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Serendipity Strikes - A happy link-up through HubPages

Updated on March 27, 2011

The comment that made the connection possible

On 30 May I found the following comment posted on my Hub "Blythswood: a unique South African mission station" (see links below):

"Wow, I got to this site by chance. My daughter, Nikiwe and I were talking about my late husband, Boy Bikitsha and his late father, Gladstone, who was the boarding master at Blythswood. I also went to Blythswood and was deeply touched by your account. We have a the same picture of Great grandfather Veldtman in the house. Boy used to tell me stories about Chris McGregor and how they grew up there before apartheid. Oh, I'm so fascinated by all this, I'm speechless. I live in Joburg with Nikiwe. who is a journalist. My son, 37 is married with two kids. My other daughter, Vuyo, is 33 also with two kids. It would be lovely for us to meet you. We would like to be in contact, let me know if you are available. - Mpumi Bikitsha"

I immediately responded: "Mpumi - I am also speechless - I had not thought I would ever make contact with Boy's family again. Please contact me - I would love to hear from you. I am reitred and so can be available pretty much any time - and for Boy's widow really it would be an honour. I have such great memories of Boy. Thanks so much for your comment which I appreciate beyond words!"

Within a few minutes my cell phone rang (I had left my contact details in my comment) and it was Mpumi!

We chatted and made a date for the next Sunday afternoon to do that typically South African thing - have a "braai" together at Mpumi's home.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mpumi Bikitsha, widow of my friend BoySimphiweVuyoNikiweNikiwe's columnMpumi and TonyCatherine, Vuyo, Nikiwe, Mpumi, TonyCaitlin and Gushi
Mpumi Bikitsha, widow of my friend Boy
Mpumi Bikitsha, widow of my friend Boy
Nikiwe's column
Nikiwe's column
Mpumi and Tony
Mpumi and Tony
Catherine, Vuyo, Nikiwe, Mpumi, Tony
Catherine, Vuyo, Nikiwe, Mpumi, Tony
Caitlin and Gushi
Caitlin and Gushi

Getting together

So on Sunday we went to Sunninghill, Johannesburg, and met the family at Mpumi's home.

I had worked out that I had last seen Boy at the beginning of 1960, 49 years ago!

Boy and I lost touch with each other as after I went back to boarding school in Bloemfontein in January 1960 my father was transferred to Buntingville and moved there in March 1960. So when I returned home from boarding school it was to Buntingville and not Blythswood that I returned.

Boy and Mpumi married and lived in Cape Town for some years before returning to the then Transkei. They had three children.

Boy was tragically killed in a car accident in the 1980s and his family returned to Cape Town where the children all finished their schooling and Mpumi her Honours degree in anthropology at the University of Cape Town.

The first-born is Simphiwe, also known as Brian, who took my breath away when I met him as he is so like his father. Simphiwe runs a plant hire company in Johannesburg.

The next is daughter Vuyo who, like Simphiwe, has two children.

The third is Nikiwe who is a journalist and TV presenter who has a son called Gushi who is six years old and was a wonderful host to our daughter Caitlin during our visit.

A column by Nikiwe was published in the weekly tabloid the Mail and Guardian on the Friday before our visit. It is a wonderfully angry piece about a very senior politician who, when she went to interview him, greeted her with the words: "Hi babes!"

At first, she wrote, she thought the man must have mistaken her for a female friend of his, but, seeing no other woman around, she realised he had actually addressed her in this familiar way.

"That realisation hit me so hard and weighed so heavily that I felt my stomach turn and for a moment thought I might deposit my breakfast muesli on to his plush, paid-for-by-taxpayers rug."

She ended her column by writing that she now knows that she refuses to be cowed and weakened by ugly words. "So, Mr Politician, I refuse to make it about me. It is your despicable behaviour that deserves scrutiny and sanction. If you want to weaken me, there must be something about me that scares you." Fighting words from a brave young woman.

Naturally, we spent quite a while that Sunday afternoon talking about her experience and the column, with some speculation about who the politician in question might be. Nikiwe was adamant in her refusal to divulge anything about his identity.

Our conversation that afternoon and into the evening was what South Africans like to talk about - politics, the weather, even a little bit of sport. (There was general rejoicing in the company when Roger Federer won at Roland Garros!)

But most of the time of course was spent talking about Boy, Blythswood and our respective families.

It was a joyous and wonderful afternoon and I felt so honoured to be there. As Mpumi commented to me later by SMS: "The kids say they actually felt their father's presence amongst us. Twas so surreal."

And for me so serendipitous to have made that contact after so many years.

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2009


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    • profile image

      Trevor Webster 

      8 years ago

      I came across this blog or whatever it is called in my attempt to find out more of the family of Veldman Bikitsha. Was Dr Charles Bikitsha his son? And were there any other Bikitshas who studied at Healdtown. The reason I am interested is that I'm writing the history of Healdtown. I wonder if the Tony McGregor mentioned here is the son of Murray Mcgregor who taught at Healdtown and who was afirend of my folks.

      I would appreciate it if my question could be answered.

      Thank you,

      Trevor webster

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Christine - it was very special to meet Mpumi. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

      Love and peace


    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      10 years ago

      I'm really glad you had the chance to meet up with Boy's family. Clearly it was special for all of you. You're right about the internet too, I love the way it can bring us together.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Dolores and Peggy for your comments. Thanks also to all the previous comments. I really do appreciate them.

      Love and peace


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      11 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wonderful story about the wonders of how we can connect with people through HubPages and other Internet means of communication. You are fortunate to have found one another after that passage of years. Bet that it felt almost like yesterday when you were together talking about the past. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      11 years ago from East Coast, United States

      How wonderful to make that connection. I love how the internet has made such things possible. My sister found a German cousin, our great grandfathers were brothers. To make sure they were right about the connection, the German cousin sent my sister an old photograph taken in the late 1800's. It was the same photo my mother had on her wall while we were growing up. Amazing!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      11 years ago from England

      Hi, what a great story. The internet never fails to amaze me. I am old enough to appreciate what it was like without it. I have been trying to track down a part of my family who went to live in Canada years ago. Maybe it is possible after all. thanks again nell

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 

      11 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      How touching! It is so great to find people that you never thought you would. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 

      11 years ago from Texas

      Wonderful slice of life! Thank you so much for sharing your reunion with us! Great experience.

    • lxxy profile image


      11 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      This is one of the sweetest stories I've heard in relation to Hubbing.

      I'm so happy to see you reunited with this family, the pictures make my saturday morning a smiling one.

      It's amazing how we just tend to walk into our past at various points in our lives...

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      11 years ago from Southern California

      That was such a heartwarming and touching story, you told it so beautifully. You all seem like such beautiful people, I wish I was privy to the whole thing in person, however you told it so vividly, that I felt as if I was right there in the room with you.

    • jazzuboo profile image


      11 years ago from Queensland, Australia

      Wow! What an inspiring and touching story. It must have been wonderful to meet all these people. It's amazing to think that a medium like Hubpages could have touched both you and Mpumi in souch a special way.

    • Moonmaiden profile image

      Fayme Zelena Harper 

      11 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

      I'm so glad you could connect again. The Internet is still a miracle to me. I'll never take it for granted.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      11 years ago from UK

      What a great story! How wonderful to have this opportunity after so many years. Life is full of surprises.

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      11 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Thank you, Tony. Mpumi Bikitsha's comment makes it all the more real and inspiring.

    • Chris Eddy111 profile image

      Chris Eddy111 

      11 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wonderful story!! Nothing is a coincidence.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Hey thanks Pete, and all of you! I just love the way we are enabled to connect through this amazing technology. Pete is another case in point - the son of my cousin Andrew Kirstein and we got together through HubPages and FaceBook also.

      People and the connections between them are what make life exciting and interesting.

      Love and peace


    • profile image

      Peter Kirstein 

      11 years ago

      Great story - isn't life just wonderful at times. God is good!

    • profile image

      Mpumi Bikitsha 

      11 years ago

      I had always felt that Boy was a uniquely special person in my life but could not explain how. I have always been asked why I never remarried after he passed. I was very busy bringing my children up and could entertain no interferences. They came out exactly the way I had planned, with God's help. Sitting with Tony that very special Sunday afternoon, I understood why. There could never have been any space for anybody else there because our home was just filled with Boy's spirit that whole day. The following day I felt an explicable sense of relief and calm, to have his childhood friend there with us and reminiscing, I just lazied around playing music and not reading even a book. Life never ceases to amaze.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      What a heartwarming story - and thank you so much for sharing. The photos brought a smile to my face and I could hear your laughter just by looking at them.

    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 

      11 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      I'm glad that you had this wonderful reunion Tony. Cheers. TOF.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Love this Tony, what a great looking family - and smart as well. I do miss my South African friends so much. You have warmed my heart today.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Tony this is a pleasureable read. i can only imagine the fun you all shared and the memoires too. Though somewhat better sweet it turned into a joyous occasion. good for you.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for all your comments, I do appreciate them.

      It was a very special moment to meet these lovely people and somehow feel connected to Boy again after so many years. I must admit that I suddenly felt old when I worked out how long ago it was that I last saw Boy!

      Boy was very special, and so are his family, and I feel very privileged to have been invited back into their circle again. And the common memories are very strong - we could have gone on talking all night, making the connections and sharing memories, but we will get together again soon I'm sure.

      Just so happy that HubPages helped us connect - it makes all the effort of research and writing so much more rewarding.

      Love and peace


    • fortunerep profile image

      Dori S Matte 

      11 years ago from Hillsborough

      How beautiful!! I love these kind of stories. Great writing!


    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      11 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Happy meeting! Isn't it amazing how close we can suddenly feel to a new bunch of people, tied as we are through common memories? Lovely hub.

    • Hawkesdream profile image

      Al Hawkes 

      11 years ago from Cornwall

      And after all those years, life can just be picked up, your friendship with Boy must have been truly special.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 

      11 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      HI Tony, wonderful story, great pics. This is what makes life so special.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 

      11 years ago

      What a great story!! I'm glad you found each other and very happy that you shared the story!


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