Wed Oct 18 16:36:32 SAST 2017

Hail, chief Azwindini - From village boy to screen king

2017-05-17 10:39:57.0 | Mduduzi Nonyane |

One of Muvhango's veteran actors Gabriel Temudzani says growing up without a television set in the house, he never thought he would be destined for the small screen.

Picture credit: Vathiswa Ruselo

But now he has kept us glued to the 20-year-old soapie for 17 years.

Born and raised in the modest village of Tshivhilidulu in the Nzhelele area in Venda, Temudzani reveals a life of scripts and cameras was not part of the plan.

Famous for his role as the polygamous chief Azwindini Mukwevho on the SABC2 soapie, the screen king says he was surprised when his teachers in high school told him he would make a good actor.

He auditioned for the role in 2000 at the Khoroni Hotel (former Venda Sun) in Thohoyandou, and described the experience as nerve-wracking and gruelling. "You can imagine auditioning for a person who studied his Grade 12 in a rural area and seeing all these mega stars for the first time."

But he didn't let nerves get the better of him, and as a result clinched the role. "It was not easy. It was a long journey that has come with fears and challenges."

Among those challenges, he says, was being "star struck".

"I was so scared man, I saw people like Makalo Mofokeng, who used to play Tshepo Mokoena, and Marah Louw [at the auditioning]," he says.

He explains that being from Venda, his culture and traditions come in handy in portraying the village chief.

"Growing up in the villages gave me an idea of what traditional leadership was about, and relating to people on the ground gave me that deep sense of how things should be done," he says.

But he was not shy to say that TV was a different ball game altogether because of all the technicalities.

He says, unfortunately, some elements of the culture are twisted to accommodate the viewers. "For example, in my culture, when a woman is talking to a man they have to go down on their knees, but when it comes to TV that picture does not look okay."

Although he confesses his happiness at Mzansi's third- most watched soapie, he would like to perform a role that would allow him to be like US actor Denzel Washington.

"I am still enjoying my role here, but generally speaking, roles that guy [Denzel] gets would kill it for me."

Besides being a dominant chief on screen, Temudzani produces cash crops on his farm in Venda.

"It helps to take your mind away from your day-to-day routine because being in studio takes its toll on you mentally and physically," he says.

He also adds the best thing about his role on the screen is inspiring people from his home village. "A young boy from Venda [now] knows that you can make something from totally nothing."

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