News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
4 minute read
23 Nov 2017
10:13 am

Florence Masebe’s Heart Knows

Gosebo Mathope

Masebe wrote diary entries during 365 days of 'official mourning' for her late son, Masakona Matsila, and chose 100 'reflections' that are today a book she titled 'The Heart Knows'.

Johanna Mukoki, Basetsana Makgalemele, Rami Chuene, Nambitha Mpumlwana and Florence Masebe. Facebook.

Florence Masebe, the woman popularly known as Khadzi, exudes an aura of serenity and calm when talking about the loss of her son who tragically drowned in a pool a few years ago shortly before her own birthday celebrations. She says “nobody ever ultimately totally heals from grief and loss”.

“Acceptance happens the minute you start screaming. That is why you scream so loud. As you see the tears, that is acceptance. You are in that horrible space because you have accepted that something very precious has just been stolen from you ruthlessly. That was always there,” she told SABC’s Morning Live this week.

Day 346 of 'official mourning'

Day 346 of ‘official mourning’

She sounds like an antithesis of a pity party and cautions although she may be a “walking wounded” at the moment, writing assisted with the process of healing: “The book kind of decided what I would do with it. I kind off started writing for myself, this was diary entries for me. But as time went on, people very close to me lost their own children, and I started sharing some of my writings.”

The cheerful indigenous languages advocate, arts and culture activist, thespian and TV personality surprisingly disclosed that she didn’t set out to write a book about the loss of Masakona Matsila, but “the book kind of decided what I would do with it”. Tongue-in-cheek, she said another reason for the decision to publish the collection of poems was to scoop her friends and sister who would have stolen and published without her permission.

Masebe receives a warm hug from Basetsana Makgalamele during one of the 'The Heart Knows' launches. Facebook.

Masebe receives a warm hug from Basetsana Makgalamele during one of the ‘The Heart Knows’ launches. Facebook.

On the epigrammatic title of her book, she says she settled on it because her “heart knows knows how to break into a million little pieces and still continue to beat for the children I still have”.

The cheerful point of departure is not only for herself though. She also decided she “can do something for many more children than just him [Masakona]”, and in the process, also do something for mothers.

Her numbered poems – not all poems are titled in the book – are “very important” to her as she “made diary entries on particular days of mourning”.

The book is made up of “reflections” from her diary entries written over a period of 365 days when she was in mourning. For instance, mourning 63 means it was 63 days into official mourning. Out of these, she selected poems that were included in the book.

This morning she told The Citizen she settled on 100 poems that reminded her she “is a work in progress, but better days are coming”.

Masebe and her sister, Limpopo MEC of Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba. Facebook.

Masebe and her sister, Limpopo MEC of Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba. Facebook.

These better days are in the form of Masakona Matsila Foundation, a buffer for her own loss by extending a helping hand despite losing “a beautiful child”.

One of the flagship initiatives of the foundation is ‘Bundle of Love’. Grieving mothers are encouraged to pack baby goods that can be given with love to a mother who needs them. She knows very well many of them battle with deciding “what to do with them”, a matter she herself battled with.

“Bundle of Love is taking off beautifully. We intend to make a big handover at a few local clinics next month. We also send bundles when a request comes through. I’d like to have more moms on board for this, but would not advise it if the grief is still fresh,” she explained, and added there was no formula to grieving as she only published the book two years after Masakona’s passing.


“I don’t really have advice for grieving mothers. What works for me may not work for them. We all grieve differently. What’s important is for us to grieve as much as we need to,” she said

‘The Heart Knows’ is available at selected at bookstores, and can also be ordered from Masakona Matsila Foundation via email


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