Lucky and Charl met in Grade 1 and often had playdates… but one day his “parents” were just not there when Mariki took him back “home” to a room at the back of the house where he lived. This is the back story of the much-loved radio DJ (one half of the Lucky and Greg show)… that you might actually not know.
Johannesburg, South Africa (19 November 2020) – Contrary to his name, Lucky Du Plessis did not have much luck when growing up. The people who took care of him initially may not even be his biological parents. He was also not sure of the date of his birth.
His story, however, is one that is inspiring South Africa.
Lucky’s caretaker at the time enrolled him in Florida Afrikaans Primary School because he could only speak Afrikaans, and, therefore, he could not be enrolled in just any school. The school was filled with white kids, and no one wanted to associate themselves with a black kid. Charl and Lucky hit it off immediately from his first day at school until today.
Lucky recently shared his story to Twitter, to highlight the importance of Adoption and how lives can be changed in the process.
“I met my now brother Charl at school, he was 6, and I was 5, he was the only Afrikaans kid who wanted to be friends with me in the entire Afrikaans school, a few years later his parents decided to adopt me. They looked after me for many years before they adopted me; the person I stayed with was a drug addict and alcohol abuser.” – Lucky Du Plessis.
Schools, especially White schools, were legally segregated until a few years before Lucky was enrolled at Florida Afrikaans School.
“When Florida became – by law, not voluntarily – multi-racial, Lucky was entered in the school by someone. We don’t really know whom. The person that subscribed him was the person that Lucky thought was his father, at that stage. But this also changed.
Our son Charl was also entered in Florida. A strange friendship developed between the largest child the school had ever seen, and one of the first black children the school had ever seen.” – Mariki Du Plessis
Mariki Du Plessis (Mickey) often took Lucky home after school. It is fairly standard practice in South Africa for mothers to drive to school to pick up their children, so Lucky got a lift to his home. Home for Lucky meant a single room outside the house that his father was restoring. There was no electricity, although there was running water. The two people Lucky believed to be his parents and himself shared this room.
Lucky’s adoptive parents have expressed openly how they actually didn’t adopt him, but he actually adopted them.
“Some people believe that we adopted a black child – in South Africa, this is a praiseworthy thing to do; it shows true liberalness. It is something like the Americans adopting little Vietnamese. It also appears to be a potentially Christian thing to do.
Fact is that he came to visit us, and then there was no one to give him back to. So one might say that Lucky adopted us.”
Lucky disappeared from school for three days in grade 1, assumed to be sick by the teachers. When Mickey asked him where he was, he told her that the police had arrested his mother and father for disorderly behaviour and running an illegal shebeen, and he ran away being scared that he will also be taken to jail. For three nights, he slept under the hedges in the neighbourhood without any food.
But that was not the year that he moved in with Mickey and her husband.
When he was in grade 2, the school held a concert, and Lucky was selected as the lead role to the song of Mama Thembo’s Wedding.
“A grade 2 concert is always a big event for mothers and fathers… but parents that have already had three children in grade 2 before, tend to be less enthusiastically involved.
Despite Lucky having the required skin colour for the role, naturally, there was still a certain amount of dressing up required. His mother’s involvement was non-existent. The parents felt that she could not be relied on to ensure that Lucky will be at the school for the concert on time every night. Since he had to walk to school one could also assume quite reasonably that he was not going to walk in the streets with his bridegroom outfit for the concert – in Mama Tembo’s Wedding, the bridegroom basically wears a loin-cloth with a tiger motif (ignoring the fact that there are no tigers in Africa).
So Lucky came to stay with Charl for the three days that the concert was on. And he never really returned to his own home. Maybe one should say ‘house’ rather than ‘home’ because the word ‘home’ implies a lot of things that were not at Lucky’s house – or room.” – Mariki Du Plessis.
At first, Mickey took him home on Fridays, but Lucky stayed with the Du Plessis’ from Monday evening onward. His mother preferred this arrangement – she had lost her job, and the building foreman was not earning money.
And then one Friday they were gone. There was no one to take Lucky back to.
“That is how Lucky came to live with us.”
But Lucky didn’t even know when his birthday was; he had never ever even celebrated one.
“One year my now mother Mickey asked me when my birthday was, I told her “I don’t know, the school hasn’t given me one” doing what she does best she asked the school, and they told her “We don’t have a birthday for Lucky”.
Mickey took me to Sandton clinic and they scanned the 3 fingers: index, middle and ring finger on my rand hand. And they worked out I was born in 1987 between July and September.”
Mickey then chose the middle month of August and the middle Day 15th, and that is now Lucky’s birthday.
“I think everyone thinks their birthday is special, but mine feels extra special.”
Charl and Lucky had an amazing relationship and it only got stronger as the years went on.
Growing up in an Afrikaans school both kids played Rugby, “it was a religion in this part of town”.
My brother Charl was good without even trying. I wasn’t good because of my size. Whenever I played it hurt so, I would stop or cry. Charl didn’t have any of this because our Dad was a 1st team, Stellenbosh player. Charl would tell me things like “You can’t cry in Rugby you just have to have to hit them back harder” so one day he strapped padding to a tree.
And he made me hit it twenty times on each shoulder every day. He made me hard because he saw how much I wanted to play rugby. Even though he didn’t enjoy it as much. In grade 5 he was the first kid to play 1st team for the primary school. And I was the second.”
Lucky says that Rugby changed his life.
“It gave me opportunities that I could have never had. I ended up playing craven week twice and got a scholarship to St Stithians. But it all started with a blond-haired blue-eyed boy who didn’t see colour… just a friend.”
Lucky wants the world to know that adoption is absolutely amazing.
“Because you are giving someone another chance at life. Thank you to all those amazing people who have done that. All those ‘Mickeys’ out there who didn’t care that the church kicked them out because their son was black.
Adopt and make a difference, because it matters.”