Madiba the Musical
Tim ‘Timomatic’ Omaji, formerly of Wanneroo, celebrates the life of a freedom fighter in his role as Nelson Mandela in Madiba the Musical.
TIM ‘Timomatic’ Omaji has childhood memories of his parents giving money to the cause of Nelson Mandela and freedom fighters in South Africa.
Born in Nigeria, Omaji moved with his family to Australia in 1988 when he was 10 months old and his academic father was awarded a scholarship to University of Canberra.
“I was taught from a very young age that black people were oppressed everywhere and I felt a bond to that,” Omaji said.
“But my view of Nelson Mandela was always the grey-haired President and I’d never delved into who he was before that until the past year or so working on Madiba the Musical.”
Omaji, who spent eight of his formative years in Wanneroo and Carine, said the production was a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life, his story and his vision to bring people of different races together, even after spending 27 years in prison.
When the musical opened in Melbourne in October, it was the first English language version following performances in France, Northern Africa and the West Indies.
It was also the first musical Omaji had been in since getting a lower back stress fracture in 2010’s Fame the Musical.
“I got thrown into the music theatre world the year after So You Think You Can Dance,” he said.
“Fame was a very acrobatic role for me, which was fine but doing that eight times a week for six months, a bit of wear and tear starts to go on in your body.
“My dream was always to be a commercial solo artist (he idolises Michael Jackson) and my injury forced me to focus on that more.
“I begrudgingly went on Australia’s Got Talent because I didn’t want to go on any other reality television shows.
“When you get voted off one, you’re kind of done. But I had people telling me it was a great platform if I wanted to be known as a full round entertainer.
“So I took another risk and I’m glad to say that it paid off and I got a record deal.
“Coming full circle, here I am loving music theatre and getting roles that aren’t really based on my dancing at all but based on music and acting.”
Omaji will return to Perth when Madiba the Musical has a season at Crown Theatre in January, playing activist Sam Onatou, with South African performer Perci Moeketsi in the title role.
“We take the audience through how people were feeling at the time and how, through Nelson’s work and dedication, South Africa became a nonapartheid country,” he said. “I play an activist who is outraged by what’s happening and begins to protest and fight. Sam’s fortune runs out and he gets thrown into prison.
“...Mandela helps him to reform his mind on how to fight and it’s not with guns or violent protest but through peace and love.”
Tim Omaji (front, centre) in Madiba the Musical.