Skeem Saam’s Tbose Not About Blow­ing Own Cor­net on Road to Great­ness


Mmileng - - Contents -

Po­lite and out­spo­ken. As op­po­site as these two qual­i­ties may seem, they were ob­vi­ous per­son­al­ity traits gleaned out of Mmileng in­spi­ra­tional youth per­son­al­ity, ac­tor Cor­net Mam­abolo. Mr Mam­abolo is known to the le­gion of fans of the pop­u­lar SABC 1 TV drama, Skeem Saam, as Tbose. Thabiso, as he is af­fec­tion­ately known to his friends and fam­ily, is much more than the vac­u­ous celebrity stereo­type that is as­so­ci­ated with the vul­gar­ian brat­pack. He is a busi­ness­man, artist and much more. Mr Mam­abolo re­cently do­nated a func­tional com­mu­nity li­brary in Mari­pathekong, Ga-Molepo - hosted on Boshega Pri­mary School premises - through his foun­da­tion, the Cor­net M Foun­da­tion.

Boshega is the last school he at­tended in Lim­popo Prov­ince. He moved to Ivory Park, Midrand in 2004 as a fresh-faced 13-year-old to be close to his par­ents, who had been mi­grant work­ers in Gaut­eng for some time, and to com­plete his pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion at Ivory Park Pri­mary School. He went on to com­plete his Grade 12 at Eqin­isweni Sec­ondary School, also in Ivory Park, one of the top non-fee pay­ing schools in the coun­try.

It was through see­ing his for­mer class­mates from Ga-Molepo drop out of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that ig­nited his pas­sion for ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment.

“The li­brary is not only for use of Boshega. It is a com­mu­nity li­brary. When I was at the school re­cently, for ex­am­ple, we had learn­ers from Maro­bathota High School in Boyne at the premises mak­ing use of the li­brary be­cause they did not have enough study guides at their school, where as much as five learn­ers share one study guide,” he says.

His foun­da­tion is also in­volved in other projects such as Sci­ence Cen­tres, Na­tional Sci­ence Week and the Ru­ral Ed­u­ca­tion Fes­ti­val in Lim­popo Prov­ince, in part­ner­ship with Ru­ral Ed­u­ca­tion Fes­ti­val (REDFEST) - an­other Non-Gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) run by Griezel Raphahlelo - and sup­ported by the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy.

Though he is still rooted in Lim­popo, his foun­da­tion, which is mark­ing its fourth an­niver­sary this year, has pre­vi­ously done work in his adopted com­mu­nity of Ivory Park and Alexan­dra near Sand­ton, and a prison vis­its in Boks­burg.

It was dur­ing the for­ma­tive high school years that his cre­ative side that came to pro­pel him into the lime­light came to the fore, per­form­ing com­mu­nity the­atre in Ivory Park a year af­ter land­ing in Gaut­eng. Three years later he moved on to main­stream the­atre, and later, ‘af­ter school’, regis­tered for a four-year Bach­e­lor of Arts in Dra­matic Art (BADA) at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand to hone his dic­tion, the­atre and per­for­mance skills as a bud­ding ac­tor.

The ac­tor, how­ever, dropped out of the pa­per chase twice due to fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. He first dropped out at the end of the sec­ond year, and later at the end of the third year be­cause his par­ents couldn’t keep up with his stu­dent loan re­pay­ments and still reg­is­ter him for sub­se­quent year.

It is this per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, and the ear­lier one from the no-fee school, that shaped his views to strongly

iden­tify with the strug­gle of stu­dents for ac­cess to free ed­u­ca­tion through the Fees Must Fall Move­ment.

“The is­sue of fees is cen­tral to any black child, any young per­son who as­pires to go to an in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing but be­cause of un­for­tu­nate fam­ily back­ground is un­able to do so.”

Dur­ing his fi­nan­cial ex­clu­sions, the ac­tor was for­tu­nate to have had op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop him­self and ac­quire knowl­edge in the in­dus­try do­ing be­hind the scenes work such as be­ing a stage man­ager, light­ing de­signer and cam­era­man.

His big break came dur­ing his first var­sity hia­tus when he joined Skeem Skaam, when it de­buted on SABC TV in 2011 as a weekly youth ed­u­ca­tion drama. And he has been ever­green in the char­ac­ter of Thabo “Tbose” Ma­putla for six sea­sons now, as the pro­duc­tion mor­phed into a daily drama to be­come the highly rated show it is to­day. The youth se­ries won the 2016 South African Film and Tele­vi­sion Awards (SAFTAs) Most Pop­u­lar TV Soap Award as voted for by the pub­lic.

The thes­pian who turns 28-years-old this Au­gust, him­self has blos­somed out and ma­tured into a re­spected all-round in­di­vid­ual, em­brac­ing the var­i­ous facets of his life. He has been mar­ried for three years now and he is a proud fa­ther to two beau­ti­ful daugh­ters, the first born the year to the month he founded his phil­an­thropic NGO.

“Mar­riage is one of the things that has shaped me to be fo­cused. It is be­cause of the life­style of hav­ing a sup­port­ive part­ner, a lov­ing one at that, who pro­tects your in­ter­ests, and who is open and bru­tally hon­est,” he says, ex­tolling the virtues of mar­riage.

He also iden­ti­fies pos­i­tively with other causes in the in­dus­try, such as ‘open up the in­dus­try’, which ad­vo­cates for the cre­ation of more job op­por­tu­ni­ties for up-and-com­ing artists, the ‘Me Too’ – a cam­paign against sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse of women in the in­dus­try and pa­tri­ar­chal prac­tice of of­fer­ing women parts in pro­duc­tions in re­turn for sex­ual favours. And he also be­lieves in equal or merit pay between males and fe­males as op­posed to the per­va­sive gen­der pay gap, that ex­ist in many in­dus­tries and not just in en­ter­tain­ment.

How­ever, he was re­luc­tant to draw links to these causes to his own ex­pe­ri­ences; the fact that he was given op­por­tu­nity in Skeem Saam, a pro­duc­tion cre­ated by a fe­male, Winnie Serite - an old girl of Motse Maria Sec­ondary School (in Ga-Mashashane) - who were not af­ter estab­lished names, or that he is a fa­ther to two daugh­ters.

But the ac­tor is not all about in­su­lar in­ter­ests. He suc­cess­fully stood up for the dig­nity of wait­ers at Pic­cola Rossa, a pizze­ria at Green­val­ley Shop­ping Cen­tre, Green­stone Hill in Gaut­eng’s East Rand who were flip­pantly given Ital­ian names against their will un­der the pre­text of a restau­rant theme. The ac­tor strongly felt it was racism. The pizze­ria has since stopped the prac­tice, and wait­ers are now hap­pily us­ing their real African names.

Over the years he has been in­volved in var­i­ous busi­ness ven­tures as dis­parate as a night­club, and now a fi­nan­cial ser­vices provider spe­cial­is­ing in fu­neral in­sur­ance - with a flag­ship branch in Cosmo City, and an­other one in Tza­neen.

He is also in­volved with the agri­cul­tural sec­tor through bee­keep­ing farms in Ga-Nch­a­be­leng in Sekhukhune and Kameeldrift in Pre­to­ria, and a pig­gery in Mohlaletse in Sekhukhune.

Hav­ing trav­elled the prov­ince ex­ten­sively, Mam­abolo is happy with the qual­ity of road D4040, the main road that passes through his vil­lage to­wards Mo­ria, Molepo Dam and Ga-Ma­mat­sha.

“The sur­face is still in a good con­di­tion. The sig­nage is also good, you can see that Roads Agency Lim­popo is build­ing qual­ity roads,” he says.

“Even our main road is open, al­beit with huge speed humps. But I can­not com­plain be­cause ob­vi­ously that is to mit­i­gate against cars driv­ing at high speed bump­ing into an­i­mals and hit­ting school chil­dren. If only they can ex­tend the road deep into the vil­lage.”

Not­with­stand­ing early hur­dles in his aca­demic pur­suits, Mr Mam­abolo has now en­rolled to study to­wards a Higher Cer­tifi­cate in Short-Term In­sur­ance with the Mil­park Busi­ness School in line with his new­found busi­ness am­bi­tions. He hopes to grow “wealth­ier and wiser” with his var­i­ous busi­ness ven­tures and move to con­tent pro­duc­ing in his tele­vi­sion gig.

As for the fu­ture am­bi­tious of the Cor­net M Foun­da­tion, it plans to open 35 li­braries, and sev­eral sci­ence cen­tres, through­out the coun­try by the time its epony­mous founder turns 35-years-old.

“We (have) found a strat­egy that the gov­ern­ment is not util­is­ing. We will build li­braries, and they will be ac­tive and run­ning,” he says.


Ac­tor Cor­net Mam­abolo is im­pressed with traf­fic calm­ing mea­sures in­stalled on the tarred road D4040 that passes through his vil­lage of Mari­pathekong in Ga-Molepo.

Mam­abolo sat down with Mmileng for a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view. He re­flected on his ca­reer, its di­rec­tion, his pas­sions and the state of Lim­popo roads, which have re­duced his trav­el­ling time when he is in the prov­ince.

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