Bursting onto the public sphere as an actor, Thomas Gumede, or “Tommy 2 guns, 2 straps, 2 gats, 2 gals on both ma laps...” as we got to know him on Forever Young, is a master storyteller, filmmaker and is incredibly adept at entertainment.
Gumede has worked in various content capacities for Mzansi Magic in the past ten years, placing him in a unique position to see and be part of the changing nature of South Africa’s television landscape.
“It has been literally life changing being part of Mzansi Magic’s content providers,” Gumede says, “We have changed people’s lives and perspectives on how we control our own narrative and how we tell our own stories.”
Indeed, Gumede and the pioneering team from Parental Advisory Productions (PAP) have brought in youthful flair to the Mzansi Magic family with some stellar productions.
These include the aforementioned Forever Young, which documented the life of three young creatives which comprised Gumede, Siyabonga “Scoop Makhathini” Ngwekazi and Lungile “Lungsta” Radu who were young, gifted and black, but also lived according to the “young, wild and free” dictum. This made for fun television, with the added dramatics of youth.
Gumede returns to the front of the camera on Lowdown with Thomas, a show that offers a look at all the unbelievable and amazing things people have been getting up to during the lockdown. Two gats brings his affable nature, signature humour and personality that keeps the audience enthralled throughout the show’s allotted 24 minutes.
Throughout the past ten years, Gumede has been a creator, director, presenter and executive producer for numerous local interest channels. The PAP trio have been concerned with matters of black love with shows like Love Back, which focused on assisting hapless romantics reignite the flames of love from those that got away.
Uyang'thanda na? attempted to rescue eager suitors from the clutches of the friend zone – some successfully and others dismally, but mostly hilarious. Perfect Match Mzansi, a show in which eight men and eight women meet up at a pre-selected venue, and have only two minutes to impress a potential partner, using pre-determined questions or conversation starters. Failed contestants get eliminated, while the successful hopefuls proceed to the next round.
There was also a plethora of couple centred reality shows like Mo Love with Tall Ass Mo and Mome, Mandla and Lexi and Ntombi and Ace. Before you categorise Gumede and crew as one trick ponies, they also produced, Ezase Afro: The Empire, which followed powerhouse music stable, Afrotainment, headed by the Durban born star and entrepreneur, Mthokozisi Khathi, popularly known as DJ Tira.
Abomama Bomthandazo, starring Khanyi Mbau, Joyce Skefu and Kenneth Nkosi saw Gumede don his dramatic directorial hat in this show in which ideas of faith and sin are examined and challenged when four women are sucked into the criminal underworld and forced to turn their stokvel into a money laundering scheme.
Gumede does not take the significance and impact of these productions lightly because as much as they have entertained the public they have been of great personal importance too.
“Our lives have also changed for the better as we created a sustainable business relationship with the best broadcaster in Africa,” Gumede concludes.