Letter to Thakangoaha Thaks Makoa

13 July 2019 | Young, scared but curious, we sat quietly in the taxi to Mohale’s Hoek. It was January 1994 our first day in Grade R. He was somewhat very fragile, he cried a lot (over everything actually) and most times I didn’t understand why (what a lie!). I tried not to judge (because I too cried quietly behind the building), but hug and support him because we were both so very young. A year later we went to boarding school in a small town (Wepener) in the Free State.

As if he wasn’t stressed enough by being away from home the previous year, we were shipped off to boarding school where we were away from home for days on end. His parents picked him up every weekend and he cried every Sunday when he came back, which was painful to watch. Years later he went to a few new schools- Brebner, Saint Andrew’s School and then the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, South Africa. There was something special about Bloemfontein that he loved; perhaps he felt at home there.

Our friendship grew stronger over the years and we hardly ever fought. We had a few disagreements here and there, but generally, we were good. Family trips, parties and after parties, we always looked out for each other; making sure we each got home safely. He was very shy around girls, but I tried to connect and hook him up with the girls I knew (wingman and all). His confidence got better with time and he started introducing me to the special ladies in his life, he no longer needed my assistance.

Academically he worked hard and was competitive on the sports field. He was a gentle soul, stubborn and hard-headed all at once. He loved unconditionally and if he believed in you, absolutely nothing could change his mind. I was fortunate because he believed in me like you can’t imagine. This guy thought I was THE smartest guy and I never understood why. I remember how he told my classmates how smart I was when I got to St Andrew’s school in Bloemfontein in 2004. Talk about putting me under pressure and drawing attention to me (but that’s a story for another day). He constantly sang my praises, after Matric in 2006 and again when I finished my first degree at the University of Pretoria. Thaks celebrated and loved his friends.

13 July 2018 | I receive a WhatsApp message and immediately I call back. The phone rings and there is uncontrollable sobbing. Yes, I had indeed lost my brother- in the most brutal way possible. Confused and emotional I called my parents to verify and they too confirmed a story I wasn’t ready to deal with. Trying not to relive the painful story all over again, allow me to tell you just how’s amazing this guy was.

Thaks was a man of peace and hard work. Besides believing I was the smartest guy on planet Earth, he was supportive of my crazy dreams and told me to go after them when I doubted myself. I remember our conversation in 2011, walking down the streets of Mafeteng. I had just told him that my dream was to start a business that people would relate to, a business that could help people live better lives. In my words, I wanted to be a ” motivational speaker” (ludicrous!) “. He looked at me and in his quiet and calm demeanor, he said why don’t you do it? I paused to process what he just said… he had just validated my dream and said I could do it. Coming from him, I had no excuse not to. And he always asked me how far I was with making this dream a reality.

Another special moment in our friendship was when he invited me to his graduation lunch. He was super excited about getting his degree in psychology and shared how difficult a journey this was. But Thaks, always finished whatever he started, no matter how difficult it was. He achieved his goals- fitness, sports and academic goals. Initially, he enrolled to study law, but dropped it along the way, because things weren’t going as planned. After finishing his psychology degree, he enrolled at the University of South Africa (UNISA) to get his law degree. We talked often about how the studies were going and I could feel his passion and excitement, more so when he shared that he got a few distinctions. He didn’t give up and stayed the course.

Of great significance was his decision to stay in Mafeteng and work in the family business. For as long as I could remember, Thaks was not interested in the family business; but something changed. He saw the potential Of this place and committed to it. He could literally be anywhere in the world, but he chose to stay in Mafeteng. He loved it here, he loved the people and he saw potential. He loved being home and was big on family! He met a girl, fell in love and nothing you said would convince otherwise- he was proud of Mafeteng. He took it further and launched his business and monetized his passion for fitness and wellness. He employed a few people and brought joy to the citizens of Mafeteng. Yes, he truly loved Mafeteng.

The last few months have been difficult, especially when I need to drive to Mafeteng. Today is particularly difficult because all I wanted to do was text him and tell him how amazing this experience is, how much traction I’ve made in terms of the dream we spoke about so many years ago. But it hit me again that he is no more. Instead of crying, I decided to write this blogpost and remind everyone who is missing him today and who is hurting just how amazing Thaks was. I decided to use this blog to celebrate him and all he has done or said to make us better people: and hopefully smooth our hurting hearts.

Thaks loved unconditionally, we too should love everyone unconditionally. Thaks believed in people and their potential, let us encourage those around us to do more, be more and follow their dreams. Thaks loved his community and family, let’s make amends with our families and give back to our communities. It’s painful, but he left us valuable lessons that we can use to honor his memory. Rest In Peace my brother and know that you will never be forgotten.

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