Giving a helping hand
To his fans on South African television soapie Muvhango, he is strict, no-nonsense and sometimes kind Chief Azwindini.
That softer side and kindness that he sometimes shows to others in the soapie is what Gabriel Temudzani actually is in real life.
The 36- year- old actor who has been with Muvhango for 16 years is not only a television star but a humanitarian who derives pleasure from seeing other people happy.
He has been doing charity work in South Africa and recently extended his goodwill to Botswana through taking part in raising funds for a less fortunate Old Naledi family.
The Voice Journalist ONNEILE SETLALEKGOSI caught up with the actor at Travel Lodge in Gaborone last week to chat more about his journey in charity work.
Q. Hello Gabriel, great to have you in Botswana. How long have you been here and why?
A. I’ve been here for two weeks to attend the media launch of ‘Together we can’ and the subsequent charitable gala dinner.
Q. Which part of South Africa do you come from?
A. I come from Limpopo province, formally known as Venda.
Q. And what inspired you to contribute to charity?
A. I am one of those people who grew up in a situation that compelled others to step in to salvage the situation hence I am also now helping others.
Q. How did the idea of helping people from Old Naledi come about?
A. A friend, Pastor Thuso, paid me a visit in South Africa and when I sat down with him we started talking about mankind and most of the social ills that are happening in our society.
As a result we came up with an idea to find ways to assist families in need.
And while we were talking we realised that a lot of young people don’t do well at school or are unable to go to school because of family challenges such as lack of shelter.
Some even drop out of school and end up doing bad things like stealing, drugs and alcoholism.
So we then thought we should step-in a way that it will rescue their situation.
Q. So that’s how the idea of ‘Together we can’ came about?
A. Yes, still on the conversation, Pastor Thuso mentioned a family of 10 that he knows.
He told me that most of the family members are young children and that he would be happy to see them with a roof over their heads.
That’s how the idea of Together we can came about and we are currently raising funds to build a house for the family
Q. Interesting, how long have you been doing the project?
A. This is the third month now ever since we met. The impact has been phenomenal and people have responded positively.
I have done a number of things for charitable causes in South Africa and the kind of inspiration and joy that I derive from seeing the happiness of the beneficiaries cannot be replaced by anything.
Q. Let’s talk about your acting career, when was your breakthrough?
A. I began my career around the year 2000, before that I used to do stage dramas.
My breakthrough came when I was doing grade 12 when I got a role in Muvhango, and since I have never looked back.
Q. Have you ever done any television programmes beside Muvhango soapie?
A. I have been with Muvhango for 16 years but I have been in other programmes such as Night drive, Five seasons, Diamonds and Destiny.
The journey has been phenomenal.
Q. As Chief Azwindini in Muvhango you are polygamous and a serious family man, is that the case in real life?
A. I am married and have kids and yes I am a family driven person.
I love my family and I love mankind. Above all, I am one of those who strongly believe that life is a collective and therefore as human beings we should be kind and embrace each other.
By doing that we will be doing what is needed for mankind and the history of human kind will remember us dearly for doing that.
I also believe in family, not only nuclear family but a family of mankind where we co-exist as people and we look after each other especially here in Africa.
Q. What other plans do you have for Batswana, in terms of acting and performing arts?
A. I have agreed with Pastor Thuso that I will bring some of my co-stars who I know have passion for mankind.
I told him that it will not be fair to just come here and not interact with the locals, it will be unfair to us and we will not be doing justice.
So I met a group of young people who are passionate about arts but don’t have financial means to pursue their dreams.
Another challenge they raised is that there are not many platforms to showcase their plays.
I advised them to engage the government collectively; the government will listen and create those facilities.
I volunteered that I will come often to donate some of the skills I have and bring different people so that we don’t cook the same meal over and over again.
Q. Great, so how was the encounter with those community youngsters?
A. It was good and they were quite excited. The questions they asked gave me an impression that they know what they are talking about.
Q. What do you like most about Botswana?
A. It’s a beautiful country and not very far from Venda but it looks like it’s hotter than Venda.
Batswana are very friendly, we visited parliament and the speaker received us with warm hands.
I also visited some government departments for motivational talk where we were also given a warm welcome.
Q. Its feel good Friday, what plans do you have for the weekend?
A. I will be home in Venda, having a good time with my family.