Remembering Moses

April 25, 2012 — 4 Comments

Kwazulu-Natal-tree, Durban, South-AfricaMtuseni is traveling to the rural province of Kwazulu Natal this weekend to hold a memorial ritual for his brother Moses, who died last September.

I never got a chance to meet Moses. On my trip to Johannesburg this winter, the first thing Nester showed me was a photo shrine she had set up for her eldest son. It felt like, after meeting the little ones Bongeka and Musa, she wanted this new figure in her family’s life to know an important member they had recently lost. He was a strong, handsome kid standing tall and proud before the camera. We laughed at her album with pictures of Moses and Mtuseni as adorable little kids growing up. Two brothers only a few years apart in age. I never had a brother, but I know it can be a special and complex bond.

Mtuseni had frustrations with his older brother, who was unemployed and “a drunk” in Mtuseni’s words. He was angry that his mother made him miss church one Sunday last fall to help Moses build an addition to their shack for him to sleep in. A week later, drunk and with some friends, Moses was hit by a car while trying to cross the highway. Mtuseni pointed out the spot to me on the way to his settlement.

No job, limited education, alcoholic, killed by a car — all quite common in South Africa. He was only 22, what should be the most vibrant time of a person’s life, full of promise and possibility. But like millions of his peers, Moses lived in a world of stark poverty with scant options to succeed.

My aim in supporting Mtuseni through college is to open up a range of new opportunities for him, and to break the family’s cycle of poverty. I am only one person helping one person. For now, I do what I can. I know I will want to do more, and this is a potent internal voice as I weigh career transitions.

So while the Mdletshe family holds their traditional Zulu ritual this weekend to mark the passing of the eldest child, I will set aside some time myself to reflect on the huge place this family has in my heart. And to remember Moses.

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4 responses to Remembering Moses


    OK, now I have to go get a kleenex damn you. Seriously.



    I constantly spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s content all the time along with
    a mug of coffee.


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Twenty-One « Long-Distance Dad - August 20, 2014

    […] Moses is gone now, and Mtuseni is the man of the family. He’s weeks away from finishing his last semester of school and ready to pound the Johannesburg pavement in search of an internship so he can graduate next June. When he was here, Mtuseni said that wearing a tie for his US visa interview (at my insistence) had inspired him to create a new look. “No more t-shirts,” he told me. “No more kid stuff.” So we passed by the tables of hip tees that I usually send to him and looked at chinos and button-down Oxfords and dressy shoes. We came home and he tried everything on, reveling in his own personal fashion show and sartorial upgrade. It was cool to see the transformation and his enthusiasm, though I will admit to some mixed emotions. […]


  2. Rounding the Turn « Long-Distance Dad - August 20, 2014

    […] her continuing support for both him and me. And the ongoing money challenges, health scares, and family tragedies which I’ve learned come with the territory of Mtuseni’s life in […]


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