Ghetto's comedy king

Cracking our funny bone with tama brown

There’s never a dull moment when he’s around. Born Batunge Ngube in Maitengwe 32 years ago, the comedian later to be known as Tama Brown has been cracking ribs since his days at Monarch Primary School.

A popular figure in Francistown, particularly in the city’s Monarch location where he resides, Ngube generously gives an overdose of stand up comedy on the streets, at football grounds and drinking spots.

This has endeared him to the ordinary man on the street. Also known for his Tama Brown and Tama Jasane Ikalanga flicks, the award winning comic is a household name in the second city and much of the North East.

His crude comedy has won him slots on the country’s most popular dramas like Ntwakgolo and One Love One Life.

In this interview Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo uncovers the Maitengwe comic, to find out what really makes him tick.

Q. You are a very popular figure in Kasi but very few people know who this funny man is and what he’s really about. Kindly share with our readers, who exactly is Tama Brown?

A. This hunk is from a village called Maitengwe.

I however have Francistown running through my veins because I did my schooling here from Primary level to my BGCSE.

I started schooling at Monarch Primary and through Selolwe Junior School and Francistown Senior School (FSS).

Q. You are a popular comedian in the city. When did you develop interest in comedy and who inspired you?

A. I made the discovery while I was still at primary school.

Extra curricular activities then were drama, scouts, football and athletics.

At the time drama was not given the respect it deserves – performers at the most were viewed as wayward clowns, so I settled for traditional dance.

My love for acting was rekindled at junior school and within two years I won an award for overall Best Actor.

For me it was a statement to my doubters and perhaps to myself because I’m my worst critic.

I later pursued softball in Form Three, where I also came tops and won overall Best Player.

I won the same award the following year at FSS.

It was an amazing run and an excellent performance in softball, a rare feat in FSS for a Form Four student to win Best Softball Player award ahead of the more established Form Five students.

I wasn’t done yet – the following year in my final year in the school I scooped the Best Drama Award and my dominance in the two fields was all too clear!

Q. Wow, that is an impressive school resume. You later became popular for the Tama Brown and Tama Jasana DVDs. What inspired that?

A. After completing my BGCSE, I meat Chase Mabutho of Bon Fella Records.

He told me about a certain gentleman by the name of Pelontle Mpatane who was also a fan of drama.

We met and brainstormed on how we could turn our passion for acting into a movie.

We all agreed that we should shoot a comedy in Ikalanga with English subtitles.

That was when the characters Tama Brown and Tama Jasana were born. Both of us had funny stories we’ve heard from our grandfathers and we turned all the stories into comedy.

It was a successful project and we were able to shoot five episodes.

Q. You have also featured in some local dramas airing on the national broadcaster. Can you shed some light on that?

A. Yes, I was never going to be satisfied with the Tama Brown DVDs.

I needed to explore the industry and mingle with the best in the game.

In 2010 I auditioned for the ‘Bopaganang Bash Programme’ under NACA where we shot a drama ‘One Love, One Life’ which aired on Btv.

I played a supporting role as Jimmy and the drama further enhanced my reputation in the industry.

I played a supporting role in episode 28 of ‘Ntwakgolo’, which also aired on Btv.

Some of the productions I was part of include a YOHO drama ‘Ha re ka Kopana’ where I played a pastor.

I also tried my luck on Signed International and although I got three yeses from the judges, I lost my father in the same week and could not honour the invitation to be part of the cast.

Q. Besides comedy, how do you put food on the table?

A. I’m a banker and have recently moved into being a corporate MC.

It is something I’ve been thinking about for some time.

I felt I needed to do something else to reach out to my fans and being a Master of Ceremonies at corporate events was one way to interact with some of my supporters away from the comedy stage.

MC Tama Brown was born and it has been an amazing journey since my first job.

I have controlled proceedings for Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports Development and Culture, Ministry of Finance, Domboshaba, The Voice 1000th Edition celebrations, Tatsa Lebala, Toropo Ya Muka and many others.

Q. Does this mean there’ll be no more Tama Brown DVDs?

A. No way. I’m always finding new ways on how to improve my craft.

Acting is my passion and there are a couple of production companies that have shown interest in working with me.

I’m confident that soon a new project will hit the shelves.

Currently I’m undergoing transformation thanks to my partner who has so much faith in me.

I’m focused on building my brand and getting more corporate gigs.

Q. This past Saturday you won the ‘Best Comedy Act’ at the Northern Arts Awards. What does this award mean to you?

A. The award represents growth.

I was competing in these awards for the first time and once again it was my partner who encouraged me to register.

She has been very supportive and has played a big role in how I do things in my life.

Q. Do I hear wedding bells?

A. Well, to be honest we are already living like husband and wife, it is about time I make this legal. (chuckles).

Q. Where do you see Tama Brown in the next five years?

A. I’ll be doing voice overs for big companies like Mascom, Orange and BTC.

My face will be on billboards.

I want my face on the Born In The Ghetto billboard and other reputable companies.

Q. It’s the festive season. What do you have planned for December?

A. I’ll definitely be home in Maitengwe.

I have a couple of shows lined up in the village and I can’t wait to be with my people who have supported me from day one.

It is probably one of the reasons I prefer to spend all of my Christmas at home because almost everyone does the same.

Maitengwe children come back home every festive season and it is something I’m always looking forward to.

It’d be nice to catch up with brothers, cousins and friends.

Q. Thank God It’s Friday. What are you doing at the weekend?

A. I’ve been busy for the past three weeks. I want to spend this week relaxing with my partner.

I’ll also find time to celebrate my NAA award with her, because I’d never have won it without her support.

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