how he was once an innocent child who wanted to be loved and accepted, to how he turned into a hardcore gangster. Such sunk my heart into deep sadness. Mabegzo was not born a gangster; it was the circumstances around his conception that made the world such a cold place for him. He was a product of rape, his mother was gang raped at the tender age of 15, thus making him an outcast.
Making matters worse Mabegzo’s mother was never to even smell justice in retribution to her traumatic ordeal, the matter was just brushed aside as per the norm of that day. The three boys, who raped her merely, got a hiding from the police and that was the end of the matter. All of this ruthless evil was just too much for Mabegzo’s mother Imelda. She later moved to Lesotho with her son against the wishes of her mother.
Her aunt Mme Moipone was the only ally that almost came close to understanding what she needed. The elders of the day were intent on adding to her grief, her shame and the inhumane ill-treatment she had become accustomed to in the community of Soweto. Imelda’s mother for some twisted and senile reason decided to go after them in Lesotho, having found that Imelda was now happily married to a respectable man of royalty in Lesotho, she stole Imelda’s son from her aunt Mme Moipone.
She must have been sent by the devil himself because as soon as Mabegzo had arrived in Soweto, he knew nothing but hatred and ridicule that no five year old should ever have to experience. She claimed to have loved Mabegzo, but her way of loving meant to be clothed and fed only. Mabegzo’s own grandfather would not once utter a single word to him, an outcast even amongst his own family. A leaper would even have been treated better.
Though Mabegzo was such a horrible man in his later years, raping innocent women and even killing as well as stealing at a whim, I could not help but feel such an attachment to this man, such pity. I wonder even now how his life might have turned out should he have grown up under love and warmth. Though I feel for all of the men and women that may have crossed his violent path I can’t help but pardon him for all of the pain he was forced to endure through his short life.
There’s nothing charming about Mabegzo as the book says on its cover. If you are into emotionally draining roller coasters and want to feel dreadful as well as enraged about the consistent crime especially against those without any means to protect themselves in South Africa, namely women and children. The irony in this book is that the same child that was once a victim to crude and despicable ill-treatment becomes a monster that is feared and hated by all who know and utter his name.
Price : R200 – from Exclusive Books.