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Eusebius McKaiser Fires 5 Questions at Kabelo Mabalane at the Launch of I Ran For My Life

Kabelo Mabalane and Babongile Zulu


“This book is absolutely amazing, incredibly honest.”

Kabelo Mabalane and Eusebius McKaiserI Ran For My LifeWith these words Eusebius McKaiser opened the launch of I Ran For My Life: My Story by Kabelo Mabalane, last week Tuesday at Exclusive Books Rosebank.

McKaiser grilled the author about the five main themes in his book: Mabalane’s complicated relationship with his father, the importance of education in his household, music (as a last resort after his dream of a rugby career!), drinking and drug abuse and the crux of the story – how running saved his life from ruin.


“I am my father’s son.”


Mabalane’s relationship with his father was fraught with contradictions; his dad taught him honesty, integrity and hard work, yet he drank too much. “The older I become, the wiser my dad becomes,” Mabalane said. “He was just dealing with the cards he was dealt with.”

“I am my father’s son,” he said. “Understanding that he’s human helped my relationship with him. Dad did the best he could do.”

McKaiser asked Mabalane about the horrible decision he had to make on page 101 of the book, to turn off the machines that were keeping his father alive. “I knew that if I’d hung on to him he wouldn’t have been the same person. He would have said, ‘Let me go, I’ve run my race’. He wouldn’t have appreciated being a vegetable.”


“There are many smarts in the world, you’ll find your smart.”


Education was important in the Mabalane household. Mabalane thanked his mother, an English teacher who was sitting in the audience, for encouraging his education and moving him from Sacred Heart to St Stithians. “I fell in love, you see,” he explained why he had to leave. “I was in standard six and she was in standard five, and she broke my heart.” This is where he learned that women are distractions.

It was also there that he met the teacher that had a lasting impact on his life. “There’s always one teacher, and it’s always the English teacher,” McKaiser quipped. When Mabalane found himself struggling academically, his English teacher said to him: “You know what? You’re going to be fine. There are many smarts in the world, you’ll find your smart.”


Music as a last resort

McKaiser noted how Mabalane found music almost as a last resort. “My goal was to be a Springbok rugby player,” Mabalane shared with the crowd. “I was going to fill the quota.” Alas, the musician was too small to compete with the big Afrikaans boys, and formed a band with some friends from St Stithians instead. “We were all academically challenged,” he laughed.

After reading the book, his fellow TKZee band member and friend, Zwai Bala, told him: “I’m proud of you, this is your story.”


“Drugs helped me face my insecurities”


Kabelo Mabalane“I love his story and the fact that he owns it,” McKaiser said, turning the conversation to Mabalane’s drug addiction. “I’m fascinated by South African artists and the mix of drugs and creativity.”

“I’m still finding myself as a young man and a performer. It can be intimidating to find yourself surrounded by greatness.” Mabalane said.

“It wasn’t the drugs that helped me create,” he explained. “It helped me to face my insecurities.”

“This book is also a beautiful archive of the process of going though rehab,” McKaiser observed.

“Rehab taught me to feel, that it’s okay to be vulnerable, that to share your weaknesses is to show how strong you are,” Mabalane said. He’s been clean for 13 years now. “Rehab taught me how to ask for help, to get to the other side. We identify with each other the most when we share our weaknesses.”


“Running is therapeutic”

“I though this was the part that was going to annoy me,” McKaiser said about the section that deals with Mabalane’s running career. “But it inspired me to run, even.”

“Running became a big part of my life,” Mabalane said. Letting go of drugs left a void in him that needed to be filled with something constructive. “Running is therapeutic. Everyone should do a Comrades Marathon at least once in their lives.”

In conclusion, Mabalane explained the title of the book: “I Ran For My Life is me running away from the things that could have derailed my destiny, and running towards things that helped my destiny.”

A beautiful family with Gail Mabalane, 13 years of sobriety, 10 SAMA awards and eight Comrades Marathons later, it’s no wonder Mabalane is positive about his life. “I’m an eternal optimist, my best days lie ahead of me,” he said.

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Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) live tweeted the event using the hashtag, #livebooks:



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