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How I found out my sister was my mother - Marah Louw

My mother was sitting on the ground next to the grave when she cried, 'Hawu! Teboho, are you now planning to cover this grave with a stone before I join my husband?'
Shortly after, she took ill and was admitted at Baragwanath Hospital, where she died on August 19 1994.
Arrangements had to be altered - instead of unveiling my father's tombstone on August 27 as planned, we buried my mother. The most profound thing is that my father died on August 15 1991 and my mother on August 19 1994.
When some people came to pay their respects, they referred to my mother as my grandmother. My quest for the truth was reignited.
I hit a brick wall of denials but then Trueblue (my sister) came to me in a dream. S he said: "Hamba uye eBoomplaas, inyani iseBoomplaas."
The dream stayed with me for a while and I knew I had to act . I demanded an advanced shooting schedule for Muvhango so I could plan a trip to Boomplaas.
At my sister Trueblue's funeral in 1972, some people had expressed their condolences at the passing of my mother too. I found these comments unsettling. Ineeded to find the truth about people insinuating that Trueblue was my mother.
One of the things black families can do, and do very well, is keep secrets. My probing intensified. I visited family members and questioned them about Trueblue.
When I asked whether it was true that she was my mother, they reacted with shock, dismissing me as crazy to even suggest that. One day in the early 1980s, I did a show in Vereeniging and went to sleep at my cousin Nomandla's place afterwards. Some of my other cousins were there, as was my brother Sidu Louw, and he had been drinking as usual.
I cannot remember how we came to this subject but he suddenly told me that the day my father died I should not even think of inheriting his things because he, Sidu, was the rightful heir to Mokgethi's (my father) estate.
He carried on, adding that I was, after all, the child of Mokgethi's daughter Mabasotho - "Wena Teboho ungu mntana wentombi."
The next day I went home and locked myself in my room, crying. My mother asked me what had happened and I told her I wanted a meeting with the family.
One Saturday we gathered in the lounge and I broke the news about what happened in Vereeniging. I told them I wanted to know the truth about Trueblue . After what felt like forever, my cousin Madikgwedi told me to stop searching for something that was not true.
She said what I had heard from Sidu was a lie and that it was an insult to my parents and the family. She told me never to listen to someone who was permanently under the influence of alcohol or who wanted to disturb the peace in our family.
Weeks later I visited Madikgwedi, who would have been the same age as Trueblue. Madikgwedi's son Khoza is the same age as I. I asked her how it was possible that my mother, Macindi, could have had her first child in 1934 when she was 23, and then fallen pregnant with me 18 years later in 1952, at the age of 41.
She was stunned by my question but tried to convince me otherwise. I was not convinced.
I visited as many other family members as I could, even the Nkolongwanes, on my mother's side. Everyone gave me the run around.
Some were not even prepared to discuss the matter. After my father died in 1991, my mother started to become confused and forgetful.
Out of the blue she would ask me: "Kanene Teboho uMabasotho ukufumanele kwisibhedlela sakwaNokuphila na?" (Teboho, did Mabasotho give birth to you at Nokuphila Hospital?)
I'd ask her what she meant. Was she confirming that Mabasotho Trueblue was indeed my real mother?
This is an extract from Marah Louw's autobiography titled It's Me Marah. Available at all major book stores. It retails at R250.

Marah gives fans front row seat into theatre of her life

Legendary music icon Marah Louw has written a tell-all book, giving fans front-row seats into the theatre of her life.
"Show business as we know it is very unpredictable. For a few years I was the talk of the town. It was getting hard to go shopping without being mobbed," she says.
With a career spanning more than 40 years, Louw is counted among South Africa's musical and entertainment industry royalty and has a powerful, memorable story to tell.
Her book is the reader's front-row ticket to the joys, sadnesses, triumphs and setbacks that have been part of this legend's life.
Even though she is a celebrity, she says her story aims to show that stars, no matter how bright, are human too. It also delves into her family secrets and her search for the truth.
Louw has had an illustrious career. She performed at the Mandela Concert at London's Wembley Stadium and sang at the Newsmaker of the Year Awards presented to Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. She also sang in honour of the late Chris Hani.
She appeared with Mandela during his visit to Glasgow in 1993 and sang at George Square and The Royal Concert Hall.
In 1994, she sang at Mandela's inauguration and Freedom Day Celebrations at the Union Buildings.
In 2001, she produced the successful musical Surf, which featured top South African artists, including Hugh Masekela.
Louw translated the music of The Lion King into Zulu for the Walt Disney Corporation and performed the theme song Circle of Life in Zulu.
She was also an Idols judge from 2003 until 2010, and had the lead role in Muvhango.
She has acted in numerous musicals, stage plays and feature films. She is currently featuring in the Mzansi Magic telenovela The Queen.
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