On Thursday, 8th of June 2017, Banele (34) paged through the New Age newspaper and stumbled upon an article about a lady from Germany named Melinda. Without turning the page, Banele’s eyes settled on another name, one he knew well, his brother Alpheus Mpikeleli Kubeka.
In 1977, under the Apartheid government, Alpheus left South Africa in exile at the age of 20. Unfortunately, this was the last time his family would ever hear from him or see him again. His family has spent the last 40 years searching for him with unanswered questions. His disappearance affected his parents greatly, without closure they never gave up hope that they would one day reunite with their son. Banele says it breaks his heart that his parents died not knowing what happened to their son. They heard whisperings of his passing which shattered their hopes, but they never knew for sure what happened or where he had been living all that time.
In seems like an act of destiny that now 4 decades later the distraught family would come across a plea from Melinda, an unknown 20 year old in Germany hoping to connect to her father’s family, an ocean away in Orange Farm, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Melinda took to Facebook with the bit of information she had on her estranged family and hoped with the power of Social Media she would find her father’s siblings. “Hello to all the people out there. I need your help. My name is Melinda and I’m 20 years old. I live in Germany. I’m the girl in the second picture. On the first picture, you can see my father, Alpheus Mpikeleli Kubeka, who died 15 years ago.” is what she wrote.
To her amazement everything fell into place and Banele started his search to find Melinda on social media after reading the article. When they finally connected they became inseparable. During this last week they have kept in contact almost every day, sharing stories of Alpheus and getting to know each other.
Alpheus tried in vain to return home to his family, but experienced resistance from both the South African and German embassy. He sadly passed away 15 years ago.
This family beat the odds to find each other in all the noise of social media. Banele and his siblings desperately want to meet Melinda and her family to make up for lost time. They also would like to use this opportunity to have a ceremony in honour of their brother at his grave as a way to put the past behind them. When talking about reuniting with Melinda and the rest of his brother’s children, Banele emotionally explains, “We’ve been through a lot, and we need to be there for each other now.”
The Kubeka family have set up a humble crowdfunding campaign on Backabuddy to raise funds for a potential family trip to Dortmund, Germany to visit the family they have never knew existed and never had the chance to meet. They ask in anticipation for the public’s help during this very personal journey.
You can support their crowdfunding page on Backabuddy here: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/reunite-the-kubeka-family-campaign