Similar to Madiba’s early years, Ramalise Makume (Bra Ali)

was born and grew up on a farm with his mother and siblings.

Bra Ali was a victim of the child labour practices associated with the apartheid-driven farm tenant labour system.

At the age of 13, when his father left to work in Gauteng, he was forced to ensure the family’s farm tenancy was secured.

How he ended up in Gauteng, having spent his childhood in the rural Free State, was quite by chance.

In 1959, after intervening to prevent the son of the farmer from hurting another young boy on the farm, Bra Ali was ordered to leave the Free State within 24 hours and never return.

He left with four siblings and mother to join his father in Gauteng. Ramalise started school at the age of 14

and completed high school within six years by cramming multiple years into one.

In 1966, he married Mirriam Mookho (Mma Makume) and became a bus driver for PUTCO. In the ’80s, Bra Ali moved into the construction industry at Petrocall.

This is where his passion for bitumen started.

An intelligent and selftaught man, he was promoted through the ranks where he served as an instructor and a service manager.

He moved across to Colas SA (a French company)

FOUNDER where he was appointed Marketing Director and remained there until 1994.

In the early ’90s, when BEE discussions commenced, Bra Ali formed a company with his three brothers called Bautang.

It did well and was bought by Black Top Holdings which was liquidated a few years later.

This did not deter Bra Ali who, in 1994, with the help of his younger brother Motsamai – now a judge of the High Court – formed a new company,

registered it in Mafikeng and named it Boitshoko (which means ‘perseverance’ in Setswana).

The company started operating as a fully fledged South African, 100% blackfounded and -owned company,

FOUNDER and while it had modest beginnings, in 1998, when clients started to approach Ramalise,

Dr Phillip Makume joined his late father on a part-time basis and he was able to grow the business. Bra Ali ran Boitshoko from 1994 up until his death on 22 May 2010.

A hard worker all his life, he finished a full work week on 21 May and passed away the next day.

Bra Ali and Mma Makume had eight children, five of whom work in the business today.

The first employee to start with Bra Ali was Francina Moloabi who remembers running a staff of five FOUNDER.

Today, Boitshoko has 135 fulltime employees and 600 contract workers, and Moloabi is now the Head of the Tender Department and sits on the board.

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