The Qaphela Gobodo Story

Qaphela Gobodo.
15 years old lad from a humble background in Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa.
But with a dream that was as tall as a steeple.
One of the most hardworking lads that the creator ever carved out of the dust of Wellington.
His biggest dream in life was to be a professional rugby player.
To play for Springboks.
That was the linchpin of his life!
And damn, did the young man throw his whole life force into it?
Yeah, he did!
And the results were quite alarming.
He was destined for great things.
He was the greatest rugby player in his school in Bergriver.
He became the first black captain of his school’s rugby team, and the first black student to play in the team.
He was the pride of Bergriver rugby team.
And then, his hard work brought him in very close proximity of his dream.
The big dream of playing for Springboks.
He won a rugby scholarship to Hoerskool Garsfontein, one of the most prestigious schools in Pretoria.
Through this scholarship his dream of making it to Springboks would be realized.
Family were proud.
He would be the light of the tribe.
The custodian of immortality.
And then he shared the news to his teammates, “Hey, guys, I’m one step away from Springboks! The dream is happening…”
But what he could not interpret was the jealousy that was hidden in their hearts.
Then one fateful afternoon, he took an excuse from class to go to the bathroom.
And while coming outside from there, a group of four boys attacked him.
One hit him with a golf stick on his head, and he fell into unconsciousness on the floor.
Then they poured paraffin on him, and set him ablaze.
They burnt him alive!
He lay on the ground for several minutes without knowing that he was burning alive.
And no one saw him.
When he regained consciousness several minutes later, he ran towards the principal’s office screaming for help.
With his body still on fire.
And everyone scared of getting close to him.
But he ran to the tap, opened it and went under it.
To subdue the fire.
And ambulance was called to take him to the hospital.
Everyone gave up on him. The burns were too severe and no one thought he could make it.
When his father saw him, he broke down in tears and said, “So, my son, you’re going to leave me at such a young age?”
When his sister saw him, she stood afar in tears and cried, “No, this is not my brother. This is not my brother… I want to see my brother.”
But Qaphela replied them, “Don’t be scared, I’m not going to die. No, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to live, and I’m going to come back and play rugby.”
And God heard the faith of that brave lad.
Because if a man’s faith says “Yeah” even God Himself cannot say “Nay” to him.
20 surgeries were the number of surgeries he underwent in a space of four months.
Now the shocker!
Do you know the people that burnt Qaphela?
His teammates!
Though he couldn’t remember their faces after the shock of the attack.
The same friends he had shared the good news of his scholarship with.
The same friends he had shared his dream of Springboks with.
The same friends he thought were happy with him.
When he returned from the hospital, the scholarship was gone!
The dream of Springboks faded away.
Even though he tried to give himself to rugby again.
But things were never the same again
His scars would never allow him to have that dream again.

Because of friends he trusted with his secrets.
But then…his story has continued to touch the heart of a generation
Redefining the concept of trust for millions of people across Africa and beyond.
During one of his interviews, Qaphela said that his biggest mistake in life was learning too late that it is not every secret that is supposed to be shared with friends.
This is life!
And in life, we have to be careful of the kind of success stories we share with friends.
Especially when those successes are not yet mature.
Because the truth is, not every friend is going to be happy with your success, even though they might pretend to be in your presence.
Not every friend is happy that you are going farther than them in life.
Many friends see you as a competitor, and once they see that you have gone ahead of them, they begin to hate on you.
And start looking for ways to bring you down.
It’s a messed up world.
It’s alright to trust people.
But then, learn to keep your secrets to yourself.
Sometimes, you don’t have to tell people the plans you are making in life when those plans are still at early stages.
We will never be able to know who truly wishes us well, and who don’t.
For the ones we call best friends might actually be the biggest enemies we have around us.
Never let your guard down.
Never trust someone so deeply to the level that you give them the power to destroy you.
If they know all your secrets, then they can destroy you.
Write me a poem, Li… About the unknown enemies we call friends!

©Richard Henshaw

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