One of the reasons many South Africans are drawn to local soapies is the fact that they can relate to them on so many levels. The plot twist that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats is often closer to home than what many choose to make public.
Many people discover they have siblings or other family connections only later in their lives when they’re old enough to understand, and sometimes they do so accidentally.
Hopewell Mpapu’s mother died in 2001 and it wasn’t until September 2015 that he discovered he had an older brother. “I discovered my older brother via Facebook,” Mpapu told DESTINY. “I saw that my younger brother and I had a mutual Facebook friend who looked just like our mother. It turns out we’d been friends on Facebook since 2010 but hadn’t made contact. We decided to meet up a few weeks later and I felt no resentment. In fact, I was happy.”
Mpapu says he was never officially told about his estranged brother.
“Before her passing, my mother would speak about him to her friends, and I’d listen in,” he adds. “Nothing was confirmed. I just knew his name but knew nothing else about him.”
“My brother and I have a great relationship. Although I wish we’d met earlier in our lives, I suppose the timing is beyond any of our control, so I’m just grateful that we eventually got to know each other.”
We’re often taught that it isn’t a child’s place to ask questions. You simply have to accept what is. Can secrets of this magnitude have detrimental effects on an individual’s growth?
*Pako Molefe was 15 years old when he discovered that the father he grew up knowing wasn’t his biological father. “I had always sort of felt out of place, and one day my mother sat me down and confirmed why I was feeling that way,” says Molefe. “Then she broke the news. For me, this explained why I felt rejected and unappreciated. But I needed to get over it really fast because I was young and still dependent on this man for survival.”
“My way of dealing with the whole situation was very different,” Molefe adds. “My mother always used to say that because of my silence, they never knew what or how I was feeling or dealing with things. It’s never really been an issue. I haven’t felt a need to find my real father, so perhaps I haven’t dealt with it as yet. But I don’t harbour any feelings of resentment. It’s just not an issue for me.”
Once the secret is out, measures should be put in place to facilitate the relationship if all parties wish to pursue one.
*Sarah Dlamini met her sister Mapula (42) 10 years ago, when Dlamini had just turned 19.
“Before my dad met my mom, he had another family,” she says. “My mother mentioned once in passing that my dad had two other kids,” says Dlamini. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d meet them.”
“When I was 18, I missed a family funeral and my cousin came back from the funeral with a piece of paper with contact numbers written down in pen. She explained to me that Mapula had tried to get hold of me for years, so when I eventually called her, she could not stop crying.”
Dlamini says it’s easier to track down family members now than before because of social media.
“Mapula and I are the spitting image of one another,” she adds. “And when I go to church with her, people often think I’m her daughter. Then we have to explain from the start.”
According to Dlamini, Mapula was a godsend. She offered her a place to stay in 2005 when her flat had burnt down, but this soon took strain on their relationship.
“Our relationship didn’t work out living under one roof and I decided to move out, unfortunately on a bad note. Three years ago, our relationship picked up again. But one thing is certain, she’s the best thing that could have happened to me. My mother taught me a lot but there’s so much I learnt from my sister.”