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In this week’s episode of the Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, Tumi Morake takes Skhumba to the province she was born in, the Free State, where her father’s family lives in Bloemfontein and her mother’s in Thaba ‘Nchu.
“Skhumba’s like a fungus; he just grows on you,” Tumi tells us. “I agreed to this trip because I’ve decided that I need to laugh even more this year, and when you hang out with Skhumba you’re guaranteed to walk away with a six-pack.”
Here are five things we learnt about Motsweding FM’s new breakfast show host – a bestselling author, SAFTA-winning writer, SAFTA-nominated presenter, and multi-award-winning comedian, who was named 2016 Comics’ Choice Comedian Of The Year.
1. When Tumi was younger, she wished she had darker skin
When Skhumba visits Tumi’s family home, her Oupa tells him that when Tumi was younger, she once smeared black polish all over her body and her face. Tumi doesn’t deny it. “The funny thing is, a few years later, I got sunburnt because I was trying to be browner,” she admits to Skhumba. “I was such a yellowbone.”
2. During apartheid, Tumi’s parents were arrested for treason
Tumi and Skhumba discuss the bad old days of apartheid, when Bloemfontein was in South Africa but Thaba ‘Nchu was part of Bophuthatswana – and both Tumi’s parents were arrested for treason.
“My dad tried to overthrow the Bophuthatswana government,” Tumi tells Skhumba. “Because remember there was that Apartheid puppet, Mangope. My dad was an underground ANC member, working in the police force, so somebody sold him out. The next time I saw him, he was in jail. I was speaking to him through the glass, on a phone. It was heart-breaking, man. That’s when I learned about Apartheid properly.” Her mother brought her to Bloemfontein to stay with her grandparents ‘for stability’ – the right choice since she was promptly arrested on her return.
3. Tumi originally wanted to be an actress, not a comedian
“When I came to Joburg and went to Wits to study, I knew I wanted to be an actor,” she tells Skhumba. “But because I’m chubby – I don’t have a conventional look – it was hard to get acting work. The hot chicks were getting the work. And yes, there were some talented chicks getting the work but if I look at my age group it was mostly about how you look than whether you have the talent or not.”
She changed her focus to writing, which she still loves, but then comedy hit. “I was like: this is what I want to do,” she tells Skhumba. “This is giving me what I want: I got to write, I got to act, I got to have my own audience right there.”
Part of what she loves about comedy is its ability to speak uncomfortable truths. “When you take comedy and you use it to talk about some of these things, you’re calling a spade a spade. I’ve made a joke of it, so you’re laughing, but you’re going, ‘Ey but it’s true.’”
4. Tumi has three kids (despite what Skhumba says)
“She’s got nine or fifteen children,” Skhumba tells us. “Tumi was pregnant while she was pregnant. I think she was two months and nine months pregnant at the same time.”
This is the other reason Tumi agreed to take part in Trippin With Skhumba. “It’s a chance for Skhumba to get to know me, beyond all the thousands of children he thinks I have.”
We ask her how many children she really has? “I have three children, but for some reason, when I had just met Skhumba, I was pregnant with my second child, and the next time I saw him I was pregnant with my third. It feels like every time we bump into each other I’m pregnant.”
5. Tumi’s mother made her who she is
Tumi takes Skhumba to visit her mother’s grave in the Free State. “My home visits are incomplete without this visit,” says Tumi, who dedicated her 2018 book, And Then Mama Said…, to her mother.
“My mother made me who I am, man,” Tumi tells Skhumba. “I feel like I’m an extension of her. If my mom had been born now, I feel like I’m pretty much a picture of what she could’ve been and would’ve been. My mother was outspoken; my mother was a pioneer in many respects; my mother was fearless.”
Next week’s finale: the stand-up special
The first season of Trippin With Skhumba ends next Thursday, 11 April 2018, with a stand-up special featuring Skhumba and his guests, as well as one new comedian from each hometown visited.
Previous episodes of Trippin With Skhumba have visited 2016 Comics’ Choice Native Tongue winner Mashabela Galane in Moletjie, Limpopo; 2018 Native Tongue winner Siya Seya in Motherwell township in Port Elizabeth; 2016 Intermediate winner Schalk Bezuidenhout in Kempton Park, Gauteng; Celeste Ntuli, the most nominated comedian last year with Skhumba, in eMabuyeni, just outside eSikhawini township in KwaZulu-Natal; and 2017 Native Tongue winner Salesman in Mabopane township outside Pretoria.
Trippin With Skhumba is directed by Vincent Moloi, who won the 2019 Best Director: TV Drama SAFTA for Tjovitjo and the 2018 Best Director: Documentary SAFTA for Skulls Of My People.
The series is produced for Showmax by Diprente (the production company behind this year’s box office hit Matwetwe; Catching Feelings; and the International Emmy-nominated Late Nite News With Loyiso Gola). Diprente is co-owned by 2018 Comics’ Choice Comic’s Pen winner Kagiso Lediga, and is also producing Netflix’s first African Original series Queen Sono.
Watch the first six episodes of Trippin With Skhumba first and only on Showmax.
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