Endings & Beginnings
A Story of Healing
Redi Tlhabi, warm-hearted, charismatic and loved throughout South Africa, is as well known for her 702 and Cape Talk radio show as she is for her TV performances and Sunday Times newspaper column. In this astonishing debut, Endings & Beginnings, she makes the painful journey back to her death-marred childhood, a journey in which she eventually finds peace and allows her demons to rest.
“Mabegzo’s place in my life is an uncomfortable space. The hypocrisy of my feelings for him has mauled my emotions for many years. I would think of him and my heart would swell with warmth, longing and regret and, immediately, disgust at myself for feeling this way. This would be followed by making excuses for myself: I was a little girl, I did not know, I was mourning my father and perhaps responded to the first male who showed me any kindness and warmth.”
When Redi Tlhabi is eleven years old, two years after her father’s death, she meets the handsome, charming and smooth Mabegzo. A rumoured gangster, murderer and rapist, he is a veritable ‘jack-roller’ of the neighbourhood. Against her family’s wishes, she develops a strong connection to him. Redi herself doesn’t understand why she is drawn to Mabegzo and why, at eleven, she feels a brokenness that only Mabegzo can fix.
Endings & Beginnings is Redi’s emotional journey back into her past to finally humanise this man whose hollowness mirrored her own and who was hated and abhorred by so many when he was alive. Through interviews and deep emotional conversations with his family, friends and those who knew him, Redi finally gets to fit together the pieces of the puzzle that was Mabegzo. Her revelations do not in any way excuse who and what he was, but they go a long way in shedding light on the scourge that is violence in our societies and why young black men are consumed by anger.
One Saturday afternoon, I was on my way home from the church youth meeting when I saw Mabegzo. He had his back to me and didn’t see me approach. I saw him twist a girl’s arm and then slap her across the face.
‘Mabegzo, o etsang!? What are you doing!?’
He froze, and the girl took flight.
‘O etsa eng?’
I stormed off and ignored him as he called out my name. He ran after me and tried to speak to me as I made my way home. He remained at my side even though I maintained a stony silence. We reached the corner of my street and he said goodbye, promising to wait for me at our corner on Monday.
‘Don’t wait for me. You’re a rapist and you hit girls! I saw you.’
He did wait for me. And when he smiled, I was conflicted again. He seemed unsure of himself. Often he would walk confidently towards me as I approached the corner. This time, he remained rooted to the spot, hesitating, waiting for me to invite him back into my life. His pleading eyes found something deep inside my soul, and without pausing to think, I said, ‘Why are you standing there? Let’s go.’
– Endings & Beginnings
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