Elias Masilela was born in South Africa, the youngest son of Solomon Buthongo and Rebecca Makgomo Masilela, and was raised in Swaziland. He was educated at Salesian School in Manzini, the University of Swaziland and Addis Ababa University, where he trained as an economist. He has held senior positions with the Central Bank of Swaziland and the South African National Treasury. He is currently head of stakeholder strategy at Sanlam. He tells the story of Number 43 from the perspective of a young boy who found himself in the middle of events, most of which he could not comprehend.