In a family of nine Thato was the second of three children born to Mrs Mkize. Thato grew up in a village in the North West province. He grew up to be a troublesome kid who always bullied others and stole their belongings. His father worked at the petrol station for four years, until he was offered a post in Johannesburg.

After Thato’s father left for the city, Thato was forced to go and live with his grandmother. This was because his mother had to leave home and find a job to try and help to provide for Thato and the rest of her family. Thato had potential and was always ready to learn new things or make up new inventions. Whenever Thato’s father came home to visit he brought him the most expensive toys, which Thato always ended up destroying.

A year later, Thato went to his first school and then proceeded onto his second school. He was a very smart boy, especially with the subjects English, Maths and Geography. He always received distinctions for his subjects and beat all the other learners in his class. In Thato’s final year of schooling, just three days after schools re-opened, his family received a call from the company his father worked for. They reported that his father had passed away the night before.

Thato’s family waited a while before breaking the news to him; once he heard the news he immediately burst into tears and ran out into the cold, rainy night never to be found by his family again. This was the most touching moment for the family. After having lost their only breadwinner in the family and then to lose their special child, that they really believed in was devastating. After the burial of Thato’s father the family went out to search for Thato, but they couldn’t find him.

Life became a living hell for Thato. He lived in the streets of Mafikeng and had nothing to feed on for the upcoming days of hunger or a place to sleep. He woke up everyday trying to find a job in order for him to have something to eat. One morning he woke up, cleaned his face with an old cloth that he used back in high school and took a walk down the streets.

As he was walking, he passed by a house two blocks away from the street he called home and saw an old lady struggling to open her door. He stepped towards the gate doubting that his help was needed, but he decided he would go and help the lady. When he got there he asked the lady to let him help her with the door. Shortly Thato was able to fix the door and the lady was able to get inside her house. She thanked Thato for his help and also gave him R200.

Excitement lit up Thato’s face and he jumped up and down the streets. He ran to a nearby restaurant to buy himself a meal. When Thato got to the restaurant he ordered a take-away and went to sit down and eat his food next to an old house that had been burned down during the apartheid era. While eating his meal, two boys came and asked Thato for some money. He refused so they decided to take matters into their own hands and stole his food and leftover money.

On his way back home, Thato’s face filled with tears like a waterfall. His eyes were so red it looked like he hadn’t slept in days. While he was walking he bumped into two of his friends who were busy scratching in the rubbish bins. He called them over and told them his story. In response they sighed but then started to laugh. They told him that he was being weak by letting those boys get away with it. Thato felt ashamed, but he didn’t allow it to get him down.

“Yoh guys, I’ve got some good news for you,” said Thato.

“Yeah, what’s the news?” said his friends.

Thato started speaking; “As I was walking down the street I saw a poster on that front wall. It said Oxford is hosting a writing competition if interested, come do your thing and stand a chance to grab a prize. The competition is going to take place on 2 July, in the market square and I thought of entering the competition. Maybe I’ll be able to change my life for the better.”

Thato’s friends giggled for a moment and then asked, “What are you saying? How could a dirty, little dumb kid like you win a competition like that? You must be joking!”

But Thato entered the competition and came amongst the top five who were going to travel to Cape Town for the finals. He then went to Cape Town for the finals and won the competition plus a scholarship. He later went to school in America and left the street life behind him for good.

He came back after five years as a grown up, well-educated and successful man. He went to the market the other day and met his sister there. She excitedly asked him to come back with her to visit their family. Thato saw his family and changed their life. He became the world’s richest man through the power of believing in himself.