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Love, Crime & Johannesburg

MEET THE CAST: Tumi Tlhabanelo


“Live each day to the fullest because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Always remember, faith without actions is dead.” ~ Tumi Tlhabanelo, media graduate, musician, actor.

Kroonstad may be home to David Kau, but the town is not a joke. It is an important economic hub in the Free State, and serves as a railway junction between Johannesburg and Cape Town through Bloemfontein.

As a breeding ground for Mimosa trees and a major agricultural contributor, the town understands that the psychology of greatness is in growing its own timber. One of the darling products of its soil is Tumi Tlhabanelo, an actor and musician who is following in the excellent footsteps of actor Fana Mokoena, football coach Steve Komphela and politician Mosiuoa Lekota, among others.

The theatrically and vocally talented BA Media Studies & Journalism graduate boasts a lively theatre portfolio, having featured in productions such as FOOTSTEPS, Blood Wedding, FAME: The Musical and Journey of a Christian Artist.

As a vocalist, he prides himself in having delivered curtain raisers for Mafikizolo and Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, but says his highlight was his opening performance at Ringo Madlingozi’s 2017 concert, Making Love with Ringo.

Currently Tumi is in the Love, Crime and Johannesburg camp as “Lewis Matome”: a corrupt and influential figure in the banking sector.

“What I love about the character I am playing is that he is way too different from who I am, and, as a result, is challenging me as an actor to break out of my comfort zone and to constantly be on my toes. Right now I am still exploring the character, and I can say that I’m slowly growing into him.”

In the early years of its democracy, South Africa witnessed a high number of bank heists, allegedly executed by former liberation combatants. Naturally, Lewis Matome is livid, and takes his concerns up with the newly appointed police chief. For Tumi, this role presents a new experience altogether. He tells Art State that never before has he impersonated a politically inclined person.

In his musical capacity, Tumi possesses a golden voice. For him, no note is ever too high to reach, and no emotion is ever too difficult to express. He is without a doubt a sharp instrument in the hands of his music director, Andile Qongqo, and yes, during rehearsals the two respectfully exchange ideas and solutions.

Himself a tutor in his own right, Tumi has taken music lessons and acquired basic training in vocal coaching from ABRSM. He is also a qualified choir conductor.

A perfectionist of note, he is the kind that stays on an item until it is crafted precisely as originally conceptualised. In observation of this, I always think: leadership, responsibility and passion. But most crucially, respect for the city’s theatre-loving people who will fill up the Andre Huguenet Theatre, PACOFS, on 20 March 2018.

Pledging total allegiance to his art, he promises: “What you can expect from me when the show runs is honesty and truthfulness to the character I am playing and to the show as a whole.”

Whatever comes, whatever goes, what will remain is the fact that Tumi Tlhabanelo means business, and is no victim of a small town mentality. It’s all in his choice of a hero, Fana Mokoena—a man who inspires him to dream far beyond the limits of this pale-blue dome we call a sky.

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