It's shortly after 9am and Tumi Morake has just wrapped-up her first job of the day. She is one of the anchors on Breakfast with Martin Bester and Tumi Morake, weekdays 6am to 9am on Jacaranda FM. She is also an award-winning comedian, actress, producer, TV host, businesswoman and Saturday Live columnist.
This frequent user of #BerekaMosadi (work, woman) on social media became a household name through being Mzansi’s leading lady of funny, so I ask if she finds gags at her many gigs.
“Yes,” she exclaims. “Comedy’s the only reason I am where I am today. When I bought my first luxury car, (comedian) David Kau looked at me, at the car and said: ‘You realise all of this is from jokes? It’s jokes! And that’s a serious thing.”
On Saturday night, Morake presented Tumi and Friends at Emperors Palace in Joburg. On the bill with her were Alan Committie, Angel Campey, Lihle Msimang, Mpho Popps, Ndumiso Lindi, Sifiso Nene, Glen Biderman-Pam and Tracey-Lee Oliver.
“These are my friends in real life, who I know I can have a drink with after a show and I am not embarrassed to bring them to my house,” she assures. “But the line-up also depends on my friends’ availability. I would have had my friend Celeste Ntuli in the line-up but she’s got her own shows. My friends are the cream of the crop in comedy.”
At the very top of that crop is Morake, who last year scooped the highly coveted Comic of the Year Waldo at the Comics’ Choice awards. I tell her that I noticed when she won this award, she seemed surprised.
Morake says my observation was spot on. “It made me feel… I hadn’t dropped the ball… That award is voted for by your peers so every woman who is in a boys’ club will agree: when men acknowledge you like that without having to be pushed, that’s unreal,” she enthuses.
Tumi Morake. Picture: Kevin Mark Pass
“When I first decided I wanted to do radio, I didn’t know if radio would want to do me,” she giggles. “When the opportunity knocked for Jacaranda, I was like: ‘A real radio station!’ When they said breakfast, I was like: ‘Are you freaking kidding me?’ That level of pressure?
Plus I’m a huge fan of Rian (Van Heerden, previous host of Jacaranda FM’s The Complimentary Breakfast). Today you can also catch Morake on SABC 3’s WTFTumi every Wednesday and Thursday at 9.30pm. “When you do a late-night show, people think that all the shaming and shading they see on social media throughout the day will continue on that late night show,” Morake shares.
“That’s not who I am. I never laugh at people. If we are laughing, we are in it together. I think we don’t celebrate celebrities enough in this country. And when you know kids are watching, there are places you can’t go. So with this show, we go there.”
Speaking of kids, Morake’s three children, with husband and actor Mpho Osei-Tutu, are the driving force behind her ambition. “I thrive on love,” she says. “I make sure I surround myself with that and that’s how I am able to push forward.
“I have a husband who supports my career and by ‘supports my career’, I mean in the moments when he has to be mom and dad, he quickly steps in. I also wouldn’t be able to do this without the nanny I have.
“I know my kids are taken care of. I have a mother and father-in-law who allow me to talk their ear off and they give me advice.”
“My kids drive me to work as hard as I do.
“My daughter is only three years old but she reminds me of the kind of woman I want to be and should. She’s very outspoken,” Morake laughs. “I always feel like I want that tenacity to grow for her.”
And her Women’s Month message: “I want my boys to be attracted to hard-working women, not women who will depend on them. I want my daughter to want to reach and surpass the bar because I set the bar for her.”