Skeem Saam’s Tbose Not About Blowing Own Cornet on Road to Greatness
NOT ABOUT BLOWING OWN CORNET ON ROAD TO GREATNESS
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.
“THE SURFACE IS… IN A GOOD CONDITION. THE SIGNAGE IS ALSO GOOD… ROADS AGENCY LIMPOPO IS BUILDING QUALITY ROADS”
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.