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Youth Day: It takes determination – and a dream

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Vivian Warby chats to Nthabiseng Makgabo, chair of the SA Institute of Black Property Professionals’ Young Professionals unit.

Long before I started studying property, I got a good grounding in bricks and mortar from my two grandmothers, both teachers, and my mom, a graphic information systems technician, says Nthabiseng Makgabo, chair of the SA Institute of Black Property Professionals’ Young Professionals unit.

“I watched one of my grans, Salome Makgabo, who lived in a village in Dikebu in North West, build her house by her own sweat and tears.

“It took her forever to build it. She would save a little then buy some bricks, then save a little and buy some other material. It was an arduous process. And sometimes the things she had bought got stolen. But she was determined. She would just save again and go back and buy.

“When I was young, I always thought building a home took forever because that is how my gran had to build her home. I also remember one year she went to get the bricks she had been storing to start building a section and they just crumbled, they had rotted, she had been sold inferior material. But she just picked herself up and started again.”

The family lived in a partially built home for a long time, but when her “Mama Salome” finally completed her home, which included an inside toilet, “my first thought was now we are in the big league”.

“You have to understand that in the village very few people have inside toilets because there is no plumbing and, at the time, no running water. But my gran made a plan.” In the village the toilets consisted of longdrops. “When I was four or five I was afraid of the long-drops – they seemed scary.”

After doing Grade 1 in the village, Makgabo moved to live with her other grandmother Maria “Babes” Mabusela, who she affectionately calls “Koko Baby”, in a township in Ga-Rankuwa.

“I preferred the township. We had running water and also there was plumbing, so we had toilets. In the village, there was none of that.” Today, Mabusela has a beautiful, big home which she also worked hard to save for and build.

“The house was full of my older cousins and in the townships everyone was within a 5km radius. However, when I grew up, I began to appreciate the land and space of the village and will one day build one of my homes there.” But for now Makgabo rents an apartment close to her workplace in Sandton.

When her mother Malebo Makgabo sold her home, Makgabo stepped in. “I wanted to contribute to her and her life, so I got involved with buying a house with her and provided the deposit as well. “We bought in a secure estate close to Midrand. We bought it to let it and it has worked for us as an investment.

“Thanks to my studies, I knew things like if you buy in phase one of a development you are going to get the best prices. “My studies have taught me the value of land as a physical asset but it was my two mamas and my mom who showed me what was possible in property with determination and a dream.” 

Advice from the women

Maria (Babes) Mabusela

Maria ‘Babes’ Mabusila Picture: Supplied

I moved to Ga-Rankuwa in 1968 or 1969. Back then, Lucas Mangope was in charge of the area and he gave us houses. My house took a few years to extend. Things were cheaper back then ,so I could build for less. I had to plan. Planning is important.

Malebo Makgabo (my mom)

Nthabiseng with her mother Malebo Makgabo. Picture: Supplied

Safety is important. Always look for place that will give you peace. As a woman, that’s important.

Salome Makgabo

Grandmother Salome Makgabo Picture: Supplied

1 Get some land. I’m lucky I got mine free at the village.

2 Get a plan. They can be expensive but they are important. I tried to build without it and it didn’t work out.

3 Save. Make a plan. And be patient. I built my house whilst raising three children as a single mother in apartheid South Africa. But I made a plan. I had many problems. But I made a plan with no help. I had to pull myself up


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