THOUGHT PIECES




This morning as I drove to work, I pulled off by the roadside, and there wasn't anything wrong with my car at all. I had been listening to "I look to you" being sung by R Kelly at Whitney 's funeral. I had heard the song before but this time around it drilled deeper, causing me to reflect on my life journey.

I recalled all the adversities that one has undergone and thought to myself, maybe this is perhaps the best time to look back and appreciate. Appreciate that the Higher Powers took care of me; gave me strength when I left my mom in bed lying there sick with a plate of food by her side covered in a net only to find the food untouched when I came back from school in the evening; when I had to walk my young brother to school almost to his class to protect him from the bullies; when I had no food to school and the little we had, making sure it went to him as he was young and perhaps would need them more. I also recalled how the world seemed a bit dry from the inside with every family member being absent, including my dad who would show up one evening per month and leave the following morning in dark hours. Maybe that is why I have undying love for my daughters, I am not sure how my mom and young brother felt about this, but it pierced to the core of my heart for me that I would want to hold him back and ask of him to stay some more, the world wasn't a comfortable place for us, we needed him.

Through it all, the Lord was watching and taking care of us.

Going to varsity was lovely, my mom had recovered from her illness, and my dad was more present in our lives. There weren’t much funds, but I managed to survive on R273 per month, which was the change that left after paying my R727 rent, but the growing home warmth kept going. I got a bursary, informed my parents, they celebrated with me and then off they went. 30th August 2005 was my dad, 24th of February 2006 was my mom both saying their unexpected goodbyes as if they were waiting on the news of possible life sustenance of their boys in their absence. I mean how could they, we only had them, literally just them since they were both foreigners in South Africa.

At this point, one had more than enough excuses to tap-out and declare failure in life and start feeling sorry for themselves. I looked at Thato and promised that everything would be ok. Unfortunately, the world doesn't give any worthy incentives for such tragedies. The worst that got me in tears was when Thato got diagnosed with TB; what had taken my mom away, I just couldn’t handle any more loss.

It’s been almost two years over a decade now, and as I look back, I am reflecting on the survival and then eventually the winning tactics that one applied. I think that someone out there needs them more than I do now since I have mastered them. I am a Mining Engineer with a bachelor’s and a Postgraduate degree in Mining, most recent qualification being the Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the No.1 Business school in Africa, Harvard affiliated. My career has been amazing to date, and I have found myself in amazing places being part of the key decision makers and being responsible for part of the organisations future.

I remember asking someone to proof-read my life story for my Human Behavior submission, and they were in tears during and after they had read it. I had to comfort them, but I just couldn’t afford even a slightest chance to join them in "their" crying because I could only focus on the destination, self-pity wasn’t going to get me there. I remember experiencing difficulties in my career with people who are just there to make life difficult; they are necessary by the way. I would look at them straight in the eyes as if I will say something profound...I would instead say it to myself, "You aren't part of the future I desire, I, therefore, won't allow you to stand on my way, and you definitely aren't good enough to make me quit"... the actions that followed said that better than I could have put it in words.

Pulling my car off the road this morning was when I realised that I had achieved a couple of milestones, with many still to go, but yet I felt that maybe this time around, I can look back and weep on all those experiences since they were worthy of my tears, besides I had denied myself my human rights for too long, that is to cry when in pain. I looked where I came from and where I was heading. I looked at my wallpapers on my phones, and I had a beautiful, smart, well accomplished and a future star wife, I had two beautiful, intelligent daughters, I had Thato all grown up, I had…. the list is endless… but I knew the time to weep was now as I celebrate these milestones. I closed my eyes and thanked God and said this... “I look to you”.

In the past and it took a community to raise a child, I am that child, and I thank all those who brought-up this child. I have had my near-death experiences, and the only rationale I could make out of the “too-many-second-chances” was that God didn’t want me until my purpose is served.

Now the intention is for the child to give back to this community and beyond. Helping people by giving themselves permission to dream and achieve those dreams amidst all their adversities is my mission.

Allow me to awaken the giant in you.

Watch this space.

Regards
Bokang Kelepa

I never said my goodbyes - “Delayed Post.”

I must admit I didn’t have the guts to - This is to all my Anglo American Ex-colleagues and anybody who may be interested...

The calling took the prize.

As I part ways with Anglo, I would like to draw a picture that most men and women will resonate with. I was 18 when I met her. I came to her, but she made me feel like she was the one who had come to me. When we met I was living on a R273 stipend, but she didn't care about that, she was futuristic, she saw what I could become more than what I was. She helped me, paid my fees, gave me work experience and connected me with the world. She had a considerable reputation, I mean her name was Miss World, and everyone knew her. But yet she took a chance, placed her life, her status and part of her future in my hands. Sometimes I would push my luck a bit and ask for more than what she had promised, she would say yes and then continue to support me.

She took me from levels to levels, believed in me. When I called, she would answer, even though sometimes she would take what I assumed was long, but she would eventually. Before I knew it, she was part of my DNA. Other ladies would come offering more than what she gave. I remember how I would say my "no's" for what she was promising was much better than that of others. Damn was she not lying, in eight years she had given me what I almost consider a lifetime of experience. She took me from one school to the next, allowing me to be away from her, trusting that I would come back and won't meet others better than her. She would even find ways to survive as I would be absent and could not fulfil my responsibilities.

Not only did she take me through my undergrad education, but she took me through three post-grads certificates, gave me exposure to the Underground, opencast mining and projects world. Although others would think I was young, and I was not to be trusted with the responsibility of being in charge of this reputable Miss World, she gave me a chance and let herself into my hands for me to do as I please.

The peculiar thing about this whole thing is she made me feel special like, I was the only one. She never made me think that there was a potential substitute on standby. One day I decided to raise my eyes behind those doors I had knocked on, and she had opened. Inside that "opportunity room" I realised that not only was it so huge, but I also wasn't alone. There were so many of us, and all of us walked with the poise that we were the only one, you could see that this lady was doing a great job keeping us happy.

When I realised that I was not the only one, I was about to make a proposal and put a ring on this lady's ring finger. To be together until death did us apart, for better or worse but I realised that's just how she treated everyone, or should I instead say everyone who was in that room with me. I was told not to be confused as that's how she has been like over a century and there were no indications of that changing. She wasn't mine alone; she was ours, her idea was not to build me but to build the community. Her contribution to me wasn't the only contribution she made; there were others as well. She wouldn’t have said “yes” to me as she was on a mission beyond her own self-interests.

Today as I leave, I know that I have been exposed to true love and as I walk through the life journey I will be able to recognise when love isn't real, and I shall adjust my sails accordingly. I am hoping that I will create the environment that rewards all for the hard work and recognising the extra miles they have taken. She has taught me well, and I believe my toolbox is complete.

As I leave, some may be wondering what's the cause after describing this lady as flawless. I have always known that there is something that I was ought to do, something beyond a hobby, passion, or purpose but rather a calling. I have decided to answer to that calling and give it as much attention as possible as I didn't have a choice, but to listen to the one who placed it in me, the Creator.

Thank you, Anglo American, for the thirteen faithful years, I really felt like the only one. I will miss you and all the people that you carry. Please do make them feel special as well. I am sure our paths will cross someday.

Regards

An Anglo infested DNA

Bokang Kelepa



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