‘Not Blood Brothers but Heart Brothers’: Pair Raised Under the Same Roof Still Inseparable

November 15, 2020 Updated: November 28, 2020

Ilan van Staden and Moses Mthembo were born and raised in the same home in Johannesburg, South Africa. As adults, the pair introduce themselves as brothers and each other’s parents as their own. Their story of enduring friendship is inspiring thousands.

“We were raised under the same roof since birth, since [Moses’s] mother was, and is still our domestic worker,” Ilan, 24, told The Epoch Times via email. “She is like my own mother and my parents are like his own family, in a way.”

Epoch Times Photo
Ilan van Staden (L) and Moses Mthembo (R) (Courtesy of Ilan van Staden)

As kids, Ilan recalled, the boys were “a rowdy bunch,” always busy doing something interesting in the garden or reenacting superhero movies. “There was never a dull moment,” he said.

And now as adults, the pair are still together. “I literally see him every day,” Ilan said of Moses, 23. “We even work at the same institute.”

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Ilan van Staden and Moses Mthembo as kids. (Courtesy of Ilan van Staden)

Ilan has become a musician and environmental lecturer, whilst Moses is a fitness instructor and coordinator, specializing in rugby. Both men have a passion for fitness and working out, so they find it easy to bond at the gym too. They also enjoy catching up over shared dinners at home.

After over two long decades of friendship, Ilan still reveres Moses for his core character traits. “He is one of the most talented people I know, but you will never hear him boast about it,” Ilan explained. “He is one of the most humble people I know. His loyalty towards family, including mine, is also noteworthy.”

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(Courtesy of Ilan van Staden)

As self-proclaimed born-again Christians, the pair also share similar values.

To Ilan, Moses is his brother. “Not blood-brothers,” he clarified, “but heart-brothers.” He attributes their long-lasting friendship to their ability to give each other space, while also being there to share with, listen to, and encourage one another.

“As we get older, the dynamic of our friendship changes,” Ilan admitted, “but the sincereness and brotherly love never changes.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Ilan van Staden)

In 2019, Ilan shared his and Moses’s story with the Facebook group #ImStaying, a group dedicated to people of all races, cultures, religions, and creeds united by a common ambition to grow and improve South Africa. The post garnered tens of thousands of likes, comments, and shares.

“Our turn,” Ilan posted. “We are the generation that can change mindsets and the future by simply being an example and loving one another. We are praying for this country,” he added, “and encourage you to do the same.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Ilan van Staden)

Ilan firmly believes that there are many more stories like his and Moses’s out there that sadly escape the attention of the media when “negative politics” dominate the headlines. The 24-year-old hopes that sharing his and Moses’s enduring brotherhood will help challenge the impression that the world is full of hate.

“Charity starts at home,” he shared with The Epoch Times. “Love your neighbor, love your enemies. This will change the world.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Ilan van Staden)

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