About the author – Thulani Gumede
Thulani ‘Yeyeye’ Gumede was born on the 13th of March in 1984. He spent the first four years of his life between Nseleni and KwaSokhulu. In 1988, after losing his dad to sickness, he moved with his family to Esikhaleni where he started schooling at Mandosi Primary School.
At an early age, he was bombarded with hard questions of life as he tried to understand why his family was poor, and without a father. In 1993 and 1994, Thulani couldn’t go to school due to his mom’s sickness which rendered her unable to afford school fees for all her children. She had to make the decision to send only one child to school, and siThulani’s sister, Rose, was older, she got to go to school.
Thulani has made a monumental effort to forget the pain and suffering of the past, but there is one thing that he still remembers clearly and that was the day he saw his mother badly cut by a broken bottle while looking for food and clothing in a dump site. “That was the only time in my life I wished I was older and a man,” he recalls, “I just couldn’t stand seeing my mom in that state.”
In 1994, Thulani moved to Stanger (KwaDukuza) to stay with his brother and also to baby-sit his niece. Though he hated school when he started in 1990, he did not want to be left behind while all his friends attended school. In 1995, Thulani was registered in Aldenville Primary School in Groutville. Here, Thulani started discovering some of the talents that were hidden inside of him, including his love for reading and drawing.
After excelling at primary schooling level, Thulani graduated to Groutville High School in 2000. In 2001, he won his school a computer in a drawing competition. It came as a huge relief for Thulani and his mom when his school awarded him a scholarship, and they no longer had to pay any school fees up until grade 12.
Thulani’s dream, as a child, was to be an animator. But when he finished his matric, and having not been exposed to any art classes, he felt it was better for him to pursue commerce. After God miraculously made a way for him to study, he enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in commerce at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), Pietermaritzburg, in 2005. During his second month of study, he gave his life to Christ, and started attending Cornerstone Church.
At UKZN, Thulani saw his love for drawing replaced by Hip Hop music. He started writing lyrics and recording demos with friends, and performing in some varsity events. However, due to the stigma that comes with this genre of music, Thulani slowly pulled away and focused more on his studies. He would only record a song when he felt there was a story that was heavy in his heart that he had to share.After the conclusion of his tertiary education, Thulani got a job in the exports division with one of the biggest sugar companies in South Africa.
In 2012 he married Nompilo Mkhize and a year later, they were blessed with a baby boy, whom they named Nqaba, a Zulu word that means fortress, taken from Psalm 91:2 – I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Nqaba was the healthiest and liveliest baby, but in April 2014, he succumbed to cot death. This loss left the biggest scars in Nqaba’s parents. In reaction to pain and suffering, Thulani, after having gone through the journey of scepticism in his Christian beliefs, wrote a book, Nqaba: Grief and Hope, aiming to serve as a companion to anyone grieving the loss of a loved one.
Thulani is currently working on his next book, while offering encouragement through grief and hope.